As the music begins, a dancer rolls out under one of the giant leaves hanging from the rafters on stage, stretching himself out like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. He moves elegantly, his fluid movements akin to a leaf blowing in the wind.
The Joffrey Ballet presents the streaming world premiere of Nicolas Blanc’s Under the Trees’ Voices, a work that Blanc was inspired to create while walking along Lake Michigan, according to a press release by the Joffrey Ballet. The new ballet, set to Symphony No. 2 by Italian composer Ezio Bosso, embodies the calming force of nature and the strong bonds of community.
Scenes from Nature
Blanc takes the audience into a forest scene not only with the giant leaf set pieces but also through lighting and costume. The lighting is soft and muted, like seeing the sunlight filtered through the trees in a forest. The dancers’ costumes are sheer, sprinkled with leaf embellishments, as if the dancers are falling leaves themselves, swirling around in the wind.
Bosso’s score featuring string instruments is soft and elegant, at first very simple, just one note hanging in the air. As the piece continues, the music gets more full-bodied and lively, and the dancers' movements echo the change.
The Joffrey Ballet Evokes a Variety of Emotions
Under The Trees’ Voices is set in four sections, each with a different feeling, the first section is softer and more melancholy, the stage filled with dim purple and blue hues in the lighting. The dancers move slowly and softly, the focus on one male dancer. This section is reminiscent of the beginnings of spring when nature is just awakening from a long winter.
The second section features an ensemble of all-female dancers. Pink and purple hues brighten the stage and the women move with power and fluidity, with rippling arm movements and fast-paced turns moving together in circles. There is a warmth and spark of excitement in this section that is juxtaposed to the third section, which is somber with a returned darkness to the stage. According to a press release by the Joffrey Ballet, this section is a metaphor for loss. A trio of dancers stands on stage. Two dancers standstill, statues on stage intertwined while the third performs a solo reaching for them but unable to reach them.
The last section, evoking feelings of hope and light, is lit with bright yellow tones and a more lively score. The dancers run across the stage energetically performing elaborate leaps and jumps. The piece ends with the dancers all moving in unison together as one community, reaching up toward the sky as the music hits the final note and the stage goes black.
Under The Trees’ Voices takes audiences on an emotional journey through feelings of loss and sadness to hope and excitement, using images and metaphors of nature and spring.
This performance is a top pick for both longtime dance enthusiasts and relative newcomers to ballet.
Run time: 28 minutes
Choreography: Nicolas Blanc
Music: Ezio Bosso
Symphony No. 2: Under The Trees’ Voices by arrangement with Sony Music
Scenery and Lighting: Jack Mehler
Costume: Nicolas Blanc and Eleanor Cotey
Rehearsal Directors: Adam Blyde and Suzanne Lopez
About the Author: Hayley Ross
Hayley Ross is a writer, arts marketer, dancer, and fitness instructor in Chicago, IL. Originally from Ohio, Hayley has studied Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, and African dance and teaches Pilates and Barre fitness classes. She has previously worked for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Harris Theater for Music and Dance, American Dance Festival, OhioDance, and The Chautauqua Institution. She is currently the Advertising and Marketing Manager for the League of Chicago Theatres.