Joffrey Ballet announces 2012–13 season

  • Photograph: Herbert Migdoll

    Victoria Jaiani with the Joffrey Ballet in James Kudelka�s Pretty BALLET (2010)

  • Photograph: Herbert Migdoll

    The Joffrey Ballet in Kurt Jooss�s The Green Table: A Dance of Death in Eight Scenes (chor. 1932, photo 2006)

  • Photograph: Herbert Migdoll

    April Daly and Fabrice Calmels of the Joffrey Ballet in Lar Lubovitch�s Othello (chor. 1997, photo 2009)

Photograph: Herbert Migdoll

Victoria Jaiani with the Joffrey Ballet in James Kudelka�s Pretty BALLET (2010)

The Joffrey Ballet released its plans today for performances at the Auditorium Theatre through May 5, 2013. Perhaps inspired by a new documentary about the troupe’s rich, unique history, its 2012–13 lineup is surprisingly introspective, with no company or world premieres. (Stanton Welch’s new work, onstage here next February, will have already had its official debut this summer at Jacob’s Pillow.)

A season like this one shows resistance to ballet’s common cold: wasting millions on one-term productions and celebrity “collaborations.” While its readings remain to be seen, the Joffrey Ballet nevertheless deserves praise, for raiding its institutional memory before asking supporters to open their wallets.

A fall program running October 17–28, 2012 brings back Pretty BALLET by James Kudelka, the highlight of a spring 2010 bill, set to Bohuslav Martinů; and Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land, dormant at the Joffrey since ’85. Forgotten Land was made in 1981 to music by Benjamin Britten, whose 100th birthday is next year. This year, landmark work The Green Table turns 80. A highly stylized and theatrical antiwar statement by Kurt Jooss, the piece will be honored, rightly so, as one of the Joffrey’s most historic revivals.

The Nutcracker follows with 21 performances December 7–27, as before not included in season subscriptions. The run of Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino’s version of the holiday chestnut, better than most, will include to-be-announced 25th-anniversary events.

A second mixed bill goes up February 13–24, 2013 with Chicago’s first look at what’s new from Welch, artistic director at Houston Ballet, alongside two American classics. Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs (1982) is the chamber-sized, Oscar de la Renta–costumed and more robust precursor to busy Broadway reincarnation Come Fly Away, recently here on its national tour. The jazzy, youthful energy of composer Morton Gould’s “American Concertette” drives the jazzy, youthful energy of Jerome Robbins’s Interplay, made in 1945 at the very beginning of Robbins’s storied career. The Joffrey first produced it in ’72.

Lar Lubovitch’s lavish, three-act Othello (1997) returns to close the season, April 24–May 5, 2013, and provides the lineup with one last birthday tie-in, to the choreographer’s 70th.

The Chicago Sinfonietta will continue the Joffrey Ballet’s committment to live orchestral music for its performances, always a welcome bit of news and also none too common. Season subscriptions—again, sans The Nutcracker—start at $81 and are available beginning February 13. Single tickets start at $31 and go on sale August 6, online and at box offices at the Joffrey Tower (10 E Randolph St, 312-386-8905) and the Auditorium Theatre (50 E Congress Pkwy, 800-982-2787).

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)