Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Joffrey Ballet


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 casloan

casloan

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 59 posts

Posted 21 April 2002 - 06:31 PM

This past week, the first of the Joffrey Ballet's spring programs included Gerald Arpino's "Birthday Variations." Always a frothy diversion, it was beautifully danced by all. I especially appreciated Variation No. 6 with Heather Aagard's astonishing fouettes with their constantly changing spot.

David Parsons' ingenious "Caught" is a perennial crowd pleaser, as the strobe-lit solo dancer seems to literally walk on air. Davis Robertson or Calvin Kitten, two of the company's best men, often dance this, but the performance this afternoon featured Taryn Kaschock. I had seen her do the role once before. It's amazing how she manages to make this clearly exhausting piece look easy.

The world premiere of Davis Robertson's "Strange Prisoners" had some interesting choreographic ideas, particularly in the opening sequence where three dancers interact as shadows. I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.

The much-anticipated revival, after 26 years, of Robert Joffrey's "Astarte" left me wondering what I had previously seen in it. The dancers, Maia Wilkins and Davis Robertson, are ideally suited to their roles as fire-and-ice goddess and enthralled mortal -- with perfect bodies and the sheer strength and athleticism needed for many moments of the work. But the huge-screen film images of the dancers and the strobe lights no longer worked for me, and there were too many moments when I longed for less posing (no matter how difficult it might be) and more dancing.

This week's program, which I'll see next Sunday afternoon, includes Gerald Arpino's delightful "Kettentanz," Antony Tudor's "Jardin aux Lilas" and Agnes de Mille's "Rodeo."

#2 glebb

glebb

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 807 posts

Posted 22 April 2002 - 04:15 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by casloan
[B]
David Parsons' ingenious "Caught" is a perennial crowd pleaser, as the strobe-lit solo dancer seems to literally walk on air. Davis Robertson or Calvin Kitten, two of the company's best men, often dance this, but the performance this afternoon featured Taryn Kaschock. I had seen her do the role once before. It's amazing how she manages to make this clearly exhausting piece look easy.


Robertson and Kaschock performed CAUGHT before this season.

Calvin Kitten was new to the role this time and did an amazing job. Audience response was huge! :)

#3 casloan

casloan

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 59 posts

Posted 22 April 2002 - 01:27 PM

glebb --

Thanks for the clarification. I envy the experience you had. I had seen Robertson dance the role, and I thought that I had just managed to miss Kitten before. I'm really sorry not to have witnessed his debut in the role this week, and I'm sure the audience's reaction was well deserved. He's my favorite Joffrey dancer.

#4 Treefrog

Treefrog

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 639 posts

Posted 22 April 2002 - 02:00 PM

CAUGHT was fabulous! We, too, saw Taryn Kashock, and were mesmerized by the way the strobe caught her in mid-air, every time. Timing has to be perfect in this piece, and it was. (If you don't know this piece, the dancer starts out moving around the stage from one spotlight to another. Eventually, the stage goes black, and then is lit by a flashing strobe. The effect is to catch the dancer in stop-action, sort of like a flickering old-time movie or flip book.) Our party (two adults, two kids) agreed that this one piece was worth the price of admission.

Which was good, because the others left us slightly underwhelmed. No, that's not quite right. We enjoyed STRANGE PRISONERS, with Suzanne Lopez, Sam Franke, and Patrick Simonello as the three leads. Simonello wowed us more than the others. The shadow effect was pretty cool, especially the opening poses in which the shadows of the three dancers are superimposed -- one doesn't even know the other two dancers are there until multiple sets of arms emerge in different poses. Sometimes, the technical effects were distracting, as when I wondered how a shadow could get larger and larger as the dancer approached the screen, then simply disappear as s/he apparently dived into the screen!

ASTARTE didn't work for us. It certainly isn't the shocker it was when it first opened, although it is explicit enough that I wanted to tell my 14-year-old that no, that's not what it's REALLY like. The film images were distracting; maybe they worked better before audiences became accustomed to seeing real-time video accompany live action events (at a sports event, for example). I kept checking the video and comparing it to what was happening on stage, and found it unsettling that the two didn't match. "Did they do that already? Are they going to do that?" I wondered. It was not a good sign that I started thinking about soccer line-ups for the weekend's game in the middle of the piece. The fault was not the dancers' (Trinity Hamilton and Domingo Rubio), but the concept. Incidentally, this was the only piece danced to live music, provided by Platinum Lynx, billed as "The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago Band." (Side note: is it a measure of inflation that the current band is Platinum Lynx, while the original score was composed by Chrome Syrcus?) We did appreciate the band's apparently spontaneous diversion into "White Rabbit" during the intermission. It seemed highly appropriate, given that during it's down-and-out days the Auditorium Theatre -- now brilliantly restored to it's turn-of-the-century opulence -- was Chicago's premiere rock venue.

