For groundbreaking music, historic dance and museum-quality scenic design, nothing this summer beats the Diaghilev program to be danced by the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on June 26 and 27.
Impresario Sergei Diaghilev loved sponsoring major collaborations, and the Joffrey's Music Center engagement includes three of the starriest. "Afternoon of a Faun" (1912) brought together legendary dancer-choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, Impressionist composer Claude Debussy and Russian painter Leon Bakst for a radically stylized meditation on sexual longing that created a scandal because of its final moment of masturbatory release.
A bigger scandal -- indeed, a riot -- launched Nijinsky's "Rite of Spring" (1913), a two-part portrait of pagan life that featured an epochal score by Igor Stravinsky and decor by Russian painter Nicholas Roerich. Finally, "Parade" (1917) paid whimsical tribute to show business through witty choreography by Leonide Massine, a score by Erik Satie that incorporated realistic sound effects and startling Cubist designs (including living skyscrapers) by Pablo Picasso.
Not seen locally for seven years, the Joffrey Ballet has long specialized in this kind of balletic time travel and will also be dancing a program of works by artistic director Gerald Arpino on June 28 and 29.
-- Lewis Segal