Joffrey Ballet Launches Season with HUMAN LANDSCAPES, 10/17-28
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.
Ji?í Kylián, born in Prague, Czech Republic, studied at the city's Conservatory and London's Royal Ballet School before joining the Stuttgart Ballet (Germany) under John Cranko in 1968. In 1973, he was invited by the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) in Den Haag, Netherlands, as a guest choreographer. Here he made a successful debut with Viewers, the first of more than 60 choreographies he was to develop specifically for the NDT. Viewers was followed by Stoolgame (1974), La cathédrale engloutie (1975) and Return to a Strange Land (1975). In 1975, he left the Stuttgart Ballet for good to work exclusively for the NDT. Appointed the company's Artistic Director in 1975, Kylián achieved his international breakthrough with Sinfonietta in 1978, set to music composed by his compatriot Leoš Janá?ek. In the same year he was appointed Artistic Director of the NDT. Apart from developing choreographic works, Kylián has also built up a unique organizational structure for and within the NDT, adding two new dimensions to the Dutch ballet company. The world-famous NDT I has been expanded by NDT II (dancers between the age of 17 and 22) and NDT III (dancers/performers beyond the age of 40), each company with a distinctively individual repertoire. As from August 1999, Kylián retired from the position of the Artistic Director of NDT, though he maintains the essential roles as a resident choreographer and as NDT's Artistic Adviser.
James Kudelka is widely acknowledged as one of North America's most innovative choreographers. His mastery of both classical ballet and modern/contemporary dance has earned him commissions from companies-over 20 in all-as stylistically diverse as American Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance and Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. Even as a student at Canada's National Ballet School, Kudelka demonstrated a choreographic interest in exploring innovative approaches. While adept in the classical ballet vocabulary he infuses it with a contemporary sensibility acquired from his intense interest in modern movement idioms. Kudelka's work covers an impressive range, from virtuoso pas de deux, through large-scale and always arresting adaptations of such classics as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Cinderella, to boldly innovative creative collaborations with dancers, designers and musicians. Kudelka is known to have never been afraid to tackle psychologically challenging subject matter in his story ballets-he views dance as a primary medium of artistic discourse-and through his gift for movement metaphor infuses poetic, emotional meaning into his many non-narrative works. After nine distinguished years as artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada (1996-2005), Kudelka continues to undertake collaborative projects that engage and challenge him as a choreographer.
In 2012 The Joffrey Ballet celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker, Chicago's most popular holiday tradition and America's #1 Nutcracker. Originally created in 1987, each year The Nutcracker incorporates the full Joffrey company plus 118 young dancers from the greater Chicagoland area to tell the heart-warming story of Clara and her adventures with the Nutcracker Prince and other enchanted characters. Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker is presented in an engagement of 21 performances, December 7 – 27, 2012.
In the winter of 2013 the Joffrey presents its second mixed repertory program of the season, titled "American Legends," which includes Jerome Robbins' energetic and playful 1945 work Interplay, Gerald Arpino's sensual and magical duet Sea Shadow, a wildly popular Twyla Tharp classic, Nine Sinatra Songs, costumed by Oscar de la Renta, and the Chicago Premiere of Son of Chamber Symphony, a new work by choreographer Stanton Welch, Artistic Director of the Houston Ballet. The Joffrey's "American Legends" winter program runs February 13 – 24, 2013.
The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the 2012-2013 Season Sponsors and Partners. With special thanks to Abbott Fund and NIB Foundation, co-sponsors of the 2012-2013 Season; United Airlines, Official & Exclusive Airline; Vanguard Chicago Center for Orthopedics, Official Healthcare Provider; Marriott, Official Hotel Sponsor; AthletiCo, Official Provider of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Services; MAC, Official Cosmetic Sponsor; and our Season Partners, Allstate and Sara Lee Foundation.
For more information about The Joffrey Ballet and its programs visit joffrey.org.