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JoffreyBallet Rain 01 VictoriaJaianiFabriceCalmels Credit HerbertMigdoll

Joffrey Ballet: Cal Performances

(above) Joffrey Ballet “After the Rain” Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll

Visceral and Dramatic Joffrey Ballet

Review by Jo Tomalin

Joffrey Ballet “Age of Innocence”
(Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll)

The Joffrey Ballet, an award winning and renowned American dance company from Chicago performed to sold out performances at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances, on January 26 & 27, 2013. This world-class company presents classical to cutting edge eclectic dance works with excellence, and tours internationally.

On January 26th the program included three ballets: The Age of Innocence, After the Rain, and The Green Table.

For ballet fans the opportunity to see a live performance of The Green Table, the antiwar classic by German dancer and choreographer Kurt Jooss, was reason enough to come, because it is performed so infrequently and is macabrely fascinating. Premiering in 1932 by the Ballets Jooss and subtitled A Dance of Death in Eight Scenes, this is an abstract expressionistic dance-theatre ballet in both choreography and visual design, yet with literal meaning about war. The scenes start with the pedantic diplomats uniformed in tight tailcoats and masked balding heads – the Gentlemen in Black – arguing. Then the scenes continue to the Battle, Farewells, Refugees, Partisan, Brothel, Aftermath and back to the still pedantic still arguing Gentlemen.

The striking discordant to lilting piano music by F.A. Cohen was played live by Mungunchimeg Buriad and Paul James Lewis and complements the craziness of the Diplomats, the athleticism of Death (Dylan Gutierrez), and the emotional and dramatic duo of a soldier leaving a young woman, as he goes off to war.

Joffrey Ballet “Age of Innocence”
Victoria Jaian & Fabrice Calmels
(Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll)

The Age of Innocence opened the program. This is a sinuous and sensual ballet beautifully danced by the company, choreographed by Edwaard Liang. Music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman is at times vibrant, playful, dramatic and soulful. Costume Design by Maria Pinto are dreamy and flowing, all beautifully lit with Lighting Design by Jack Mehler, after Mark Stanley.

Two duos were standouts – the exquisitely danced duo of Jeraldine Mendoza & Mauro Villanueva – she leans and twists as he pulls, she glides, and balances – outstanding and achingly beautiful. Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels powerfully and sublimely danced the second duo, with a high level of precision, flexibility and impressive extensions.

Joffrey Ballet “After the Rain”
Victoria Jaian & Fabrice Calmels
(Photo Credit Herbert Migdoll)

Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain is set to the steely sounding music by Arvo Pärt and a palette of steel grey and flesh Costume Design by Holly Hynes.

Rich, warm tones of lighting and panorama by Mehler, after Stanley,Jo To perfectly coalesced with the wistful music of the last duo – longingly and lovingly danced by Victoria Jaiani & Fabrice Calmels. Wheeldon’s choreography and these dancers transported us to a beautiful space.

The Joffrey Ballet is a superlative company and this program was outstanding in every way. Highly recommended!

For more information:

Joffrey Ballet:

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Next Dance Performances at Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall feature the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, April 23-29, 2013

   Jo Tomalin Reviews Dance, Physical Theatre, and Movement Performances

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D.
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