The Joffrey Ballet's 2012-2013 season launches this fall with a mixed repertory program titled "Human Landscapes," featuring three choreographers exploring principles of the human spirit through dance. The Joffrey brings James Kudelka's critically acclaimed Pretty BALLET back to the stage along with Ji?í Kylián's rarely seen work Forgotten Land. A highlight of the season is the ground-breaking anti-war ballet The Green Table, choreographed by Kurt Jooss in the aftermath of World War I. The "Human Landscapes" program is presented in 10 performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, October 17 – 28, 2012.
"The artists whose work we present this season hold a special place in Joffrey history," noted Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director. "Not only is The Green Table recognized as one of the most important works of German Expressionism, it was the first ballet Robert Joffrey saw as an audience member when he was 11 years old. The impact of that experience prompted him to restage the ballet with the Joffrey in 1967. In the 1980's, Robert Joffrey was a champion of the choreography of Ji?í Kylián and James Kudelka, artists who were not well known to American audiences. Their works have been part of our repertoire ever since."
James Kudelka's Pretty BALLET returns to the stage after the Joffrey presented its World Premiere in 2010. Set to Bohuslav Martin?'s Symphony No. 2, Kudelka's four-movement work uses demanding movement phrases full of quick, sharp changes of direction, along with intricate spatial patterns and a haunting adagio pas de deux with a ballerina in blood-red pointe shoes, all to explore the subject of ballet itself as a balance between romantic ideals and industrious principles.
Also on the program will be Ji?í Kylián's 1981 work Forgotten Land, not performed by the Joffrey since its Company Premiere in 1985. With music by Benjamin Britten (2013 will be the 100th anniversary of Britten's birth) and inspired by a painting of women on a beach by Edvard Munch, this dance uses a motif of pulsing, circular movements reminiscent of waves to invoke treasured memories of lost homelands, lost lovers and lost time.
The fall program closes with Kurt Jooss' The Green Table, an international dance classic and a pure example of Jooss' individual style and German Expressionism. Originally choreographed in 1932, the Joffrey is proud to present this work in honor of its 80th Anniversary. The Joffrey Ballet was the first American company to dance The Green Table, a Company Premiere in 1967. Subtitled "A Dance of Death in Eight Scenes" and set to music by Frederick A. Cohen, The Green Table is a commentary on the futility of war and the horrors it causes. It opens with a group of diplomats (the "Gentlemen in Black") having a discussion around a rectangular table covered with a green cloth. They end up pulling guns from their pockets and shooting in the air, thus symbolizing the declaration of war. The next six scenes portray different aspects of wartime: the separation from loved ones in The Farewells, war itself in The Battle and The Partisan, loneliness and misery in The Refugees, the emotional void and forced entertainment in The Brothel, and, finally, the psychologically beaten and wounded survivors in The Aftermath. The ballet then ends as it began, with the "Gentlemen in Black" around the green table. Throughout these episodes the figure of "Death" is triumphant, portrayed as a skeleton moving in a forceful and robotic way, relentlessly claiming its victims.
Single tickets for "Human Landscapes" range from $31 to $152 and are available for purchase at The Joffrey Ballet's official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
The complete performance schedule for "Human Landscapes" is as follows: Wednesday, October 17 at 7:30 pm; Friday, October 19 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, October 20 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, October 21 at 2 pm; Thursday, October 25 at 7:30 pm; Friday, October 26 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, October 27 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday, October 28 at 2 pm.
About the Choreographers
Kurt Jooss, born in Wasseralfingen, Germany, met Rudolf von Laban in 1920 while at the Stuttgart Conservatory and became his student, then leading dancer and later assistant. Jooss received his first appointment as "movement regisseur" at the Municipal Theatre in Munster, where together with his colleagues, Aino Siimola (who later became his wife), Sigurd Leeder, F.A. Cohen and Hein Heckroth, he formed his first company, Die Neue Tanzbuhne. In 1927, Jooss moved to Essen and co-founded the Folkwangschule (an Academy for Performing Arts) where he served as director of the Dance Division. He also re-formed his company, which subsequently became the resident company at the Essen Opera House. He won the first prize for The Green Table at the International Competition of Choreography in Paris in 1932. Between 1932 and 1947, the now internationally famous Ballets Jooss toured worldwide, though Jooss was forced to leave Germany for political reasons in 1933. In 1949, Jooss returned to Germany as a British citizen to help rebuild the Folkwangschule. Until his retirement in 1968, Jooss worked as director, choreographer and teacher. He finally agreed to stage his works for outside companies in 1964; these now continue to be in great demand in the international dance repertoire.