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Ballet: April 2008 Archives

Growing Pains at the Joffrey

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From inside Joffrey Tower, Chicago

Joffrey carries on steps of change

By Sid Smith
Chicago Tribune

The Joffrey Ballet of late seems simultaneously blessed and besieged, an organization in transition or trouble, depending on the day or the headline.

In September, the company moves into gleaming, new $23 million headquarters, with third- and fourth-floor studio glass walls overlooking the corner of State and Randolph Streets. Not only will this facility finally unite administrators and artists under one roof, but the skyscraper will trumpet the company's name – the Joffrey Tower – and offer daily views of the dancers at work.

The tricky hunt for a successor to octogenarian co-founder Gerald Arpino went off smoothly last fall, a process that ripped apart top dance troupes elsewhere. Ashley Wheater emerged as the board's unanimous choice, welcomed by Arpino with a warm public salute.

But in February came news that Maia Wilkins, 38, the fluid, soulful lead ballerina, won't be back next season, her contract not renewed, a move that struck some as abrupt.

Read more about this at the Chicago Tribune website:

   http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-0413_joffreyapr13,1,4799307.story

Dancing the Neapolitan Way

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Ballet in Naples

By Jeff Matthews
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The season program always reads "Opera and Ballet at San Carlo (year)," which reflects the fact that in Naples, as in most places in Italy, the ballet company is part of the same organization that provides opera – in this case, the San Varlo Theater. As elsewhere, dancers in Naples serve two ends: (1) to provide incidental dancing called for in many operas, and (2) to perform independent ballet. In Naples, there is both a ballet school and a ballet company. You start as a child in the former and hope to get good enough to move up to the latter.

Dance has always had a place at San Carlo. On opening night, November 4th, 1737, together with Achille in Sciro by Domenico Sarro, the first-ever opera at the splendid new theater, there were three short ballets (one before, one between acts one and two, and one after the opera) composed and choreographed by Gaetano Grossatesta. He worked at San Carlo for 30 years and was replaced by one of the most important names in the history of classical ballet: Salvatore Vigano (1769-1821), a Neapolitan dancer and choreographer who also studied and worked in France and Germany and who even collaborated with Beethoven on the ballet, Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus. (And wouldn't that look good on your résumé!) Vigano is considered the father of a new kind of performance called "coreodrama" about which I know nothing except that dance tells a story and is not simply moving around to music.

Read more about this at the Napoli.com website:

   http://www.napoli.com/viewarticolo.php?articolo=20982

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