Friday, May 24, 2013

Dudes on Dance: "Rodin" Edition [Video]

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The Auditorium Theatre invited three gentleman, who had either never seen dance before or had seen it and not liked it, to be our guests at a performance of the "Rodin" by the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg. Take a look to see how our "dudes" reacted to their first Eifman Ballet encounter! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Message About Dance from Boris Eifman

By Boris Eifman

The language of the body is one of the most ancient. It fixed the memory of sensual life of our ancestors’ many generations, and it makes dance a unique way to express the emotional world of human. Not only any feelings, movements of human nature can be displayed, but also the most complex intellectual and philosophical ideas. So dance is the very delicate tool that turns the artist’s hands into magic means to cognize the secrets of being.

During many decades I have been engaged in the development of human body’s expressiveness, using it for investigation of the individual’s inner and mental world. One of the most important creative tasks for me is to restore the lines that always united the ballet and psychological theatre, but were lost in XX century, in the era of choreographic abstraction. Psychologism must be inherent not only in drama, but also dance. Keeping this fundamental approach I create major ballet performances that are distinguished by acute intensity of emotions, serious dramatic basis and deep philosophical content. And coming to our ballets, the spectator finds the most important thing – catharsis, powerful emotional shock that cleanses the soul. A true magic of art is concealed in a similar impact.

Dance is a universal language of spiritual communication, rejecting cultural, national or any other barriers. Reflecting on the eternal themes of freedom, love, human passions, we play our performances with equal success in America, Asia, Europe, and Australia and constantly evoke in hearts of the audience the most vivid emotional response. I am delighted that owing to the support of Ardani Artists Management and direction of the Auditorium Theatre ofRoosevelt University of Chicago our theatre has an opportunity to perform its art on this excellent modern stage for interested and appreciative audience in America, every meeting with which becomes truly memorable for us.

The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg

Venue: Landmark Stage
Dates: Friday, May 17 - Sunday, May 19, 2013
Times: Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 3:00 pm
Price: $90-$30
Visionary choreographer Boris Eifman’s full-length ballets combine dramatic stagecraft, exquisite technique and powerful dramatic interpretation. His newest ballet, Rodin, is based on the life of French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) and his turbulent relationship with his mistress and muse, Camille Claudel. Set to music by Saint-Saëns, Massenet and Ravel, Rodin is a tale of artistic inspiration and the terrible price of genius.
Oleg Gabyshev, Principal Dancer of the Eifman Ballet, received the Golden Mask Russian National Theater Award for the title role in "Rodin."

Box Office: 50 E. Congress Pkwy. | Phone: 800.982.ARTS (2787) | Groups of 10+ 312.341.2357

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Note from Brett Batterson, Executive Director [MUSIC+MOVEMENT SHOWCASE]

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MUSIC: An art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions.

MOVEMENT: A series of motions that match the speed and rhythm of a piece of music.

MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL: A one-of-a-kind festival featuring 11 world premieres commissioned by the Auditorium, partnering live music with ground-breaking dance.

We opened this festival defining it in terms as simple as these; a few phrases to describe the journey we began this past February with the launch of the Auditorium Theatre’s MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL, and look how far we’ve come.

Over the past few months, an incredible amount of talent has passed through our doors, and the collaborations that have formed through this festival have shown the vast amount of originality and diversity amongst Chicago artists. We are so thrilled to offer Auditorium audiences a second chance to see a selected group of these exciting performances in this evening’s showcase on our landmark stage along with the always wonderful Giordano Dance Chicago.

Tonight, you will witness six of the original MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL premiere pieces from some of Chicago’s top dance companies and musicians. Originally performed as workshops in the Auditorium’s Katten/Landau Studio spanning February through April, all performances were reviewed by a panel of distinguished, anonymous dance professionals who selected six pieces for tonight’s program: Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre with musicians James Sanders, Stu Greenspan and Joe Cerqua; Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s BAM! with the Greg Spero Trio and Tressa Thomas; DanceWorks Chicago with Paul Wertico; Kuumba Lynx with Urban Aspirations; Mexican Dance Ensemble with Los Condenados Huastecos; and Thodos Dance Chicago with Amanda Batterson.

I want to again extend special thanks to our sponsors for this festival. Demonstrating their continued commitment to artistic quality and increased diversity, The Chicago Community Trust, The Boeing Company and The Joyce Foundation have made generous contributions to support the Auditorium Theatre’s self-produced MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL. All three of these wonderful community partners, support programs like our MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL which increase the diversity of Chicago audiences, create works by artists of color and enhance the cultural fabric of the city. We could not have done this without them.

