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casloan

Joffrey at home

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As many who saw the Joffrey elsewhere or at home in

Chicago already know, their second program this season was a delight.

"Kettetanz" begins as a deceptively "simple" set of German dances and quickly turns into an incredible tour-de-force. I saw Maia Wilkins, Taryn Kaschock, Calvin Kitten and many others on Sunday afternoon. I have never seen it danced better -- and I have seen it many times before, both recently and long ago.

Antony Tudor's "Lilac Garden" was beautifully executed; it is simply not my cup of tea today.

The "Ginger Rogers" gowns are gorgeous, as is Maia Wilkins.

"Rodeo" -- with Taryn Kaschock and Willy Shives --

is the best performance I can recall (and I have seen many with the Joffrey and ABT).

The democratic Joffrey invited everyone to their end-of-season bash at a good, local Italian restaurant. The price was reasonable, the food, excellent. And, with over 200 guests, it was a great success. I had the opportunity to see many of the dancers (in their street clothes) at close hand. And, I had the great good fortune to be seated at the same table with two of the essential staff (a ballet mistress and master, both of whom I had seen perform often, years ago). The conversation was a pleasure.

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Yes, I agree, it was a delight! I saw the same performance as Casloan, but I am a ballet newbie and this was the first time I'd seen any of these pieces.

"Kettentanz" was beautiful. Casloan is right, the simplicity of the opening "Gitana galop" belies what is to come. Valerie Robin turned in a stunning solo, the essential move of which I can't possibly describe as I don't know the right terminology. It was a sort of backward bourée, seemingly propelled by these gorgeous, impossibly graceful arm motions. She truly floated. I also enjoyed seeing Calvin Kitten and Masayushi Onuki dancing side by side; I'd seen both as Fritz/Snow Prince, but it was fun to compare their jumps.

Lilac Garden paired edgy staging with edgy music. From the opening tableaux depicting Caroline and her fiancé staring off in different directions, everything felt formal and distant. Even the rendezvous between Caroline and her lover lacked passion. It was a curious juxtaposition -- the movements all were the "right" ones to indicate longing, but the underlying emotion was missing. Since this feeling permeated the performance, I don't think it was just sub-par acting ability. It seemed more like a comment on Victorian habits and mores. It all felt a little Edward Gorey-ish.

Rodeo was wonderful, as laid back and folksy as Lilac Garden was distant and formal. Taryn Kashock played the Cowgirl. She's tiny, but she exuded spunk -- until the cowhands leave her behind, when she exuded first annoyance, and then despair. She recouped admirably at the dance, coming into her own as partner to the Champion Roper (Willy Shives, whose tap dancing captured her, and our, attention). The entire company was fresh and full of energy, and just plain looked as if they were having a great time dancing!

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Thank you, treefrog, for your comments about last Sunday's Joffrey performance. They're especially remarkable because they're so articulate and on-target -- yet they come from a self-described "newbie" at the ballet.

Claudia

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Well, thank you, Claudia! I do assure you, I am a newbie. If you don't count the 10 or so times I've seen Nutcracker (all in the last four years!), I've been to the ballet maybe 15 times in my whole life.

So, I suppose it's a little presumptuous of me to write reviews. But I figure I can represent the Great Masses. I couldn't for the life of me tell you if Dancer A was technically proficient. I just know what takes my breath away.

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Treefrog -- what takes your breath away is probably also what everyone else who is "in the know" is responding to. So, do keep telling us about your experience!

Claudia

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