Category In the News

Yoshihisa Arai and Anais Bueno in “Anna Karenina.” Photo: Cheryl Mann.

The full review appears in the February 14, 2019, online edition at

By Hedy Weiss, WTTW

A magnificent classical ballet in the guise of a great work of modern cinema. That might just be the most accurate description of the Joffrey Ballet’s dazzling world premiere production of “Anna Karenina” that opened Wednesday night at the Auditorium Theatre. The production arrives on the heels of such recent Joffrey triumphs as a new, Chicago-inspired “Nutcracker,” and a stunning staging of a Scandinavian-bred “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” And this haunting, visually fascinating interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s massive 1877 novel of life in Imperial Russia serves as just the latest evidence of the unique ability of the Joffrey to turn dance into riveting, multi-dimensional theater.

The leading artists behind this ballet – a co-production with the Australian Ballet, which will perform the work in 2020, as well as the initial commission using support from the Joffrey’s Rudolf Nureyev Fund – clearly have deep roots in the material, and that authenticity is evident at every turn. Choreographer Yuri Possokhov is a former Bolshoi Ballet dancer; Ilya Demutsky, the 35-year-old composer whose score is the first in the history of the Joffrey to be commissioned, makes his home in St. Petersburg, Russia. And dramaturg Valeriy Pecheykin, who has devised a remarkably concise scenario from Tolstoy’s 800-page novel, works at the Moscow Gogol-Center Theater.