Although one major festival performance is over, I hope you were here for the River North Dance Chicago/Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic collaboration Havana Blue. Completing the festival, four companies, Kalapriya Dance Company, Full Effect Entertainment Theatrical Dance Company, Joel Hall Dancers and Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center’s Bryant Ballet, will revive their pieces throughout the city through June, offering a wider audience the ability to see the innovative, ground-breaking collaborations that have brought some of the most talented dance and music combinations together. Look for a stuffer in tonight's program to learn more about the locations and details of these performances.

Thank you again for joining us this evening. I hope the collaborations you see brought to life on our historic stage tonight inspire you to visit us again for our upcoming 2013–14 Season of world-class dance and music.

Brett Batterson
Executive Director 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Simplicity and Complexity in the Musée Rodin

In April, I took a special trip to Paris, France with my aunt. With the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's performance of the ballet, Rodin, just a few weeks away at the Auditorium Theatre, I couldn't miss the opportunity to visit the Musée Rodin to gain unique perspective on Boris Eifman's newest work.

Located in the former Hôtel Biron, Musée Rodin houses the largest collection of his works as well as a garden. With their strict precision and bright colors, French gardens are beautiful and impressive in spring. Musée Rodin's is different. The foliage and blooms are more subdued highlighting the bronze monuments of the revered sculptor's most famous works with glimpses of the Eiffel Tour in the background.

The Thinking Man with
The Eiffel Tour in the background

Known for creating works that explore the human body and emotions like love and loss, Boris Eifman could not have selected a better visual artist on which to create a ballet. Similar to dance, I was struck by how simple Rodin's sculptures were at first glance, and then appreciated the complexity of the work as I processed details like facial expressions, body positions, muscle tones and emotions that are captured. 

The Three Shades - simple shape yet complicated details
I'm excited to watch the Eifman Ballet bring Auguste Rodin, his sculptures and his relationship with his mistress and muse, Camille Claudel to life in a couple weeks. Here are a few more photos from the museum's gardens, and learn more about them here.
The Gates of Hell - a simple door from a far
can become so much more
Ugolino and His Children

View of Musée Rodin from the north side of the garden

The detail of the bronze monuments were captivating.
Look at the detail in this opened boot.

Me and my aunt in front of The Thinking Man.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Pieces and The People of the MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL SHOWCASE

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After 10 original performances over three months, The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University has selected six Chicago dance companies to perform on the landmark stage for the MUSIC + MOVEMENT SHOWCASE. Learn about the companies and the pieces they will be performing below!

En la huasteca

Choreography: Samuel Cortez
Music: Los Condenados Huastecos
Carmen Gallardo, Nina Sandoval, Maira Jimenez, Mirella Borjon, Yesenia Alvarez, Beatriz Leyva, Maricela Gallegos, Liz Ledezma, Edgar Medrano, Gustavo Martinez, Eduardo Cortez, Anthony Ledezma, Ezequiel Flores, Rickey Ledezma, Angel Ledezma, Isidro Padilla, Nayeli Villagomez, David Carrillo, Teresa Perez, Betsy Corral, Blanca Acevedo, Natalia Cardenas, Hector Briseño, Jose Enrique Vazquez, and Edgar Hernandez

The Huapango is a product of a sentiment manifested by music chords, lyrics, and a wooden platform resonating soft heel clicking, which symbolizes the Huasteca culture. The Huapango arose during the colonial period’s Spanish-influenced dances and popular lyrics; yet, it retained aspects of the mestizo and indigenous sectors and identifies itself as a regional culture. Based on different traditions from this region, MDE premiers “En la huasteca,” a set of huapangos, that take us to this land of beautiful music and tradition.

Created for the MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL and premiered by Mexican Dance Ensemble at the Auditorium Theatre’s Katten/Landau Studio on April 7, 2013.

Push Past Break

Choreography: Michelle Dorrance
Music: “St. Louis Blues,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Anywhere I Can”
Composition: W.C. Handy, Mae Boren Axton, Tommy Durden, and Toshi Reagon
Music performed by: Greg Spero (Piano), Junius Paul (Bass),
Xavier Breaker (Drums) and Tressa Thomas (Vocalist)
Lighting: Joshua Paul Weckesser
Heather Brown, Tristan Bruns, Kristi Burris, Zada Cheeks, and Starinah Dixon 

“Some of the great indigenous American art forms: the blues, tap dance, hip hop/house, have deeprooted rhythmic and vernacular connections. We find their origins and roots in the poorest, often most oppressed people and circumstances the country has known and yet these forms illustrate that devastation can be the foundation for dynamic joyful expression.
—Michelle Dorrance (Choreographer)

The creation of “Push Past Break” was supported by the Princess Grace Foundation and the MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL, premiered by Chicago Human Rhythm Project at the Auditorium Theatre’s Katten/Landau Studio on April 4, 2013.

