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Presents Chicago Premiere of Exotic, Romantic Ballet set in India, La BayadÈre: The Temple Dancer


CHICAGO (September 18, 2013) – Less than a month after its special “Russian Masters” program, The Joffrey Ballet transports Chicago audiences to India with the Chicago Premiere of La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer, choreographed by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton WelchLa Bayadère is presented over 10 performances with orchestral accompaniment by The Chicago Philharmonic conducted by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck, at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, October 16 – 27.

Set in story-book India, La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer premiered at the Houston Ballet in 2010 and revolves around Nikiya, a temple dancer in the royal courts, her secret lover Solor, and the jealousy and betrayal that rips them apart.  Based on Marius Petipa’s classic choreography – including the famous “Kingdom of the Shades” scene, which Welch has left intact – Welch revitalizes a 19th century classic full of the fantastic mysticism of the Orient, complete with dancing Hindu gods and live snakes.

La Bayadère is a legendary ballet, with the third act ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ reigning as one of the most memorable dance sequences in the classical tradition,” said Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director.  “136 years after its creation, I sought a fresh way of telling the story.  Stanton Welch’s production breathes new life into La Bayadère, while retaining the best of Marius Petipa’s original choreography.  Stanton has compressed and clarified the story, focusing on physical action rather than traditional pantomime.  The story is told through movement with athleticism that appeals to contemporary audiences.”

A ballet in three acts, La Bayadère features lavish costumes and sets by British designer Peter Farmer and is accompanied by Ludwig Minkus’ score as arranged by John Lanchbery. The costume designs evoke a story-book India through traditional attire such as harem pants and saris.  “Peter’s scenic design is not a realistic depiction of India,” commented Welch.  “It’s like looking through an old picture book from western culture with a view of romanticized India.  The production has a very painterly look, almost reminiscent of Monet, which gives it dreaminess and romance.”  The lavish production includes 121 costumes comprised of 568 items.  This also includes 26 handmade white tutus for the “Kingdom of the Shades” scene.

The ballet opens in the wild, lush jungle of India as the brave warrior Solor kills a menacing Bengal tiger, consequently saving the life of the temple dancer Nikiya.  The two are love-struck, but Nikiya has devoted her life to dancing only for the gods.  However, the High Priest of the temple, or Brahmin, is also in love with Nikiya.  As a reward for killing the man-eating tiger, Solor is promised the hand in marriage of Gamzatti, the Rajah’s daughter, a further obstacle to Solor and Nikiya’s blossoming secret love.  From there, the drama compounds and the twists unfurl as Nikiya and Solor struggle to fulfill their love while the forces of jealousy, vengeance and fate conspire to keep them apart.

La Bayadère‘s third act, the famous “Kingdom of the Shades,” showcases the female ensemble dancers in white tutus, executing 38 synchronized arabesques as they slowly fill the stage, one of the purest forms of ballet-blanc, or white tutu ballet.  “The ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ is a challenging segment because it requires such control and precision from the women,” added Welch.  The “Kingdom of the Shades” is so popular it is often performed on its own.

Although the exact origin of the story of La Bayadère is unknown, it is an example of 19th century Romantic ballets set in an exotic location with a fascination with the Orient, spiritualism, triangular relationships, ethereal beings and dramatic plot lines.  Petipa’s La Bayadère premiered on the Bolshoi Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1877.

Tickets & Performance Schedule

Single tickets range from $31 to $152 and are available now at The Joffrey Ballet’s official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer runs Wednesday, October 16 through Sunday, October 27.  The full performance schedule is as follows:  Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 pm; Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 pm; Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 pm; Friday, October 25 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, Oct. 26 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, October 27 at 2 pm.

About the Artists

Stanton Welch (Choreographer) was born in Melbourne, Australia and began his training in 1986, quickly winning a scholarship to San Francisco Ballet School.  In 1989, he was engaged as a dancer with The Australian Ballet, where he rose to the rank of leading soloist.  Welch’s choreographic career developed during his time with The Australian Ballet.  In 1990, he received his first choreographic commission from the company, marking the beginning of a series of commissioned works over the next fourteen years and developing his diverse choreographic style.  In 1995, Welch was named resident choreographer of The Australian Ballet.  In 2003, Welch assumed the leadership of Houston Ballet, America’s fourth largest ballet company, as Artistic Director.  Since his arrival, Welch has transformed Houston Ballet by raising the level of classical technique, infusing the company with new energy, drive and vision; introducing works by distinguished choreographers to the repertoire; and attracting some of the world’s best coaches to Houston to work with the dancers.  He has created works for such prestigious international companies as Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet.

Born in Luton, England, Peter Farmer‘s prolific career in set and costume design includes over 300 productions in dance and theater.  Farmer’s first work in ballet was the design of Jack Carter’s Agrionia in 1964 for Ballet Rambert.  Since then he has created designs for many major ballet companies around the world, including Stuttgart Ballet, The Royal Ballet Touring Company, London Festival Ballet, The Australian Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Vienna State Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.  He made his debut with The National Ballet of Canada in 1973 when he designed Erik Bruhn and Celia Franca’s production of Les Sylphides.  In 1990, Farmer returned to the National Ballet to design the company’s production of Robert North’s Troy Game.  In 1992, he designed the sets and costumes for Houston Ballet’s production of Manon.  In 1995, The Australian Ballet unveiled Farmer’s sets and costumes for their production of Madame Butterfly choreographed by Stanton Welch.  Farmer continues to design for dance, creating sets and costumes for many companies across North America.

The Joffrey Ballet is Chicago’s premier ballet company committed to artistic excellence and innovation, presenting a unique repertory encompassing masterpieces of the past and cutting-edge works of today.  Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.  The Joffrey is also committed to providing arts education and accessible dance training through its Joffrey Academy of Dance and Community Engagement programs.

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2013-2014 Season Sponsors and Partners.  With special thanks to La Bayadère Presenting Sponsors, Margot and Josef Lakonishok; La Bayadère Production Sponsor, Jane Ellen Murray Foundation; Abbott Fund and NIB Foundation, Co-Sponsors of the 2013-2014 Season; United Airlines, Official & Exclusive Airline; Vanguard Weiss Memorial Hospital, Chicago Center for Orthopedics, Official Healthcare Provider; AthletiCo, Official Provider of Physical Therapy; JW Marriott, Official Hotel; and MAC, Official Cosmetic Sponsor.


Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker returns for its seasonal run at the Auditorium Theatre, bringing Tchaikovsky’s classic score to life with dancing snowflakes, battling toys, waltzing flowers and the splendor of the full Joffrey company on stage with over 100 young dancers from the Chicagoland area.  Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker is presented in 23 performances, December 6 – 28, 2013.

For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, please visit joffrey.org.



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