The Joffrey Ballet's "Spring Desire" is a beautiful, masterful evening, made out of elegance and precisely focused inspiration; it opened April 25 at Chicago's legendary Auditorium Theatre, and will run through the beginning of May.
"Spring Desire" starts out with Edwaard Liang's "Age of Innocence", an intricately conceived and beautifully performed work of profound insight. I wrote about the making of the piece in an article at 4dancers.org called "The Choreography of Understanding", and in the process I had the chance to see one of the rehearsals for it. In a way it's a revelation to see the movement isolated in the bright light of the Joffrey's expansive rehearsal studio, repeated again and again until it shows the multiple perspectives of individual performance, ensemble precision and choreographic architecture, but it's nothing like seeing the lights come up on it at the Auditorium. There's a depth to the staging, a harmony to its richly woven movement-fabric, a brightness in the dancers who perform in it, that immerses you in it's rich, brooding story.
The second work in "Spring Desire" is a widely respected work by Jerome Robbins entitled "In the Night", set to four Chopin Nocturnes. The Nocturnes are performed live, and beautifully, by Paul James Lewis, as six dancers weave a hopelessly enchanting spell with Robbins' movement design. The program notes say that the "exquisitely romantic pas de deux explore love in all its phases", and although "exquisitly romantic" is exactly what they are, the graceful eloquence of the Jofferey dancers adds a whole new kind of love to the list.
The last work in the show is the world premiere of "Incantations" by Val Caniparoli that I won't even try to describe; you just have to go see it. It starts out with a nonstop energy that could be the finale of almost anything else, then one of the most effective lighting changes you'll ever see brings everything way down, and it finishes, it finishes, maybe I shouldn't say how it finishes. You should just go see it.
Watching the Joffrey work is beyond impressive; the performance is at a level that's stunning in its gracefulness, its energy and its commitment. In three very different works, "Spring Desire" showcases what can happen when a group of richly talented people work really hard together to make something brilliant. This is a band where everybody knows how to play; this is a show to go see.
Spring Desire is at the Auditorium Theater through May 6, tickets are at the Joffrey (10 E. Randolph Street) and Roosevelt Box Offices or from Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787.