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Joffrey Ballet
Lift your partner, y'all.
Cheryl Mann

Can you still call it ballet if the dancers are in cowboy boots?

Chicago?s Joffrey Ballet intends to prove it with The Man in Black, a 22-minute piece on its ?Unique Voices? program set to the strains of Johnny Cash?s singular, grainy voice.

With three male dancers and one female one in boots and subtle country-western costumes, the number is a contemplative romp with simple steps inspired by the moves you might expect in a honky-tonk bar.

The music includes Cash?s covers of classics like John Lennon and Paul McCartney?s ?In My Life,? Trent Reznor?s ?Hurt? and Bruce Springsteen?s ?Further On (Up the Road).? ??

And as for those boots? Ballet, it turns out, originated in the courts of Europe with dancers wearing generously heeled shoes not too far off from the cowboy soles of today. Who knew?

February 11 through 22; tickets $32 to $155; Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy.; 800-982-2787 or

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