This evening was the Joffrey Ballet's free performance at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, and it was a huge success. It's the middle of September and Chicago gave us a beautiful day and evening for such a show. We are so lucky to live in a beautiful city like Chicago, particularly in a city that supports the arts so well and has one of the most spectacular outdoor theaters for all of Chicagoans to enjoy. It is such a pleasure to perform on the Pritzker stage, for its beauty, its setting, and most importantly for its ability to draw in unsuspecting patrons enjoying their afternoon or evening in the park. It makes dance more accessible to those that may not ordinarily see our work, and it provides the setting for such an enjoyable, art filled summer evening.
My day started at 10 am with class at the Joffrey studios on State Street. Class was followed by a dress rehearsal on the Pritzker stage, which in and of itself, attracted so many visitors and onlookers who simply happened to be at the park at the time. It's always wonderful to perform for an audience, in rehearsal or in performance, and even more so when you can look out and see the look of surprise and enjoyment on people's faces when they didn't expect to experience a cultural moment in the middle of their own busy and hectic days.
After rehearsal I managed to get something to eat, and headed quickly back to the theater to prepare for the actual show. I performed "Age of Innocence", but was partnered with April Daly for this performance. I usually perform this work with Victoria Jaiani, but there was a last minute (one day prior) cast change. Part of working in the professional dance world is to be able to work under any circumstances, with any partner, at any time. We have to be able to make any adjustments to the work that is necessary in order for the performance to appear flawless to the audience, no matter the circumstances. It is always interesting to partner different women in the company, and it is my job to know each of them as dancers. Victoria is incredibly flexible and because we work together so frequently, our established trust enables her to take calculated risks in our movement together. Because our only time to work together was during the stage rehearsal, partnering with April this evening was more calculated and careful. The change in casting was just different, not good or bad, simply different.
In the end, however, it was a successful and rewarding performance. As a performer looking out onto the Pritzker lawn, it seemed like a completely packed audience. I heard the speculation that there were over 10,000 attendees. It is so humbling and surreal to perform for numbers like that, and it is a rare opportunity that a dance company can do that for its city. Thank you Chicago!
I just want to thank all the people that came out to the show and supported us. It means a lot to me as a dancer, and I can only hope that you enjoyed the performance, from those that were experiencing ballet for the first time to those that have seen the Joffrey perform these works previously. We love and appreciate support from whomever it may come!
(previously written on September 18, 2009)