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Beyond the Shore

"Beyond the Shore" by Nicolas Blanc is one of the works in "Modern Masters" by The Joffrey Ballet.

Photo by Cheryl Mann

The latest production by The Joffrey Ballet features dynamic works by a collection of stellar choreographers.

The winter program "Modern Masters" by The Joffrey runs through Feb. 18 at The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

"Modern Masters" stars the entire company in pieces by both iconic dance makers and today's new choreographers.

The work "Beyond the Shore" is a world premiere by Nicolas Blanc, who is the troupe's ballet master.

"It's 26 minutes long and all together features 20 people," Blanc said. "The piece remains abstract," the choreographer said, adding it features a soundscape and electronic music by Mason Bates.

Blanc's work transports audiences through different worlds and is visually striking.

The Joffrey's artistic director, Ashley Wheater, said he's happy to be presenting such an eclectic program for the winter season. It's also Wheater's 10th anniversary with the troupe and he said this season has a variety of special programs for dance lovers.

"The winter program is incredibly strong," Wheater said, adding that there are pieces by everyone from Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine to Myles Thatcher.

Through Wheater's 10 years with the troupe, he said he's admired the group of Joffrey artists he works with.

"I'm incredibly proud of the company, their work ethic and the way they've embraced the world of dance," he said.

About his offering on the winter program, choreographer Blanc said "Beyond the Shore" was in the works for about a year. He said acting as the ballet master for The Joffrey gives him an advantage when setting a new dance on the ballet artists.

"It's interesting being the ballet master. You get to know the dancers very well," he said, adding he can interact with them easily and knows their performance strengths.

Blanc said it's also wonderful working with Wheater and he admires what the artistic director has brought to The Joffrey.

"Ashley and I go back a long way," Blanc said. "We have a good relationship based on trust." The choreographer said he and Wheater share a similar "vision" of dance.

Dance fans will find much to enjoy in the "Modern Masters" program. Besides Blanc's piece being a highlight, one of the other fascinating pieces is "Body of Your Dreams" by Myles Thatcher, which includes a type of whimsical look at the fitness world, body image and what people do to keep in shape.

FYI: "Modern Masters" by The Joffrey Ballet runs through Feb. 18 at The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Tickets are $34 to $159. Call 312-386-8905 or visit


Features reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.