Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet To Open Season With Stories in Motion

“Joffrey Circle Salon: Stories in Motion with Edward Villella”

CHICAGO (August 11, 2014) – The Joffrey Ballet celebrates its 20th anniversary of calling Chicago home in the 2014-15 season. Artistic Director Ashley Wheater opens the season with “Stories in Motion,” a special one-weekend-only addition to the Joffrey’s usual three-program subscription season. This program, exploring the concept of “story ballet” with works that each tell a story in a freshly conceived way, features the return of two Joffrey repertory favorites, George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son and Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden, along with the Joffrey/Chicago Premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s Asian-themed RAkU. The Joffrey presents “Stories in Motion” in five performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway, September 18 – 21.

“With ‘Stories in Motion,’ The Joffrey Ballet explores the ways by which stories are told with physical movement and music,” said Wheater. “We tend to think of only full-length ballets as our narrative food, so I wanted to focus on telling a complete story in a very short space of time. We present three very distinct narrative works and hope to show that the language of dance is as expressive and nuanced as the spoken or written word. As with all great stories, human nature is the source of these ballets. Emotions are rendered through movement without words…love, longing, passion, jealousy, sorrow, revenge and forgiveness.”

Prodigal Son, not performed by the Joffrey since 2000, was one of the first Balanchine ballets to achieve an international reputation. Originally premiered in 1929 and set to music by Sergei Prokofiev, it is the dramatic story of the son who flees his family, seeking adventure but falling into sin, and his eventual return and redemption, based on a parable according to the Gospel of St. Luke. Wheater makes a rare return to the stage portraying the Father. Learn more about choreographer George Balanchine here.

Lilac Garden, set to Ernest Chausson’s Poeme for violin and orchestra, premiered in 1936 and is an intimate work that showed Tudor’s increasing interest in revealing psychological motivation through choreography – his first “psychological ballet.” A glorious Victorian melodrama, it is a story of a young woman who must say farewell to her lover on the eve of her arranged marriage to a man she does not love. It was last performed by The Joffrey Ballet in 2008. Learn more about choreographer Antony Tudor here.

Finally, Possokhov, San Francisco Ballet’s Resident Choreographer, brings RAkU to Chicago for the first time since its San Francisco Ballet debut in 2011. Set to music by Shinji Eshima, this contemporary ballet with a modernist costume and set design, moving screens and projections, tells the tale of a Japanese emperor and his beloved princess who are torn apart by war and the schemes of a Buddhist monk driven mad by obsessive love. It is a stylized interpretation of the burning of the Kyoto Temple of the Golden Pavilion, brimming with lush lyricism and dark drama. Learn more about choreographer Yuri Possokhov here.

Dates & Tickets

The Joffrey Ballet performs “Stories in Motion” Thursday and Friday, September 18 and 19 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, September 20 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, September 21 at 2 pm.

Single tickets, priced from $32 to $155, are available now at The Joffrey Ballet’s official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2014-15 Season Sponsors and Partners. With special thanks to “Stories in Motion” Presenting Sponsor, Alphawood Foundation Chicago; Prodigal Son Production Sponsors, Patti S. Eylar and Charles R. Gardner; RAkU Production Sponsor, Jane Ellen Murray Foundation; New Work Presenting Sponsor, The Anne and Burt Kaplan Fund of the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation; Co-Sponsors of the 2014-2015 Season Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago and NIB Foundation; United Airlines, Official Airline; AthletiCo, Official Provider of Physical Therapy; JW Marriott, Official Hotel; and Season Partner, Chicago Athletics Clubs. Lilac Garden performances are dedicated to Audre M. Carlin.

For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, please visit

[Photo of Christine Rocas & Miguel Blanco in RAkU by Cheryl Mann]


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