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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Midsummer Night's Dream

Derrick Agnoletti, Anna von Hausswolff, and the ensemble of Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Joffrey Ballet.

May 8–18, 2024
Gustav Adolfs torg 2, 111 52 Stockholm, Sweden

Alexander Ekman’s Midsummer Night’s Dream take its cue not from Shakespeare but from what inspired the playwright: a summer solstice infused, as folk once believed, with pagan magic and mischief. In Ekman’s native Sweden, the holiday of Midsommer is as popular as Christmas, though more fun. Decked out in their wild-flower crowns, Swedes retreat to the countryside to carouse with kin until dawn. The annual fête suits Ekman’s methods—large choral casts, fierce precision, and the absurdist manipulation of outlandish props. The 2015 ballet has proven a big hit in Sweden, and also in Illinois. (It will be reprised in both locales this month.) The globally recognized 40-year-old choreographer worked closely with his regular collaborator, composer Mikael Karlsson, to fashion a score that would propel us through the episodic and surreal spectacle. An onstage chanteuse narrates via song. —Apollinaire Scherr