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Treefrog

Future repertoire

21 posts in this topic

At the Nureyev lecture referenced elsewhere, the Joffrey asked audience members to suggest (on a response form) ballets they would like to see the Joffrey perform.

My knowledge is so limited that I stumbled on this one, although some Robbins did occur to me. What comes to the minds of others, who both know what is out there and what the Joffrey's style is?

And, while we're at it, what do you project for the Joffrey's future when Gerald Arpino leaves the helm? (DISCLAIMER: I'm not intending to suggest that he is planning to anytime soon.)

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I'd like to see Balanchine's Cotillion brought back. The Joffrey had it reconstructed but hasn't done it in a very long time. They also did some Massine works (with Massine coming in to help). That would be nice to have back, since his works are so rarely done. Of course, I'd like to see the Joffrey visit the New York area with these ballets - at the very least D.C. so I can so them again :wink:

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Call me quirky, but I'd like to see them do a Bejart work or an Eifmann...

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I'd like to see them bring back "William Tell pas de six" and try "Concerto Barocco".

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Dale, I'll second that about Cotillon. It and Les Noces are my favorites in their rep. I had hopes it might make it when they announced a Balanchine-centennial program, but no. As for M. Bejart, I wouldn't mind seeing his Sacre again, having seen his company do it once, but I'm not sure JBC has the men for it. And as for "quirky", well, isn't that the Joffrey? "Eclectic-R-Us", or something like that.

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It's probably a minority view, but I felt that as it was staged, Cotillon wasn't making a case to be retained in repertory. The choreography itself was scavenged by Balanchine for later works; La Valse, La Sonnambula - I even saw a moment or two as I recall it (this is a very long time ago now) that found its way into The Nutcracker.

And the performance itself, even with Tina LeBlanc as the lead, didn't have a voice. It was like being in a mausoleum, rather than seeing a live work - but I've felt that way about other Hodson-Archer reconstructions. They may be scholars, but these works need ballet masters to live.

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May I say "all of the above?" The Joffrey rep has always been very eclectic, more so even than ABT, and has reached to the edges of the dance world to include works that other more mainstream ballet companies would shun. I'd love to see them bring back their Ballet Russe works (the Fokine and the Massine, as well as the Nijinsky), revive their Jooss ballets and their Tharp works, polish up their Ashton, and perhaps look to someone like Mark Morris for new work, as they did to Tharp previously.

And I'd really like to see them come back to Seattle!

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Perhaps I should have added that I didn't want to see ABT or NYCB do Bejart or Eifmann, but with Joffrey's old affinity for pop(?), it might be a possible fit? Or have the companies jostled their identies since I had the chance to see them... now ABT is more like the Joffrey, NYCB is more like ABT was, and Joffrey is ... well not like the old NYCB but what? Are there any Cuban choreographers whose work Joffrey should feature? For a while there, it seemed like Joffrey was a home for Cubans.

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This raises a question about which I've wondered for a while. Does the current Joffrey resemble the old Joffrey in style, choreography, repertoire? I keep hearing about eclecticism and youth and upstartness. They don't seem much younger to me than other companies (who all seem to hire 16-20 year olds). Is there a vibe that I'm missing? And, if it is still there, is (was) it philosophical or a virtue born of economic necessity? They surely aren't the company that toured around in a minibus or whatever. What are they?

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This raises a question about which I've wondered for a while.  Does the current Joffrey resemble the old Joffrey in style, choreography, repertoire?  I keep hearing about eclecticism and youth and upstartness.  They don't seem much younger to me than other companies (who all seem to hire 16-20 year olds).  Is there a vibe that I'm missing?  And, if it is still there, is (was) it philosophical or a virtue born of economic necessity?  They surely aren't the company that toured around in a minibus or whatever.  What are they?

Well, at the very beginning they were the company that toured in a station wagon. Cunningham was the minibus.

But anecdotes aside, this is an excellent question. For many years, the Joffrey held a particular position, both on its own and in relationship to other NY ballet companies. NYCB was Balanchine, ABT was a mix of classical and American works with a procession of guest artists, the Feld company was, well, the Feld company, and Joffrey was all the other stuff. Robert Joffrey took the Ballet Russe as a model, in several different ways, trying to act as a conservator of that material and looking for innovation in choreography. He was committed to variety in the repertory, including a mix of old and new, but it's hard to know how he might apply that aesthetic today, when other companies have taken on so many of those characteristics.

