Review: Joffrey Ballet surpasses itself in 'Bold Moves'

Joffrey Ballet
Chicago Tribune

At its best, dance is the most perfect of stage arts, sculpting entire worlds through the most ineffable means: color, light, music, human movement. "Bold Moves" offers three especially demanding, beautiful and distinct visions. And on Wednesday's opening night, the Joffrey Ballet and the Chicago Philharmonic met all their challenges with brio.

Through Feb. 21 at the Auditorium Theatre, "Bold Moves" features a formidable world premiere by British choreographer Ashley Page. Just as knotted and thorny as its music, Thomas Ades' Violin Concerto ("Concentric Paths"), "Tipping Point" mythologizes the physical, creating a cool, metaphysical universe ruling the actions of the heavens, the earth and human beings alike. Jon Morrell's striking scenic design — five giant squares of weighty, cracked mineral surfaces — brings home the conceit, aided by David Finn's lighting.

At the last minute, Page added an introductory section, set to Aphex Twin's eerie "Gwely Mernans." A good idea: This piece for 12 relies for its impact on the visibility of its groups, which the introduction picks out using what seem the searchlights of police helicopters. Two crucial men, toe to toe, try to throw each other off balance and, in the process, achieve balance. Three women (the Fates?) are remote, mechanical, unified. A trio of two men and one woman embody instability, and two couples bring in the human factor.

Though Page highlights physical principles — balance and imbalance, tension and release — the details of his choreography go way beyond them. On opening night, I was astounded to see Fabrice Calmels throw Christine Rocas (valiantly filling in for the injured April Daly) behind his back with a swift circle of one arm. They and the other couple, Victoria Jaiani and Dylan Gutierrez, were both superhuman and utterly human. Kudos to them, to the mischief-making Edson Barbosa and Alberto Velasquez, and to trio members Amanda Assucena, Yoshihisa Arai and Lucas Segovia. This is a dance that will definitely reward future viewing. 

Read the rest of the review here