Although the Ballet Chicago Studio Company isn’t a professional troupe (the members are advanced students from the School of Ballet Chicago), it’s had plenty of experience with one of the world’s most demanding yet rewarding choreographers, George Balanchine. Famously challenging on a technical level, Balanchine’s dances also require a delicate emotional touch. Like his countryman Vladimir Nabokov, he put human relationships under a microscope. Yet his cool, nearly clinical approach discovers some teasingly powerful feelings.
Ballet Chicago artistic director Dan Duell—a former Balanchine dancer—has had BCSC performing something by Mr. B. every year since 1997. This weekend the company offers its first-ever evening-length all-Balanchine program at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Joined by several guest artists, BCSC will perform “Balanchine Masterworks,” comprising three ballets. Set to Bach, the whistle-clean Concerto Barocco (1941), embodies harmony and order. Rubies (a 20-minute excerpt from Balanchine’s 1967 Jewels) is as angular and piquant as its music—Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. And Who Cares? (1970), set to Gershwin tunes, opens the door a bit to everyday emotion. During a preview of that piece’s central duet, “The Man I Love,” BCSC alums Ted Seymour and Ellen Green conveyed volumes with a glance or a walk apart.