Wednesday June 20 2:55 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Joffrey Ballet’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is Magnificent

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The Swedish Ambassador to the United States, Karin Olofsdotter, was in the audience opening night, as was Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule, and many other dignitaries. Apparently the Ambassador was quite complimentary to Chicago.

Choreographer Alexander Ekman’s cutting-edge ballet celebrates the Swedish midsummer festival with a day-long party celebrating the longest day of the year in Act I; while Act II is a very bizarre dream. “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is danced to original music by Mikael Karlsson; with vocals by Swedish indie rock singer, Anna von Hausswolff.

As the audience finds their seats in the Auditorium Theatre, A Dreamer (Temur Suluashvili) sleeps on the stage. Someone drags him out of bed and off to the party.

The festival opens with the entire company playing in hay. In synchronized movements, the kneeling dancers wave handfuls of hay, occasionally throwing it up in the air. The hay almost seems to fall in time to the music. I thought it was exceptionally beautiful.

As the first act continue, the company participated in more typical festival activities – umbrella races, sack races, and so on. The Chef on pointe (Fernanco Duarte) tended a barbecue grill. By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man wearing toe shoes before, much less dancing in them. I was in awe as he pranced around the stage. The day of play culminates in a drunken banquet at a giant table, complete with place settings and candlebras.

During intermission, A Dreamer is back in bed. Act II is his dream about the festival. Everything is just slightly askew. The bed is suspended in mid-air. The Dreamer is on top of the banquet table, which now looks like a ski jump. As Bodies drop off the table he struggles to stay put, but eventually falls – in slow motion – toward the floor. A fish falls from the sky and a ballerina picks it up, while a couple of giant fish chase the dancers.

Featured dancers on opening night include: A Dreamer - Temur Suluashvili; A Hostess – Victoria Jaiani; Lovers - Jeraldine Mendoza & Greig Matthews, Brooke Linford & Graham Maverick; Two Friends – Valena Chaykina & April Daly; Mr. Canon – Derrick Agnoletti; A Bubbler Hansol Jeong; Chef on pointe – Fernando Duarte; A Man with a flag – Fabrice Calmels; and the Headless men – Edson Barbosa, Elivelton Tomazi.

The Joffrey Ballet performs “Midsummer Night’s Dream” through May 6th at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway, Chicago. The best parking option I’ve found is Loop Auto Parks, 524 S Wabash (under the El) at $20; $16 with coupon available at www.auditoriumtheatre.org/plan-your-visit/parking-and-directions/.