Joffrey Ballet brings new dances to Kravis Center

Posted: 4:00 p.m. Monday, March 14, 2016

The Joffrey Ballet lived up to its image Saturday of offering interesting and exciting dance works.

The dances presented as part of the company’s Kravis Center performance included works by Justin Peck, Nicolas Blanc, Myles Thatcher and Christopher Wheeldon. All are first-rate examples of the type of new work happening in the ballet world today.

Perhaps the clearest and most original work on the program was Peck’s In Creases, a work originally made for the New York City Ballet in 2012. In brief, Peck is one of the most original and talented choreographers to have emerged in the ballet world in the last 20 years. He is a gifted phrase maker, moving bodies around and through the space as no one else creating dance does today. In Creases is a chunky work. It presents its seams and welds for the entire world to see, while reveling in the glorious intricacies of its own construction.

Blanc’s Rendez-vous is one of those “more tricks per square inch of music” ballets. It is not a bad dance in itself, but perhaps its placement on the program makes it seem a tad insignificant. What saves it from being a high-end dance competition number is the wonderfully weighted and precise dancing by Cara Marie Gary and Alberto Velazquez.

Thatcher’s Passengers, a new piece made for the Joffrey this season, is a beautiful and challenging dance theater work. It is a sad 1940s triptych, exquisitely danced, beautifully lit and intelligently costumed. Full of vague, implied narrative vignettes, this work is viscerally stunning from beginning to end. Thatcher is a talented young choreographer who promises much more.

The program closed with Wheeldon’s Fool’s Paradise, a stark and deeply sad work that somehow still has the audience leave the theater uplifted. Wheeldon moves the audience into and out of one painfully sublime scene to the next. Fool’s Paradise is clearly the work of a master choreographer taking his time to investigate lonely and anguished terrain. Few ballets have this much pure visual beauty per second.

The dancers of the Joffrey are fierce and smoldering technicians. They move with the liquid flexion of cats, eating up space like few classical companies can. They are also gracious and thoughtful performers. The aesthetic platform laid out by founder Robert Joffrey all those years ago is still the artistic backbone of the company today.