World Premiere streamed in one, free performance only: February 26, 7:00 p.m. The FIRST PERFORMANCE SINCE START OF THE PANDEMIC
Streaming extended to March 2nd
The Joffrey Ballet is thrilled to announce the world premiere of Boléro, named after the acclaimed orchestral piece by composer Maurice Ravel and choreographed by Joffrey Company Artist Yoshihisa Arai February 26, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Boléro, to be performed by 15 members of the Company, will be filmed at the Gerald Arpino Black Box Theatre at Joffrey Tower and Joffrey will only be streaming Bolero through their Facebook page and also on their website. Notably,this marks the first performance since The Joffrey’s winter program, The Times Are Racing, which opened at the Auditorium Theatre exactly one year prior on February 12, 2020.
Boléro is a 16-minute work, originally intended to be performed by Studio Company members of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, at the Joffrey’s Center Stage event in 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Joffrey to change direction, Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, approached Arai with an opportunity to create a new work for the main company. With the music established, Arai began working out the details for a more robust piece with a larger cast.
“Through Boléro, Yoshihisa beautifully emulates a feeling of reconnecting with our humanity in a world where we can’t touch or hold each other right now,” said Wheater.“The process has been cathartic for everyone involved, and while we yearn for the stage, this thoughtfully filmed performance will allow viewers, near and far, to experience the Joffrey in an intimate way that they haven’t before.”
Boléro features eight men and seven women, with Company Artist Anais Bueno as the featured performer. Arai envisions Bueno’s role as a type of muse, evoking an abstract but humanistic quality to the overall feeling of the piece, leading her “disciples” through a serene world of light and shadows. The Joffrey’s Gerald Arpino Black Box Theatre, equipped with professional-grade stage lighting, provides a dramatic backdrop that emulates the proscenium setting of a live, in-person performance.
The primary inspiration for Boléro is the Spanish-flavored, orchestral work of the same name by Maurice Ravel. Recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, the famous one-movement score is known for beginning softly and ending, according to the composer’s instructions, as loudly as possible.
“To me, the most fascinating quality of the music is that the rhythm remains the same throughout the piece and yet, as the instruments change from snare drum to flute, trombone to woodwinds, and so on, an array of emotions are unleashed,” said Arai. “This inspires me most of all.”
Veteran Company Artist Temur Suluashvili designed the costumes for Boléro, focusing on a minimal and classic Japanese dance look with the men in Kabuki pants and women in floating skirts over nude leotards, with large black pearls adorning their necks. The costumes include face masks, adding to the theatrical look.
“The abilities of The Joffrey dancers go well beyond dance,” said Wheater. “Temur is an incredible photographer and costumer, and during this unprecedented time, so many of our dancers have been able to hone their creative abilities in other disciplines, launch projects and even companies, making them more holistic artists overall.”
Boléro is part of the company’s recently announced Joffrey Studio Series, a comprehensive roster of free, virtual programming — from livestream performances and rehearsals to pre-recorded conversations — curated by Joffrey artists during the COVID-19 era. More information can be found at Joffrey Studio Series.
The Joffrey Crisis Stabilization Fund
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of the Joffrey’s 2020 Spring production of Yuri Possokhov’s Don Quixote and all performances of the 2020-2021 season — an estimated earned revenue loss of more than $12 million. The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, and Joffrey Community Engagement have moved to virtual programming and limited in-person classes indefinitely.
This season, the Joffrey will rely almost entirely on contributed revenue to meet its financial commitments. The establishment of the Joffrey Crisis Stabilization Fund attempts to recover lost funds stemming from Covid-19 and maintain basic operations through October 2021. To date, the Joffrey has raised $9.5 million of its $12 million goal.
About The Joffrey Ballet
The Joffrey Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the world today, with a reputation for boundary-breaking performances for more than 60 years. The Joffrey repertoire is an extensive collection of all-time classics, modern masterpieces, and original works.
Founded in 1956 by pioneers Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, the Joffrey remains dedicated to artistic expression, innovation, and first-rate education and engagement programming. The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE and President and CEO Greg Cameron.
The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2020-2021 Season Sponsors: Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, The Florian Fund, and Live Music Sponsors Sandy and Roger Deromedi, Sage Foundation, and The Marina and Arnold Tatar Fund for Live Music. The Joffrey also acknowledges our Season Partners Chicago Athletic Clubs, and Athletico Physical Therapy, official provider of physical therapy for The Joffrey Ballet.