In the past, they actively collected works from new ballet choreographers, works from the historic rep that were out of favor with other groups, works from artists outside of ballet. I think, if you were to apply those criteria to repertory building today, you'd be looking again to the Ballet Russe rep (especially the Massine and Nijinska works), to people like Kylian and Forsythe (who's a Joffrey alum) and to people like Trisha Brown or Stephen Petronio (work that can have a strong "dancey" base but has a distinct non-ballet style). But unlike times past, these choices would not necessarily make the company unique -- these are programming strategies that served the Joffrey well enough that they have been adopted by several other groups.

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Perhaps I should have added that I didn't want to see ABT or NYCB do Bejart or Eifmann, but with Joffrey's old affinity for pop(?), it might be a possible fit?  ...  Are there any Cuban choreographers whose work Joffrey should feature?  For a while there, it seemed like Joffrey was a home for Cubans.

Actually, I think they might be a good candidate for some Bejart -- maybe some of the earlier, more dance-specific work.

And the Alonso "Carmen" might be an interesting fit as well.

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Alonso's Carmen might be a little too current. But maybe Petit's.... As a matter of fact, it might not be a bad idea for them to revive his "Les Forains" for the American audience. And back to the source, why not revive "Remembrances" and "Gamelan"?

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And back to the source, why not revive "Remembrances" and "Gamelan"?

Did Gamelan use a live gamelan?

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Well, yes, in a way. The music was by Lou Harrison, who incorporated a gamelan into the music Joffrey used. I can't recall which one it was, right off the top of my head, but Harrison wrote several pieces for gamelan and western orchestra. Was it his "Concertino"?

(OK, I checked: It was his Suite for Violin, Piano, and Small Orchestra, which incorporated a few Harry Partch-like instruments and effects.)

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What luck! There's a gamelan at the University of Chicago!

Thanks to all, and especially to sandik for providing a good synopsis of the context.

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Looks as though I'm not the only one wondering about the Joffrey's future. Sid Smith in the Chicago Tribune writes about the Joffrey after Arpino.

. . . rumors have been circulating in the dance community that there is a move on the part of his board of directors to oust Arpino in the near future.

Arpino and the troupe's response is unequivocal: The Joffrey Ballet here has the rights to all Arpino and Joffrey ballets "in perpetuity," and there is no move to retire Arpino, who, in fact, has a contract through 2007 and plans to be on hand for the troupe's 50th anniversary celebration, beginning in 2006. . .

And there is a plan for succession, strengthened by key promotions last summer, which the company says may be the source of the current rumors. . .

As for the succession plans here, last summer the company promoted two longtime ballet masters (and former dancers), Adam Sklute and Cameron Basden, to the newly created positions of assistant artistic directors. Still in place and crucial to the organization's future are two additional ballet masters, Mark Goldweber and Charthel Arthur. The four embody the notion of almost venerable continuity. All four worked under Joffrey himself, before his 1988 death, and three of them -- Sklute, Basden and Goldweber -- began as young dancers with the Joffrey II, the troupe's apprentice company.

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Leigh, thanks. On reflection while reading your post, I realized the that the Cotillon I wanted and hoped for this time around is one a ballet master has breathed life into, one I probably can't have.

I hadn't remembered that what I saw in 1990 was a Hodson-Archer prodution (Read your program, Jack!) and blamed the cast rather than their preparation for the fizzled "Hand of Fate" pas de deux and the remoteness (rather than presence) of much of the rest, more lively though that seemed than the H-A Sacre. (Liveliness related, perhaps to the recognisability of Balanchine's steps? And as he would say, did say, "Steps? Steps are what?" We have here a case in point, I think.)

So maybe it's best forgotten, if in sorrow...

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Or maybe waiting to be reawoken :wink: I just feel that revivals need to be approached with scholarly responsibility, but as a theatrical event. Otherwise everyone chalks it up to "historical interest" and the ballet is as dead as ever because nobody made a case for its revival.

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Or maybe waiting to be reawoken

What an inspiring metaphor and a fascinating concept! But how? As the years roll by, doesn't the possibility of this reawakening eventually disappear for one ballet after another? Doesn't the project we're discussing mean that time is up for Cotillon already, for example?

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Again, call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I believe in both ballet and ballerina parthenogenesis. It's happened with earlier revivals of the Bournonville works (the chain was never utterly broken though) and in the same way, every now and again a dancer comes along way after a choreographer's death who dances like s/he knew the choreographer personally.

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