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Light Rainspring 2007 program


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#1 Treefrog

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 05:40 PM

The Joffrey has taken up a fairly predictable scheduling system. In the fall, we get a full-length story ballet. In the winter, we get revivals and historic works. In the spring, we get Joffrey Lite.

Let's put it this way: the only buns -- and nearly the only pointe shoes -- in the whole program were in Light Rain. (Okay, there were some very attractive buns in Untitled, in which the two men wore only dance belts, but that's different.)

We had: two solo dances on swings/trapeze, one boxing match between lovers, one strobe-lit stop-motion piece, an Alice-in-Wonderland wannabe with growing and shrinking women, and a shimmering ensemble piece to pulsating Indian-flavored jazz (my husband's description).

We were treated to possibly the most egregious, inappropriate bit of applause I've ever had the misfortune to witness -- an enthusiastic bout of clapping for a particularly athletic move in the middle of the the haunting, lyrical White Widow that totally ruined the mood. I'm beginning to reevaluate the wisdom of attracting new audiences to the ballet, if this is the result.

I enjoyed the dancing, but felt totally unsatisfied with the program.

#2 motwins8391

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 08:38 PM

The Joffrey has taken up a fairly predictable scheduling system. In the fall, we get a full-length story ballet. In the winter, we get revivals and historic works. In the spring, we get Joffrey Lite.

I enjoyed the dancing, but felt totally unsatisfied with the program.


This scheduling methodology suits me fine! I found that the program -- vibrant, boundless, playful (and downright sexy) -- was a perfect fit for an idyllic spring afternoon, that is, if it has to be spent inside. For me, it was worth this sacrifice. "Joffrey Lite", arguably yes. But definitely not "Joffrey Trite". While the program is hardly academic or heavy, I found plenty to engage my mind and spirit (without forcing me to actually brood on a gorgeous day).

I was quite moved by "Untitled", a piece which so clearly captures the visceral aspects and unrelenting demands of motherhood, and demonstrates how tenuous a woman's relationship to her body becomes once she's caught up in the crosswinds of sexuality and fertility. Yet the female will is strong -- and female companionship is a helpful thing. (This would be a great piece to see and appreciate on Mother's Day!) Maia Wilkins and Suzanne Lopez were superb. Ms. Wilkins' expressive body language, in particular, could probably be read from the rear of the balcony.

There WAS lots of "air time" involved, but I thought "Dance for Yal" (Love unleashed!!) and "White Widow" (spinning in isolation) appropriate and illustrative "bookends" to the cautionary tale of "Untitled".

For some reason "Valentine" tends to go on a wee bit past my attention span (maybe I'm having trouble following how the music and the musician, more of a distraction to me, fit in. I welcome other's insights here!). But I have no trouble appreciating Julianne Kepley and Fabrice Calmels in action. [What a huge loss it will be for the Joffrey, if Ms. Kepley is indeed leaving for SF Ballet, as reported in the Tribune].

It's truly delightful to see one-time Joffrey apprentices blossom and grow. This year's programing gave many glimpses of that. A standout for me is John Gluckman, who was so commanding in "Caught". This young man is a smart and marvelous actor who I can always count on to bring some "edge", intensity, and downright unpredictability to his role. And his athletic dancing just keeps getting more refined. (I'm keeping my eye on Mauro Villanueva too. Other particularly interesting dancers and rising stars, in my opinion, are Allison Walsh, Erica Lynette Edwards, Kathleen Thielhelm and Aaron Rogers).

And finally, "Light Rain" is such an alluring piece. Valerie Robin moves, draws, and commands like the queen of the ant hill! There were some peppy male solos too. There's something quite primal going on here; maybe "Light Rain" is a "feel good" "Rite of Spring".

If there was anything amiss in the program for me, it was that the number of "solo" pieces dictated a cut back in the number of dancers who appeared. Many of the Joffrey corps were "benched". I guess we just wait for next season?

#3 Treefrog

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 06:16 AM

Sounds like a good case of "one man's meat is another one's poison". I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

I am particularly interested to hear how you were moved by Untitled. Not only was I not moved in the least, I couldn't even get a particularly good handle on what the whole thing was about. Perhaps I am a bit dense. My attention was drawn solely by the trickery and balance/counterbalance aspects. (For those who don't know this piece, as I didn't before seeing it: it's Pilobolus choreography in which two women are supported by men hidden under their long Victorian garden dresses. The women shrink and grow as they interact with each other and two suitors. There's a fair bit of comedic aspect to it.) This is now raising an interesting question in my mind: when does gimmickry/gadgetry enhance choreography or enable a dance to transcend ordinary bounds; when does it thrill in its own right; and when is it simply distracting?

