The Spring Program at The Joffrey

This past weekend I saw the Spring Program at the Joffrey Ballet and I think what I was most surprised about was that the theater was half empty. I mean it was just unreal. It’s amazing to see how significantly the recession is effecting everything. The part I found most amazing was that the least expensive seats in the house were completely empty. It’s fascinating that everyone has cut back so much. Even with the bailouts, there is such an impact to the arts. I find it quite tragic because I thought the performance was quite stunning.

I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the first piece which was Les Noces – choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, music by Igor Stravinsky. The music was stunning but I wasn’t really into the way Nijinska choreographed the piece. I think I tend to like dances that flow a bit more. To be sure the dancing was beautiful and the choreography was certainly dramatic, just not my style.

Now the second piece, Valses Poeticos – choreography by Helgi Tomasson, music by Enrique Granados, was absolutely stunning. I loved it. It was a piece between two dancers with the pianist on stage with them. It was so simple and delicately done. It was literally like watching a love story played out in front of your eyes by these artists with no words needing to be said.

I also loved the third piece, Round of Angels – choreography by Gerald Arpino, music by Gustav Mahler. I wasn’t really expecting to love this piece at all because I thought it was just some art-house thing about angels. But I believe this is what they call poetry in motion. Literally. It was so visually stunning. It was a piece all about lines and how bodies in motion can look so artful together. I think this was possibly the most visually appealing piece I have ever seen.

The last piece, Carousel (A Dance) – choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, music by Richard Rodgers, was quite good but nothing in comparison to the two in the middle. It was certainly interesting and beautifully danced, just not quite the same dramatic effect of Round of Angels or the incredible simplicity of Valses Poeticos.

I would recommend that if you have the time and the finances and if these pieces are performed anywhere you can find them. I would recommend going to see them. I know that the economy makes things difficult right now but I have always believed in supporting the arts. And I get calls from the opera, symphony and ballet in Chicago, so I know they must be having a difficult time. While I can’t commit to being a subscriber, I certainly do try to make the performances I can budget in.

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