‘Anna Karenina’ impresses with new choreography and sets


Alberto Velazquez and Victoria Jaiani in The Joffrey Ballet’s 'Anna Karenina..' (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Alberto Velazquez and Victoria Jaiani in The Joffrey Ballet’s ‘Anna Karenina..’ (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

4 stars

The Joffrey Ballet has accomplished a a near impossible feat. With Yuri Possokhov’s choreography to Ilya Demutsky’s score and dramaturg Valeriy Pecheykin’s libretto, the Joffrey has turned Leo Tolstoy’s 800-page “Anna Karenina” into an extraordinary ballet only a little over two hours long that is both classic and contemporary.

A co-production with The Australian Ballet, “Anna Karenina” is an exciting new work commissioned by The Joffrey that opened Feb. 13. Unfortunately, it is only at the Auditorium Theatre through Feb. 24, 2019 before touring.

From the steamy, sensuous divan scene between the illicit lovers, Victoria Jaiani as Anna and Alberto Velazquez as Count Vronsky, and the gorgeous  Joffrey company’s dance scenes, to the fascinating,  evocation of cinema-like atmosphere by Tom Pye’s set designs, David Finn’s lighting and Finn Ross’ projections, this new work is destined to be in high demand.

Other notable performances during its opening week (I saw the Feb. 16 matinee) were Fabrice Calmels as Anna’s unhappy, aristocratic husband, Count Alexey Karenin, Anais Bueno as Princess Kitty Shcherbatsky and Yoshihisa Arai as her pursuer, Konstantin Levin.

Possokhov’s choreography, backed by Dtmustskhy’s score played by the Chicago Philharmonic, totally puts across the ardor, agony and expectations of the Russian aristocracy of Tolstoy’s “Anna.”

This is a ballet to see again and again.

DETAILS: The Joffrey Ballet production of “Anna Karenina” is at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells (Congress Expressway at Michigan Avenue)  through Feb. 24, 2019. Running time: about 2 hrs. 10 min. with one intermission. For tickets and other information visit Joffrey/Anna.

Jodie Jacobs

Related article: Joffrey to debut new ballet.

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