The Joffrey Ballet’s Midsummer’s Night Dream – Quite The Visual, Theatrical Feast

Spread the love

Written by Jennifer Lunz and Robert Sanchez

The Joffrey Ballet closes it’s 2023-24 season with renowned Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s immersive theatrical experience of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

Ekman’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is a mind-bending trip to a surreal realm of unearthly delights. Completely different from William Shakespeare’s play, this version pays homage to the summer solstice and the Scandinavian Midsummer holiday—a time of uproarious celebration, mystery, adventure, and love. Midsummer Night’s Dream is presented in ten performances only at the historic Lyric Opera House, 20 North Upper Wacker Drive, from April 25-May 5, 2024.

Midsummer’s Night – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

Alexander Ekman dares to be bold with Midsummer Night’s Dream, creating an astonishing dance/theater performance of tremendous theatricality and scale,” said The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE. “Playing to the strengths of Joffrey Company Artists to convey the evolution of our art form, woven together with the trailblazing talents of Ekman’s creative team, Midsummer gifts audiences with an unforgettable experience to end our 2023-24 season.”

Midsummer’s Night Dream – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

Midsummer features an original and creative score by Swedish composer Mikael Karlsson, who has partnered with Ekman on several major works, including his popular contemporary work Tulle, which received its US premiere by The Joffrey Ballet in 2015.

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

Ekman’s ode to the longest day of the year follows a traditional Midsummer festival, from a passionate, lively celebration by day to a whirlwind dream by night. Ekman’s picturesque fusion of classical and contemporary ballet blurs the line between the real and the imagined, making audiences wonder, was it all just a dream?

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

Midsummer Night’s Dream features live music performed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet.

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

My friend and I simply adored Midsummer’s Night Dream. We had never seen a ballet performance quite like this one, which was perfected by the always talented Joffrey Ballet ensemble. This was not your typical, traditional classic ballet. Instead, we were pampered with a production full of fantasy and creativity. We would not expect less from the Joffrey. It was a very well choreographed artistic performance of crafted precision, artistry, dedication and energy.

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

Swedish indie rock sensation, Anna Von Hausswolff, lent her voice as the narrator with quite a range of in depth octaves. We learned that she is best known for pushing the limits of metal, experimental pop, and progressive rock. Strong emotions and melodic chants channeled the vocals reminiscent of singers Kate Bush and Tori Amos.

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

The ballet was performed in two acts. The opening act started strong with an eye opening number, which celebrated the tradition of the Scandinavian’s Midsummer’s holiday with straws of hay, being worked as if they were flags was quite creative, playful and eye-catching. It was captivating, mesmerizing and enjoyable to witness such carefree expression.

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

However, what followed fell short of keeping our attention, as the first act seemed to linger and drag. Having the ensemble drunkenly toast, laugh and dance was a fun, feisty festivity for us audience members, but then the dancers were standing silently and smiling at us for several, long awkward minutes. There were summer people suntanning, a cigar smoking grillmaster only wearing sunglasses, an apron and chef hat, along with other bizarre, yet fascinating characters. However, I kept wondering: When would the dancing begin?

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

The second act produced much more momentum for us as audience members. The dream sequence performance was beautifully choreographed, complete with precision, timed movement, which kept us so engrossed throughout that you could hear a pin drop.

Wed, Apr 24, 2024 — LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

As for the musical score, along with the haunting, beautiful vocals of Anna Von Hausswolff, it beautifully consisted of a bit of a synth-pop feel, which complimented all dance performances with scores that paid tribute to the likes of Angelo Badalamenti, Brian Eno, Talking Heads and Ryuchi Sakamoto.

Midsummer’s Night Dream Ensemble – LACSHA© Cheryl Mann 2024

The breathtaking, creative set designs were minimal yet effective, as were the costumes, which were beautifully constructed with a touch of surrealism and whimsical details. Add in comical props like falling fish, upside down trees and headless bodies walking around in suits, we sat at the edge of our seats excited for whatever was to come next. The second act expressed the utmost example of surrealism, with dashes of humor, as if taken out of one of Salvador Dali’s painted dreams and nightmares.

Midsummer’s Night Dream must close soon. Please do not miss out on what I think is one of the most original and entertaining Joffrey Ballet productions you will see all year in Chicago! I highly recommend it!

Photos: LACSHA© Cheryl Mann

Single tickets start at $36 and are available for purchase at Lyric Opera Box Office located at 20 N. Upper Wacker Dr. and by telephone at 312.386.8905, or online at the website.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.