Welcome To The Salon/Barber Shop — Get Your Journal In! — I Got These Kids

Choreography: Christopher “Mad Dog” Thomas (Footwork and Hip Hop Dance Educator)
Musical Performance by: Urban Aspirations — Executive Director Marcus Burks, U.A. Ensemble Member Sam Trump, Winston Tyler, Everett Reid and Eric Williams
Original Compositions by: Winston Tyler
Co- Directors: Jacinda Bullie and Jaquanda Villegas
Assistant Choreography: Oshe Bates, Darius Parker, Davonte Williams, and Eddie Martin Jr.
KLAdult Ensemble
Jaquanda Villegas, Christopher Thomas, Jacinda Bullie, Keith Redmond, and Darius Parker
KLPerformance Ensemble Apprentices
Kieyana Itson, Oshe Bates, Sahara Burton, Tanya Smith, Jeremiah Perry, Jahleigh Bullie, Sejahari Villegas, Ariel Salgado, Karina Salgado, Stephany Sanchez, AshleyNaes de Venecia, Dwight Alaba, Marquis Hudson, Da’Shay Barlow, Tatiana Serrato, Mike Johnson, Alexis Pettis, Mike Jones, Artezia Hussan, and Marshan Hall

Created for the MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL and premiered by Kuumba Lynx at the Auditorium Theatre’s Katten/Landau Studio on March 24, 2013.



Choreography: Melissa Thodos
Music: Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Pugnani) by Fritz Kreisler
Violinist: Amanda Batterson
Costumes: Rosella Nitti
Lighting: Nathan Tomlinson, Jacob Snodgrass
Annie Deutz, Caitlin Cucchiara, Diana Robertson, Ray Dones, Kyle Hadenfeldt, and Joshua Manculich

Created for the MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL and premiered by Thodos Dance Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre’s Katten/Landau Studio on February 28, 2013.


Lagrimas Negras- Black Tears

Choreography: Wilfredo Rivera
Composition: Miguel Matamoros
Music performed by: James Sanders, Violin; Pharez Whitted, Trumpet; Dan Hesler, Flute;
Marc Abel, Keyboards; Stu Greenspan, Bass; Rob Dicke, Drums; Joe Cerqua, Vocals
Laura Chiuve, Jennifer Colvin, Rachel Cortes, Andrea Deline, Kate Dempsey, Evan Howard, Maxey Koch, Marc Macaranas, Madison Suffredini, and Raphaelle Ziemba

Created for the MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL and premiered by Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre at the Auditorium Theatre’s Katten/Landau Studio on March 2, 2013.

From Here to There

Choreography: Francisco Aviña
Music composed and performed by: Paul Wertico
Costumes: Vin
Lighting: Todd L. Clark
Assistants to the choreographer: Odbayar Batsuuri and Shauna Zambelli
Music editing: Christopher Perricelli/New Realm Studios
Greg Blackmon, Steffi Cheong, Marissa Horton, Demetrius McClendon, Angela Dice Nguyen, and Matt Wenckowski

Commissioned by the Auditorium Theatre as part of their MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL and premiered by DanceWorks Chicago at the Katten/Landau Studio in Chicago, IL, on April 7, 2013.Generously underwritten by Trudy and Jim Westerman.



Choreography: Autumn Eckman with concept and structure by Nan Giordano
Original Music: Evan Bivins
Music performed by: Evan Bivins, Kevin O’Donnell
Costumes: Nina G
Lighting: Kam Hobbs
Devin Buchanan, Joshua Blake Carter, Zachary Heller, Lindsey LaFountain, Lindsey Leduc, Maeghan McHale, Ashley Rockwood, Sean Rozanski, Meredith Schultz, Martin Ortiz Tapia

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Q&A with Ginger Thatcher, Assistant to Choreographer Lar Lubovitch

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Interview by: Amanda McAlpine

Over the past two weeks, The Joffrey Ballet has had the pleasure of working with world-renowned choreographer, Lar Lubovitch and his assistant, Ginger Thatcher, whose impressive background includes choreographing for theatre productions, film, TV, dance and opera, and working as Associate Choreographer for many Broadway shows. In speaking with Ginger, it was evident that her warm personality, passion for dance, and fondness for choreography have all been contributors of her success. In this interview, Ginger provides a unique perspective to working with Lar and shares her experience rehearsing with The Joffrey Ballet.

AM: How did you become involved with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company? With an amazing reputation and internationally recognized, was it an easy decision to make to join the company?

