The Joffrey Ballet's "Winter Fire" program: | Performing Arts Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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The Joffrey Ballet's "Winter Fire" program:

High-tech with a tender streak

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British choreographer Wayne McGregor has long been known for combining technology with dance. But he goes soft with Infra—sort of. Created in 2008 for London's Royal Ballet (where McGregor is resident choreographer) and receiving its U.S. premiere here, as part of the Joffrey's "Winter Fire" program, this piece for 12 has a techie feel thanks to Julian Opie's giant LED images of walking figures and Max Richter's composition for strings, piano, and short-wave radio. McGregor's fiendish choreography bends, folds, and practically mutilates ballet-trained bodies: the rapidly waving or cantilevered torsos anchored by rigid legs are particularly impressive. Yet there's no harsh, mechanical edge. At once astringent and tender, the dancing—and strong acting—in Infra boost its trajectory as it explores urban isolation and celebrates human connection. Also on the bill: the company premiere of William Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated—which the Joffrey has previously performed in bits and pieces—and Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain.

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