Joffrey Ballet plans new twists on classics and more for 2017-18

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The Joffrey Ballet will present the North American premiere of Alexander Ekman’s Swedish-flavored take on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as part of its 2017-2018 season. (Photo: Hans Nilsson, Royal Swedish Opera)

The Joffrey Ballet still has one more week of performances at the Auditorium Theatre, where its “Game Changers” program spotlights the work of three innovative 21st century choreographers. And it has yet to head to New York’s Lincoln Center (March 29-April 2) for its first performances there in two decades.

But the dancing never stops. And now it is spinning out news of its plans for the 2017-2018 season, with all performances at the Joffrey’s home, the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, and live music performed by the Chicago Philharmonic, conducted by music director, Scott Speck.

In addition, as previously announced, the Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera of Chicago will collaborate for the first time this season with a world premiere production of Gluck’s classic opera “Orphée et Eurydice,” directed, choreographed and designed by John Neumeier, the acclaimed director of Germany’s Hamburg Ballet. (Performances will be at Lyric’s Civic Opera House, Sept. 23-Oct. 15.)

Here is a closer look at the season:

• “Giselle” (Oct. 18-29): The Chicago premiere of this 19th century Romantic classic, set to the music of Adolphe Adam, is the work of Lola de Ávila, former associate director of the San Francisco Ballet School. Her production of this tale — in which a young peasant girl discovers her lover is betrothed to another and dies of grief — has been acclaimed for its attention to the expressive beauty of the work’s movement.

• “The Nutcracker” (Dec. 1-30): One year after its world premiere, the Joffrey will reprise Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s richly imagined, visually brilliant version of the holiday classic which is set during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.

• “Modern Masters” (Feb. 7-18, 2018): This mixed repertory program will feature a world premiere by Joffrey ballet master Nicolas Blanc, set to an orchestral and electronic soundscape by Mason Bates (recently composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra); the Chicago premiere of “Kammermusik No. 2,” George Balanchine’s high-speed 1978 work for 12 dancers, set to a neoclassical score by Paul Hindemith; “Body of Your Dreams,” a tongue-in-cheek take on fitness by Myles Thatcher, a dancer and choreographer with the San Francisco Ballet, set to a score by the Dutch avant pop composer Jacob ter Veldhuis, and, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jerome Robbins,  the masterful ballet choreographer and Broadway director, his “Glass Pieces,” a full company work set to the music of Philip Glass, which Robbins created for the New York City Ballet in 1983.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (April 25-May 6, 2018): Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman, whose zany humor and experimentalism were showcased in Joffrey productions of his “Episode 31” and “Tulle,” will stage the North American premiere of this variation on the Shakespeare classic that had its world premiere by the Royal Swedish Ballet in 2015. Ekman has devised a festive Scandinavian Midsummer celebration in which, “as the border between the world of mortals and the kingdom of the supernatural becomes thinner, the celebration turns into a dreamlike fantasy.”

Three-program subscriptions, which do not include “The Nutcracker” or “Orphée et Eurydice,” are now on sale. Call (312) 386-8905 or visit Single tickets for the October, February and April performances, and for “The Nutcracker,” will go on sale Aug. 1. For tickets to “Orphee et Eurydice,” call (312) 827-5600.

Ashley Wheater, artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet. (Photo courtesy of Joffrey Ballet)

Ashley Wheater, artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet. (Photo courtesy of Joffrey Ballet)

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