GT: It was a natural progression for me and I was ready to make a move after I had been withCleveland Ballet for 10 years. I had danced in a work by Lar, while in Cleveland Ballet, and had kept in touch with him over the years, so I was absolutely thrilled when he asked me to join his company. I have always been attracted to companies who perform diverse works, both classical and contemporary. When I was dancing professionally, Cleveland Ballet was closest to The Joffrey in terms of repertoire and I was able to dance principal roles there. The training was also fantastic- we got to take José Limon workshops and then perform a Limon piece. It was rare to be able to have that in-depth training for a specific piece. The workshops were extremely helpful because they enriched the movement. What attracts me to companies like the Joffrey, is the diverse repertoire, and the company’s ability to execute such a wide range of styles so effortlessly. 
AM: What’s it like working with Lar- First being a dancer in his company and now his assistant?

GT: I have always enjoyed working with Lar because he is not only highly respectful of his dancers, but he allows us to be a part of the creative process. As this is not common practice in classical ballet, I was speechless when he first asked for input on how best to execute one of his steps [laughs]. That was the first time anyone had ever asked me that, and I had not been exposed to the idea of actually contributing to a work with the choreographer. In classical ballet, you are given the steps, and you generally have to execute them as you are directed.  The idea of collaboration is much more common in contemporary dance.

AM: Who inspires you to choreograph?

GT: I really appreciate Lar’s choreographic style- his movements are so unique and beautiful. I really admire both Lar and Jiří Kylián as choreographers. They are extraordinary. Lar produces genius work, so it makes it difficult to choreograph [smiles] it’s hard to find a new lift that he hasn’t already thought of. I find that my voice comes out from working with him, but I can take from my Broadway background and classical background to find my own voice.

AM: You have quite a diverse background: Broadway, modern dance and classical ballet. What was your training like?

GT: Growing up as a navy “junior” I traveled everywhere, receiving very diverse training, even within the classical technique. From RAD training, to Vaganova training, and I quickly had to adapt. In the end, I think my diverse training helped me to become stronger, more adaptable, and well-rounded in my dancing. I was also strong in contemporary dance- which made dancing with Lar’s Company a great transition from Cleveland Ballet. I always had an interest in Musical Theater growing up, so I took acting classes, voice lessons and tap lessons.  I loved it all.

AM: How were you able to become a choreographer and work on so many different projects? How did these opportunities arise?

GT: I was lucky to have had some great opportunities to become involved with choreographing. Ben Stevenson inspired me and allowed me to work on projects as an apprentice with the Houston Ballet. Additionally, I was the founding director of a choreography project called “New Steps” while in Cleveland, with two other dancers, Margaret Carlson, and David Shimotakahara, which garnered an “Achievement in the Arts” nomination. Lar was always very generous when I joined his company, and allowed me to use his studio space for free- and I am grateful for that.

 I’ve also had the pleasure of performing in musicals such as West Side Story, Carousel, Phantom, Peter Pan, ShowboatEvita, etc. I was fortunate that Lar asked me to be his assistant on The Red Shoes for Broadway.  One thing led to another and that show opened up the doors for me to work again on Broadway with Carousel, Big with Susan Stroman, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, A Year with Frog and Toad, and Oklahoma! , again with Susan Stroman. I will be her Associate for a new musical in 2014.

AM: How is working on Othello different than some of the other works you have done? (I.e. The Red Shoes) What is special about Othello?

The movement speaks the story- not the other way around. Othello is unique because it is a dance in 3 acts, which follows the typical format of a classical ballet, but there is hardly any pantomime.  The story is told through dance alone. It’s also special because it was Lar’s first 3 act production he ever created. I was especially honored when he asked me to be his assistant in this process because it was new for him. Lar’s choreography works so well with Othello because of his contemporary style and overall design of movement. I like to think of Lar’s choreography as “designing in space.” There are a lot of circular sweeping movements, (which is challenging for classically trained dancers to move in this way) - you can get very sore! The music is also a difficult score for the dancers to move to. The counts are not in typical eight-counts, if it’s counted at all. It’s beautiful but very challenging. However, The Joffrey is the best company to receive Lar’s work because of their diverse movement abilities. They are able to execute anything they are given and it’s also rewarding to see the principal dancers growing from the last time they performed Othello in 2009. This version of Othello is going to be the best yet; Lar is continuing to perfect the movements from all of the versions of Othello he has set on other companies including ABT, so this work continues to evolve with each version.  There is a layer of richness that is brought to this production that will make it truly special. It’s also motivating for the dancers to work with Lar because of the “kinetic intelligence” that one finds in his movement.  Lar’s choreography is never just steps. The dancers are challenged because of the way they need to execute the shapes and flow of movement, and through the movement comes the emotional story. Dancing this work is very fulfilling. 

The Joffrey Ballet’s Othello will be performed at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., 800-982-2787, April 24 – May 5, 2013. Tickets ($31-152) are available at the box office or on This will be the last time to see The Joffrey performOthello in Chicago, as it will be retired from active repertory. 

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