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Arpino Program and his choreography


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The last time I saw the Joffrey was more years ago than I'll admit, and well before I started taking ballet. I had seen Gerald Arpino's choreography then, but don't remember it all that well. I was struck by three, well I might call them 'choreographic signatures' last evening, and wondered if my perception was accurate. It seemed to me that Arpino constantly used long, extended arms with the hands up, palms facing outward. Is this something he does alot? Had the same question about the 'quivering extremities' -- mostly hands -- which seemed to show up in everything and which open Light Rain . And finally, he seems to almost constantly shape his patterns on the floor by having his dancers run in, out and around. Again, is this pervasive?

I realize I'm probably the lone numb nut who chose the Arpino program over the Diaghilev, but I had seen Light Rain years ago, remembered loving it and wanted to see it again. I was glad to know my memory did not deceive me, I still enjoyed it very much.

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Joffrey Ballet of Chicago; Sunday afternoon, June 30; Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

I haven’t seen Joffrey for ages and it was nice to catch up with them.

The all-Arpino program began with “Suite Saint-Saens”. Nice enjoyable piece; very nice choreography for the corps as they filled the stage with dance. The Serenade pas de trois has a man (Sam Franke) partnering 2 women (Karthleen Thielheim and Valerie Robin) and the women dance in mirror image of each other. When done correctly (they had a few lapses) it is extremely effective. It would have been better had both women been wearing seamless tights rather than one with seams and the other without!

Next came “I/DNA”. Deborah Dawn danced the role of the Mother and was the only dancer I recognized from the last time I saw the company. Tony Montalvo danced the roll of The Man as a Child and was excellent. That being said I’ll end with this….if you want to see a mother watching her innocent son being executed in an electric chair then this baby is for you!

“L’Air D’Esprit” followed, a tribute to Olga Spessivtzeva with Suzanne Lopez and Willy Shives. Very pretty, very classical, trying to be Giselle-ish. I’ll split hairs and say that this short, healthy dancer did not look like Spessivtzeva.

Years ago Alexandra had a Thread in which we were to list ballets we were embarrassed to admit we loved. I joined Alexandra in choosing “Carmen”; there’s an Eliot Feld ballet about Americana and cheerleaders, etc.; and there’s the final selection of today’s program, “Light Rain”. This thing is pure sleeze but I’m a sucker for the pas de deuxs; love ‘em. In the lead were Trinity Hamilton and Sam Franke. You’ve got to have a perfect body and great legs to dance the female lead, and Trinity fills the bill. No room for hyper extended knees, or a strange turn-out, or wishy-washy feet; and any errant bulge will stand out like a mountain in those tighter than tight tights. Lordy! Of course it brought the house down.

Pleiades, you're not a lone dumb (numb?) nut; I'm a dumb nut too.


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Actually, I did mean "numbnut" which is an expression I picked up somewhere at some point and have absolutely no clue how to spell.

Major Mel, thank you so much for your confirmation -- it gives me some confidence that I'm not altogether insane. I didn't notice the battements at the time, but as I put the evening back together in my memory I realize how many of them there were!

It was an interesting evening for me -- the person I was with thoroughly enjoyed the evening, while as I said to a friend: "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." I now look at ballet totally differently, some of it for the better, yet some of it makes me perhaps too critical. I enjoyed the evening, but found myself looking at the performance altogether differently than I ever have before.

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