Tonight's program, which will be reprised through October 30, features Frederick Ashton's The Dream, set to Mendelssohn's score for A Midsummer Night's Dream; Jir‹ Kylišn's Return to a Strange Land; and artistic director Gerald Arpino's Celebration, which was created to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary and has not been performed since 1981.
The company's first season was in 1956, when Arpino took six dancers on the road in a borrowed station wagon and U-Haul truck, while co-founder Robert Joffrey, who died in 1988, stayed home to oversee the school.
The company moved from New York, where it was for many years the resident company at New York City Center, to Chicago in 1995.
The 50th-anniversary celebration features two years of performances, including the 2006-07 seasons and a gala celebration in the summer of 2006. Details of the gala and the 2006-07 season have not yet been released.
John Cranko's full-length Romeo and Juliet, set to Prokofiev's score, will comprise this season's winter program, and the company's own Victorian-themed Nutcracker, choreographed by Joffrey and Arpino, will occupy its usual holiday spot.
The spring program, called Cool Vibrations, features Twyla Tharp's Deuce Coupe and Laura Dean's Sometimes It Snows in April (set to music by Prince), along with a world-premiere work by Donald Byrd.
Music for the entire season will be provided by the Chicago Sinfonietta, conducted by Joffrey music director Leslie B. Dunner.