A New Ballet for Children Draws Inspiration From Puerto Rico, Skyscrapers and Beyoncé
Up tempo and ideal for families, the Joffrey Ballet’s “Rita Finds a Home” tells the immigration story through the eyes of a child. Chicago audiences have seven chances to see it for free in July.
By Isabella DeLeo, WBEZ Chicago
When The Joffrey Ballet decided to commission a new story ballet for kids, it turned to a trifecta of female creatives: a choreographer who worked with pop megastar Beyoncé on one of her world tours, a writer who drew on her experience as a Puerto Rican immigrant, and an illustrator who specialized in designing children’s books.
In their hands, the production Rita Finds a Home tells the story of the immigrant experience from the perspective of a child – and is wholly unlike classical ballets that tend to dominate ballet company repertoires.
“I really wanted to do this piece as a little bit of an homage to the spirit of survival,” said the writer, Karla Estela Rivera, who teamed up with illustrator Elisa Chavarri and choreographer Amy Hall Garner for the project. “I thought about my own experience and the joy that I have of living here. We are in times that, for migrant and immigrant families and children, there are a lot of challenges that those communities face. But there’s also a lot of joy.”