Category In the News

Hedy Weiss, WTTW

Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel “Anna Karenina” was turned into a stunningly feverish, quasi-cinematic work for the Joffrey Ballet by choreographer Yuri Possokhov, set to an evocative score by Ilya Demutsky and winningly designed by Tom Pye.

The work, which received its world premiere by the Joffrey in early 2019, has now returned to the stage. Only this time it is being performed on the Lyric Opera House stage (rather than at its former home, the Auditorium Theatre). The performance is a fascinating hybrid of ballet technique, modern drama and evocative projection design (the work of Finn Ross). And bringing it fully to life is both the technical polish of the Joffrey dancers and their exceptional gift for acting that so vividly captures the difference between love and passion as explored in Tolstoy’s masterful story.

It all begins at a train station in St. Petersburg, Russia, circa 1874, as an elderly station guard falls onto the tracks and is killed by an oncoming train. Witnessing this terrible accident are two strangers. The first is the impossibly elegant Anna Karenina, who happens to be married and the mother of a young son (portrayed in a breathtaking opening night turn by Victoria Jaiani, who danced the role in the ballet’s original production and once again brought her impeccable technique and feverish intensity to every moment of Wednesday’s opening night). Second is the dashing Count Alexey Vronsky (in an excellent turn by Alberto Velazquez), who becomes instantly obsessed with Anna.

Read full review here