Jamie-Clare Flaherty, Greg Cameron, Melissa Trandel
Jamie Clare Flaherty, the director of strategic initiatives for the Obama Foundation and Melissa Trandel as co-chairs of the Joffrey Ballet’s Giselle luncheon, welcomed over 300 guests to the elegant luncheon held at the Loews Hotel Chicago’s Sullivan Ballroom on October 2. The luncheon was to celebrate and get a sneak peek of the much-anticipated Joffrey premiere of Giselle which opens October 18.
Guests began the day with a champagne reception on the Loews outdoor terrace before they were ushered down to the Sullivan ballroom. Joffrey Ballet’s Executive Director Greg Cameron welcomed guests and the two co-chairs, both members of the Women’s Board, acknowledged the luncheon sponsors including Athene, Mesirow Financial and bag pull host J McLaughlin. The Joffrey Ballet’s Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, who is celebrating 10 years with the company, led the conversation portion of the day, first with Academy student Jose Pablo Castro Cuevas, this year’s recipient of the Richard Ellis and Christine Du Boulay Ellis merit scholarship, who actually ended moving to Chicago at the age of 14 after being a summer scholarship recipient.
The panel discussion between Ashley Wheater, Lola de Ávila’s, Giselle Ballet Master and Stager, as well as Joffrey Artists performing the role of Giselle, Christine Rocas and Amanda Assucena, concluded the luncheon. Rocas talked about her growth since having played the role of Giselle years ago as well exploring the heartbreaking story of Giselle and why it continues to resonate with ballerinas and dance enthusiasts.
Giselle: A sweeping tale of passion beyond the grave, de Ávila’s visionary Giselle elevates one of the greatest Romantic ballets to new heights. When a young peasant girl discovers her lover is betrothed to another, she dies of grief, only to be enlisted by the vengeful Wilis, a ghostly army of maidens who haunt the forests, dancing to death any male mortal who crosses their path. When her beloved wanders into their grasp, Giselle carries out the ultimate act of love to free him from his fate. An ethereal descent into madness, desire, and sublime beauty that will leave you breathless.
The Joffrey Ballet’s production of Giselle, staged by Lola de Ávila, will run from October 18-29.
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photo credit: Steve Becker