A Weekend Of Cultural Activities

I had my girls over this weekend, and that was the most cultural activities we ever had in one and a half days!

We went to the CSO for Kids concert, which was the first time for Kira. Straight from there, we went to the Art Institute and saw the Dali exhibit (Nadia actually liked it, and even Kira showed some interest). Fortunately, the Art Institute recently reopened its cafe, so we had lunch there and then headed to the Ryan educational center, where Nadia made a collage on the Salvador Dali theme. As always, we spent a really long time there and started to head out only when they were about to close.

We then walked to the Bean and then to the Chicago Cultural Center and stopped there to see a Tiffany Dome.

On Sunday, Nadia and I went to Joffrey Ballet to see “The Little Mermaid,” a ballet composed by Lera Auerbach. Everything about this piece is amazing: the music, the choreography, the instruments, the costumes, and most importantly, how the fairy tale is interpreted.

I read the synopsis to Nadia while we were waiting for the train, and while I was reading, I thought: well, this does not look like a ballet for kids. When I finished reading and said: so that’s a very sad story, Nadia asked: why is it sad? And then I thought that probably she is right because at the end, both the Poet and the Little Mermaid found new meaning in their lives.

I found a very interesting link where Lera Auerbach talks about the score and how she chose the instrument for the Mermaid’s voice.

Here are a couple of pictures I found. I do not think they convey how amazing this ballet is, but it is at least something!

This promotional video gives at least some impression of how it feels – imagine 2.5 hours of such intensity!

And imagine Nadia sitting through it, watching!

Anna Karenina at Joffrey

Joffrey Ballet put on a new “Anna Karenina” production with an all-new score by Ilya Demutsky, which is stunning. I spend almost an hour searching for the best photos, and they can only remotely reveal what a stunning production it is. There is very little of Tolstoy left. For example, the best part is the scene of Anna and Vronsky’s intimacy, which is 100% against Tolstoy’s beliefs. If you remember this part of the novel, he does not describe the scene, he just said that “it happened.” And then, he describes all the horrible feelings of “murder” and how Anna is disgusted with what just happened. This goes with Tolstoy’s idea that sex is sinful and “unnatural” and ruins the love, not compliments it. All the nonsense that people with a strong desire often say since they feel guilty about how they feel.

Anyway, is erotic scene is so beautiful and so powerful!

Continue reading “Anna Karenina at Joffrey”

The Joffrey’s Nutcracker

I made an almost last-minute decision to go see the Nutcracker at Joffrey Ballet this morning (and to take mom with me). That’s because it was still so cold that you could barely walk outside, and I knew mom would have to be Ubered whenever we decided to go.

Most museums closed on Thursday afternoon and didn’t reopen yet, but Joffrey ballet sent an email saying that they keep all performances and that the 25% discount still works. Also, I found incredibly cheap seat very close to the stage, and that was perfect for mom (she can’t hear the orchestra from the balcony). So I purchased tickets for the 11 AM (!!!) performance and pre-ordered Uber both ways.

It was so good, I can’t even describe it! I love this Chicago version much more than the classical version – it is better in al possible ways. Each time I see it, I love it more, and it was something special in today’s performance. I overheard somebody saying that she had tears in her eye throughout the whole first act, and I felt the same. I hope Joffrey will never return to the classical version 🙂

Since if was so cold outside, I expected it to be chilly at the Opera house and was surprised to find it warm enough to check in the coats. A lady at the coat check told me that they started heating at 3 AM to make it comfortable!

One More CSO Concert

Yesterday’s concert was even better than last week’s. I know I am saying it for the third time in a row, but that’s true! 

I learned about this concert almost at the last minute and hurried to get tickets (my neighbor joined me). We still got very decent seats and had a great experience. 

Here is what the CSO website says about this concert:

Dancers from Chicago’s world-renowned Joffrey Ballet invigorate the Symphony Center stage with two newly commissioned choreographies set to Siegfried Idyll, Wagner’s glowing birthday gift to his wife, and Rameau’s vivid ballet, composed for a royal wedding at the Palace of Versailles. Ravel evokes Baroque dance in Le tombeau de Couperin, with each movement becoming a touching tribute to friends who died in World War I. The program opens with the beguiling elegance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 34. 

How could you describe a dance? Especially Joffrey Ballet! I sat all the time, holding my breath with my eyes wide open. I can’t say which one I liked better – both are gems. Probably, Rameau was more unexpected.

Unfortunately, there are no official videos, at least could not find them.

Actually, I take it back – I found one in the news, click here.

Joffrey Ballet

If I won’t return my ticket for the Music of Baroque concert, I would have three concerts in a row (and other cultural events Friday and Saturday :)). Yesterday, I saw “Beyond the borders” performance at Joffrey Ballet.

It consisted of three independent pieces: Vespertine by Liam Scarlett, Colorem by Da Silva, and the remake of Suite Saint-Saëns by Gerald Arpino. The last piece should have been supposedly the best of all three, and judging by the audience reaction, that’s how most patrons felt, but I loved the first two way more, and I am not even sure which of them was the best. These two pieces of choreography as so unusual, so blowing-away, I stared at the stage as if I am hypnotized all the time. Unfortunately, I could not find good pictures of these pieces anywhere on the web, maybe, they will appear later. I still hope that these two photographs from Vespertine give some sense of how it looked!

Once again, there were not that many people in the audience, and I have no idea why – the show is brilliant!

Joffrey Ballet

Last week was also ballet week. On Thursday, I went to see two short ballets: Balanchine’s “Serenade” and a modern ballet “Of Mice and Men” based on Steinbeck’s book.
I was cautious and skeptical about the latter; I could not imagine this book converted into a ballet, but it was fantastic!!!Below is a long segment about this performance here, which tells it all – I agree with every word of it!

On Saturday, there was a subscriber appreciation day. Subscribers were invited to have a late breakfast at the foyer, and then everybody was invited into the auditorium to see a rehearsal. It lasted an hour and a half, but it didn’t feel boring at all!

I renewed my subscription for the next season, but I decided to get only one ticket. If I have a company for some of the performances, I can always get an extra one. And this season, I had trouble finding anybody who would go with me!