I agree with you entirely that Valentine goes on too long, but agree also that if we are to lose Julianne Kepley :mad: :thumbsup: it was nice to have such a long farewell glimpse of her. She and Calmels did play off nicely against each other.

Caught is one of those pieces that I think works beautifully the first time you see it, and not so much after that. This was my second viewing, and I was really looking forward to it. I felt disappointed. I didn't think the timing worked as well this time as the first time I saw it (with Taryn Kaschock). At times the poses looked random, rather than the seamless stop-action they are meant to be.

It is wonderful to see the former apprentices grow up into the company, isn't it? I very much like the verve of Erica Lynette Edwards too, and it's nice to see her getting increasing important roles (she performed the solo Dance for Yal on Sunday). Speaking of Dance for Yal, what an impressive show of upper body strength! This dance has the woman hanging by one arm from a trapeze for a good 30-40 seconds, all the while dancing with the rest of her body.

#4 motwins8391

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 08:39 PM

Caught is one of those pieces that I think works beautifully the first time you see it, and not so much after that. This was my second viewing, and I was really looking forward to it. I felt disappointed. I didn't think the timing worked as well this time as the first time I saw it (with Taryn Kaschock). At times the poses looked random, rather than the seamless stop-action they are meant to be.


Hmm. I didn't pick up any marked difference since my last viewing -- I actually had several deja vu-type flashbacks of Davis Robertson, who performed it several years ago. (Despite the fact that Robertson and Gluckman are different body-types, I think they have a similar approach to the solo). At any rate, the first time I saw "Caught" I could only think, "Wow! That's amazing how he can time his leaps to the strobe light like that!" I was wiser when I saw them perform it a couple of years later, having read that it's the DANCER who holds the switch for the strobe. It's still a remarkable feat, and while watching it Sunday I found myself conjecturing how Gluckman was moving in the darkness. Obviously, he was moving deftly and mightily. What a cardio-workout (does the audience have any idea?)!

By the way, I miss Taryn Kaschock to this day! That lady had real spunk!

I am particularly interested to hear how you were moved by Untitled.


It may have just been a personal reaction, but seeing how the themes of sexuality, childbirth, and motherhood were translated into the dance somehow struck me to the core. I saw these young ladies -- Victorian ladies at that -- dealing with bodies that were suddenly alien to them, while putting on airs of being in complete control. (And the fact that they were Victorian emphasized the naivete/innocence). There was awkwardness, uncertainty, even denial. How were they to adjust? When they "absorbed" those testosterone-laden suitors, they found their feet going in the opposite direction! Would life ever return to normal? Ultimately they managed to adapt and carry on, but with sacrifice, using their own inner strength (and possibly some old-fashioned female camaraderie).


My attention was drawn solely by the trickery and balance/counterbalance aspects. This is now raising an interesting question in my mind: when does gimmickry/gadgetry enhance choreography or enable a dance to transcend ordinary bounds; when does it thrill in its own right; and when is it simply distracting?

I think that gimmicks/gadgets can be more of a distraction. Fortunately for me, the fact that I attended a dress rehearsal helped me get past the distraction so I could focus on the choreography and dancing during the actual performance. So in terms of reacting as a first-time audience member, I'm not a fair judge.

And I would not be happy if all Joffrey programs were along this vein. I do feel cheated when I don't get a good dose of pure dance -- and ballet at that. (For instance, I was glad to see the "Green Table". The Joffrey dancers are tremendous actors and the piece was timely. But coming at the end of a program featuring the fabulous, dynamic and polished dancing in "Les Presages", I left the theater feeling let down. I wish "Les P" had ended the program!).

Anyway, "Light Rain" was a fun program, if a little on the short side, and I do appreciate the breadth of the Joffrey's repertoire. (Maybe there should be a discussion on how "Giselle" snuck in there. Has Joffrey ever done a full-length 19th century ballet, other than "Nutcracker"? Are they going for marketability?)


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