BIRTHDAY VARIATIONS was, frankly, a little boring. I agree that Variation #6, with Heather Aagard, was the winner of the lot. My daughter observed that the piece didn't fit under the "Multimedia Magic" umbrella, as it featured no special technological effects.

We are looking forward to this week's presentation of "Masterworks". Thanks to all of you who posted about this program when it was presented in DC earlier this year. (Look for this thread on the Joffrey Ballet part of the board.)

#5 Cliff

Cliff

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 161 posts

Posted 22 April 2002 - 10:22 PM

Strange Prisoners was an ambitious attempt at presenting the abstract concept of Plato's cave allegory. A good effort despite falling short.

The strobe effect of Caught was interesting. On a technological note, one way to ease the strict timing requirements is to sync the strobe to the dancer using sensors. There is potential in strobe because it enables - among other things - the illusion that a dancer is gliding though the air. This continues the tradition of pointe shoes in elevating and defying gravity.

Mutimedia was new when Astarte premiered back in 1967. Now it's special effects looked old. I was expecting something more mind-blowing and psychedelic. Surprisingly, Astarte was mostly adagio dancing.

My favorite was the multimedia-impaired Birthday Variations. Just beautiful ballet.

Cliff

#6 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 23 April 2002 - 08:10 AM

I hope this isn't like giving away a magician's secret (or even worse, that I'm in fact wrong; I've never danced the work) but doesn't the dancer in Caught control the strobe lighting through some sort of hand-held device? I think that's why he or she is always caught in the air.

#7 Treefrog

Treefrog

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 639 posts

Posted 23 April 2002 - 09:26 AM

Awwwww -- say it ain't so!

Well, think of it this way: I can still admire Kashock's pinpoint timing because the flashes were so regular I imagined they were controlled by a timer.

#8 casloan

casloan

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 59 posts

Posted 23 April 2002 - 01:29 PM

Leigh -- I'm quite sure you're right. I know I've read somewhere (probably in a review) that the dancer controls the strobe. Otherwise, the timing, which is (of course) critical to the illusion, could never be right.

#9 glebb

glebb

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 807 posts

Posted 23 April 2002 - 05:13 PM

The strobe is controlled by the dancer.

This might make it easier for the stage manager, but it is quite a challenge for the performer.

Along side the incredible stamina it takes to execute a Parson's work, the coordination of working the strobe makes it doubly hard.

The dancer is already exhausted when he or she finds the strobe (in the dark).

The natural instinct is to press the button at the peak of the movement. Wrong! The dancer has to rehearse the timing a lot to get the feeling necessary to click the strobe after the peak of the movement. For some reason the image is better seen by the audience when the dancer feels he or she is coming out of the movement.

#10 Cliff

Cliff

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 161 posts

Posted 23 April 2002 - 10:23 PM

Originally posted by glebb
The strobe is controlled by the dancer.  

This might make it easier for the stage manager, but it is quite a challenge for the performer.

Along side the incredible stamina it takes to execute a Parson's work, the coordination of working the strobe makes it doubly hard.  

The dancer is already exhausted when he or she finds the strobe (in the dark).  


All the more reason to apply technology and automate the strobe. Why have a human do something that a machine can do better? Attaching a signaling element to the dancer's costume plus an offstage detector would enable precise determination of the dancer's position.

Cliff

#11 glebb

glebb

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 807 posts

Posted 25 April 2002 - 05:09 AM

Originally posted by Cliff


All the more reason to apply technology and automate the strobe. Why have a human do something that a machine can do better? Attaching a signaling element to the dancer's costume plus an offstage detector would enable precise determination of the dancer's position.  

Cliff


Will you donate this technology, Cliff? :)

#12 glebb

glebb

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 807 posts

Posted 27 April 2002 - 06:55 AM

Treefrog:

Your daughter's observation about 'Birthday Variations' was correct. No multimedia effects.

After 911, Mr. Arpino decided to cancel 'The Clowns' due to it's destruction of humanity theme.

He wanted to give the Joffrey audience something light and colorful.

I do think that the way the Joffrey dancers made the fiendishly hard choreography look easy was the special effect.

:)

#13 Guest_CyberDancer_*

Guest_CyberDancer_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 30 August 2002 - 07:04 AM

a downside to the birthday variations --

you could hear the bourrees in the balcony

most distracting

#14 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 30 August 2002 - 07:54 AM

So complain to the management of the theater for having an acoustically overlively house!

#15 tigger

tigger

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 54 posts

Posted 30 August 2002 - 11:37 AM

"Caught" sounds like a fascinating piece! Is there a video of it somewhere (seeing as Chicago is kind of far ;) )?


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):