Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

DANCIN' FEATS Up-and-comers the focus of Joffrey opener
by Lauren Warnecke
2015-09-09

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


The Joffrey Ballet kicks off its 60th-anniversary season this week with a brand-new program featuring young choreographers.

Also a corps de ballet dancer at the San Francisco Ballet ( SFB ), Myles Thatcher, 25, is making a name for himself as a choreographer with an already impressive resume. In addition to his Joffrey debut Sept. 16 with a world premiere called The Passengers, Thatcher is currently setting work on New York City Ballet and was selected for the 2014-2015 Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative. As one of seven young choreographers in the program, the Harid Conservatory graduate was selected by choreographic mentor Alexei Ratmansky, American Ballet Theatre's Artist-in-Residence and a former director of the Bolshoi Ballet.

According to Thatcher, a career in choreography is all about momentum and, at the moment, he's got plenty of it. "Getting the opportunity to work is the hardest part," he said in a phone interview with Windy City Times, so when the chances to work with Joffrey and New York City Ballet arose, he couldn't possibly say no. Nevertheless, managing dual careers as a company dancer and now nationally recognized choreographer means juggling a challenging schedule, and occasional sacrifices at SFB.

Because the company shares a venue with the San Francisco Opera, the dancers' performance schedule is half the year, and the other half if spent focusing on choreography. "It's kind of crazy," he said. "For now, I'm able to maintain both and they feed into each other," said Thatcher. He plans to continue performing as long as he is able, or until it no longer gives him joy and satisfaction, but while Thatcher said the company is very understanding and supportive, he admitted he has had to make some concessions in casting. "The balance is tricky," he said, "but not unfathomable."

For young choreographers, the challenge of bringing much-needed new audiences to dance, particularly ballet, has been a frequently debated topic. Thatcher feels that audiences can become easily intimidated by dance and struggle to connect with it. "I'm so aware that ballet is a really weird thing," he said. "It is not always understood that dance doesn't have to go through the rational part of the brain, but it's important to pack abstract work with meat and purpose and intention. ... It's important that we question, 'Why are we doing this? Who's going to care?'"

Perhaps dating from George Balanchine's rejection of the traditional story ballet for abstract—technical work—many modern-day interpretations of the classical form continue to rely on technique and physicality. Balanchine's preference for simple costumes ( often dressing the dancers in leotards and tights ) and sparse staging was a dramatic turn for ballet that showcased the dancers' technique and musicality. However, "if [technique is] all we're banking on, that's a problem," said Thatcher, who believes that a return to narrative work could be a key element in drawing more people to ballet. He's not alone in this approach, although Thatcher's contemporaries are revisiting the use of narrative in different ways. Over the past few decades, choreographers have been simultaneously creating new work while reimagining beloved 19th-century ballets.

Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon has been a frequent guest at the Joffrey; his ballet Fool's Paradise makes its Chicago premiere alongside Thatcher's The Passengers.

Last year, the Joffrey acquired his version of Swan Lake, and the company will unveil a brand new Wheeldon Nutcracker in 2016 after retiring the its beloved choreography created by co-founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino. Wheeldon is joined by others re-creating the classics: Stanton Welch created a new and expedited La Bayadere ( also acquired by Joffrey within the last few seasons ).

Even these new and fresh interpretations of the classics, however, concede to the original Petipa choreography in their most well-known moments. Wheeldon's Swan Lake maintained the iconic cygnet variation and Welch kept the Kingdom of the Shades section completely in tact in his Bayadere. Instead of dressing up old ballets in new choreography, Thatcher's mentor Alexei Ratmansky has looked back to the original notations of these great ballets and, as Thatcher describes, "filled in the color of what Marius Petipa was doing." As an emerging choreographer in classical ballet, Thatcher draws inspiration from the classics, which he views as essentially perfect. "Who am I to create a crappier version of that?" he joked, and prefers to take on new stories, contemporary characters and relationships, or abstract ideas.

Thatcher said he sees an opportunity for ballet to expand its reach by investigating wider representation and diversity in its characters and storylines. The great ballets, he explained, presented a limited scope of personas that today are perceived as heteronormative and uni-dimensional. "Men have more substance that being macho; women have more substance than being dainty and frail," he said. "In classical ballet, if two men are on stage together they're usually either in a competition, or fighting. I can never connect to that. There is a lack of sensitivity around allowing men to be soft… Balanchine said, 'Ballet is woman.' As much as I respect him, ballet is human."

The Passengers, as with all of Thatcher's work, attempts to expand on this traditional narrative and create additional depth in balletic characters. Set in a train station to two scores by Steve Reich and inspired by 1950's Film Noir and Thatcher's travels, The Passengers is joined by Wheeldon's Fool's Paradise and a world premiere from Annabelle Lopez Ochoa for Joffrey's 60th-anniversary season opener.

The Joffrey Ballet presents "Millennials" Sept. 16-20 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets start at $32 available for purchase at Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph St., as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University's box office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at 800-982-2787 or online at ticketmaster.com .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Chicago Dancemakers Forum Launches International Initiative, Two Fall Events 2019-10-15 - CHICAGO, IL, 10/15/2019 Images Available Here. - Chicago Dancemakers Forum's new CrossHatch Initiative promotes artistic growth for dancemaking artists and builds connections for, ...


Gay News

Auditorium commissions Michelle Dorrance work for Trinity Irish Dance Company 2019-10-11 - ( CHICAGO, IL — The Auditorium Theatre announces the commission of American Traffic, a new work for Trinity Irish Dance Company ( TIDC ...


Gay News

'Body Political' revue to take place Oct. 12 2019-10-03 - The Body Political—described as "a semi-annual burlesque and variety show that confronts social myths about the body through personal stories of resistance and ...


Gay News

Ooh La La Burlesque & Variety Show to benefit Center on Addison 2019-09-18 - Chicago, IL — We are thrilled to announce our upcoming fundraising event for Center on Addison, the social and residential center for LGBTQ ...


Gay News

Chicago performers 'Dance for Life' in annual showcase 2019-08-21 - Patrons of the arts gathered Aug. 17 in the South Loop for the 28th Dance for Life benefit performance. Dancers from six different ...


Gay News

Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town 2019-08-20 - The Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town, a three-day series of events throughout Chicago, continuing the tradition of the annual Windy ...


Gay News

'Doing Fine' dance event Aug. 22-Sept. 8 2019-08-06 - Culminating a year-long research process, Joanna Furnans will premiere Doing Fine—a new full-length dance performance over three weekends Aug. 22-Sept. 8. All performances ...


Gay News

Dance event 'Rampage' in Chicago on Aug. 11 2019-08-06 - Rival Productions ( Milwaukee ) and CircuitMom Productions ( Chicago ) are collaborating to present "Rampage"—a new performance and dance event dedicated to ...


Gay News

New Dance for Life director named 2019-08-06 - Fewer than three weeks before Dance for Life is slated to take place, the organization announced the appointment of Kesha M Pate as ...


Gay News

'Dance Divas' Aug. 4-5 at Baton's new site 2019-07-24 - Dance for Life Chicago is presenting Dance Divas "Bright Lights, Big Cities" a party and performance Sunday, August 4 at 6 p.m. and ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.