Joffrey Ballet, Thodos Dance Chicago documentaries debut this month
It isn’t often that local dance companies are profiled in cinemas or on television, although last summer’s Dance for Life: The Documentary included many in its portrait of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s annual benefit.
This month, however, features two in one week: Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance screens twice at the Gene Siskel Film Center, February 18 and 22; and Beneath the White City Lights debuts on WTTW-Channel 11 on February 23.
Mavericks, a history of the Joffrey Ballet, premiered already at New York’s Dance on Camera Festival, but hasn’t yet been seen in Chicago. White City tells the story of Melissa Thodos and Ann Reinking’s ballet about the 1893 Columbian Exposition, which introduced zippers, Ferris wheels, commemorative postage stamps and other 20th-century essentials to the world. (Its filmmaker, Chris Olsen, created the stage production’s video projections as well.)
The fair also coincided with the emergence of America’s first documented serial killer, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, as told by Erik Larson’s book The Devil in the White City. Thodos Dance Chicago member Jessica Miller Tomlinson says in the film that one of her favorite parts of performing The White City: Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 “was dancing in the death box” as a stand-in for Holmes’s young, female victims. “Because it was just so much fun.” TDC brings The White City back to the Harris Theater for its Winter Concert, March 2 and 3.
While White City can only go into so much detail in its half-hour time slot (10:30–11pm), and Mavericks isn’t as thorough with recent Joffrey history as it is with the company’s early years, both films are must-sees for local dance buffs. See the trailer for Mavericks and special guests at both Siskel screenings after the jump.
Following Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance, on February 18 at 8pm, dance and theater critic Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times moderates a discussion with director Bob Hercules; Joffrey Ballet photographer Herbert Migdoll; Harriet Ross, former managing director of the Gerald Arpino Foundation and of the Joffrey Ballet; and Charthel Arthur, rehearsal director and managing director of the Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey Foundation.
After the second screening, on February 22 at 8pm, Sid Smith, dance critic for the Chicago Tribune and editor at See Chicago Dance, moderates a discussion with director Bob Hercules, Joffrey Ballet artistic director Ashley Wheater, and Joffrey Ballet dancers Fabrice Calmels and April Daly.
Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance trailer: