CHICAGO — After nearly three decades dancing and choreographing with the Royal Ballet in his native London, and another in Glasgow as the director of the Scottish Ballet, award-winning choreographer Ashley Page struck out on his own as a freelancer. After leaving the Scottish Ballet in 2012, Page now travels the globe creating contemporary ballets for some of the world’s most reputable companies; his latest project is a commission for Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet as part of its upcoming mixed bill: Bold Moves.
Page was approached by Joffrey’s Artistic Director Ashley Wheater in 2012, while creating an abstract work for San Francisco Ballet called Guide to Strange Places (set to the John Adams score of the same name). The Brits trained together at the Royal Ballet School, but hadn’t seen much of each other since the 1970’s. “Ashley [Wheater] knew of my work and felt it would be a good ‘fit’ for me to create something new with his company,” said Page in an email interview. Four years later, the idea is becoming a reality as Page prepares a world-premiere for 12 dancers. The yet untitled work is an abstract ballet set to British composer Thomas Adès’ violin concerto, Concentric Paths. Page draws additional inspiration from Lars von Trier’s 2011 apocalyptic film Melancholia and his creative team: scenic/costume designer and long-time collaborator Jon Morrell and David Finn, whose lighting was the backbone of Guide to Strange Places.
Page refers to Adès’ music as the “primary investigator,” transforming its dark, dramatic tones into physical form. “It’s not easy to write so specifically about an abstract dance work that hasn’t been created yet,” he said, “but I want to stress that this will not be a narrative ballet… My task as choreographer is to try to harness this complex, often powerfully dark material and make it ‘visible’ to the audience.”
Also on the program is last season’s exquisite company premiere RAkU by San Francisco Ballet’s resident choreographer Yuri Possokhov, and a reprise of Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land, danced by Wheater when the company premiered it in 1985.
The Joffrey Ballet presents ‘Bold Moves’ Feb. 10 – 21 at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (50 E. Congress Pkwy). Tickets are $32-155, available at Joffrey Tower (10 E. Randolph St), the Auditorium Theatre Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.