Category Stage Notes

Joffrey Artists Yumi Kanazawa, Amanda Assucena, and Gayeon Jung in Birthday Variations by Gerald Arpino. Photo: Cheryl Mann.

Joffrey Makes a Triumphant Return to the Stage

There’s no place like home. After 20 months away, the Joffrey settled into its new performance space at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Home: A Celebration, a program that honored the people that make the Joffrey unmatched, with works by our very own artists, created at the height of the pandemic. Here are some highlights: 

We Are Home

There’s something unique about the stage, something inimitable. Call it the power of the shared experience. Joffrey Artists April Daly, Yoshihisa Arai, and Miranda Silveira explained it in the Joffreys first promotional trailer, an introduction to the Joffreys new digs at Lyric Opera House and a love note to the power of performance. 

Birthday Variations FTW

We traveled back in time, to the era of Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino, by re-staging a piece that hadn’t appeared in the Joffrey mainstage repertoire for more than 20 years. Birthday Variations had its premiere in 1986 on the Lyric Opera Stage, revived in spectacular fashion for audiences of today. Arpino’s touching medley harkens back to the heyday of classical ballet with unique Joffrey flare. Its light touch still casts a whimsical spell. 

A Surprise Appearance by Zoë Keating

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Chanel DaSilva, choreographer of Swing Low, talked at length about her admiration for cellist and composer Zoë Keating, whose work inspired DaSilvas latest work. Keating tuned in to the virtual premiere of Swing Low in the spring of 2021, part of the Joffrey Studio Series, a digital offering of performances featured during the virtual 2020-2021 season. Keating was so taken by the performance that she called the Joffrey and offered to play on opening night for the stage debut of Swing Low. Thus, a new friendship was born. 

Nicolas Blanc Pays Touching Tribute to His Grandfather

Under the Trees Voices took Joffrey Rehearsal Director Nicolas Blanc to places he had never been. For one, he had to navigate COVID-19 restrictions and city mandates to create, among other sections, three sublime pas de deuxs that encapsulated the restorative power of community in the age of social distancing. It weighed heavy as Blanc struggled with the recent passing of his grandfather, for whom the piece is dedicated. Despite the challenges, Blanc unveiled a beautifully crafted ensemble piece that touched every corner of the Lyric’s grand stage and dazzled audiences each night.   

Boléro Closes and Brings the Audience to Their Feet

Joffrey company artist Yoshihisa Arai made his mainstage choreographic debut for the Joffrey with the hauntingly brilliant Boléro, a piece inspired by the magnetic score of the same name by Maurice Ravel. Another ensemble piece, Boléro epitomized the symbiotic power of both music and dance to render something wonderfully challenging and magical — the perfect closer for a night filled with incredible highlights.