At rehearsal a week before the debut of the Joffrey Ballet's latest production in Chicago, dancer Yoshihisa Arai sat on the ground in the back of the rehearsal space with his legs in a split, stretching and checking his smartphone.

He had been away from the stage for nearly six months after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his right foot while landing during rehearsal last August, but he seemed calm amid the chaos around him.

At the front of the room, members of the company moved energetically through one of the four pieces that make up the "Modern Masters" production, a sampling of modern and contemporary works. Understudies mirrored the movements of the leads.