Last night the Joffrey offered a special treat to season subscribers: a lecture on Nureyev, in preparation for their upcoming fall performance. (The performance includes Petroushka, Laurencia Pas de Six -- or Pas d'Action, if I was hearing correctly -- and a reprise of Apollo, which they performed at Ravinia for their Balanchine homage).
Assistant Artistic Directors Adam Sklute and Cameron Basden were the evening's hosts and presenters. Against a slide show of cameos, snapshots, and performance poses of Nureyev, they gave us a biography of his life. Emphasized throughout was Nureyev's iconoclasm, his pure love of dance and movement, his efforts always to break out of existing idioms and find something more. The stressed in particular how Nureyev broke out of the danseur noble mold to become an attraction, a focus, in his own right, and not just a presenter or backdrop for the ladies. Nureyev's work with the Joffrey of yore was also discussed.
The evening featured a special visit from Anna-Marie Holmes, who told anecdotes and enlightened us from her personal perspective. Ballet mistress Charthel Arthur also contributed a few reminiscences.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening were some video clips of Nureyev in Le Corsaire, L'Apres-midi du Faun, Spectre de la Rose, and Petroushka. This last was wonderfully filmed, and highlighted Nureyev's expressive face (as well as, of course, his expressive dancing and impeccable body control). Although it certainly wetted my whistle for next month's performance, the clip set a particularly high bar for Joffrey dancer John Gluckman to attempt. I'm not sure this was what the company had in mind by showing it to us.
Sklute (or Basden) mentioned that more such programs might be in the offing. I certainly hope so. The turnout was more than respectable -- a pretty-much full house of about 250 people, mostly grey-haired. This is a great way to gin up interest in the program, as well as to educate the audience.
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