The Cleveland Orchestra
The Joffrey Ballet
Blossom Music Center
1145 Steels Corners Road
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
August 18, 2013
The Rite of Spring
Ashley Wheater, artistic director
Tito Muñoz, Conductor
Joela Jones, piano
It was with great anticipation that the audience filed into Blossom Music Center to witness the performance of the Joffrey Ballet with the Cleveland Orchestra supplying the musical accompaniment. Four different pieces were on the bill with the supposed highlight being Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. It was an evening of up and downs and overall disappointment to most of the nearly sell-out crowd.
The evening began with a piece entitled “Interplay” (choreography by Jerome Robbins to music by Morton Gould). It was one of those cutesy “modern ballet pieces” that lacked one thing…good synchronized dancing. The entire cast seemed a half step off at different intervals lending a frenetic feel to what was not a frenetic work.
This was followed by “Son of Chamber Symphony” (choreographed by Yuri Possokhov to music by Aram Khachaturian). This was the company’s strongest showing of the night. With the female dancers in tutus and the male dancers in a sort of blue camo body suits it made for an interesting contrast and interaction between the two. Though a bit too avant-guarde for my taste, the audience seemed to enjoy it and gave a rousing cheer at the end.
Third on the bill was “Adagio”, a Pax de Duex featuring Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili. This was the true embodiment of classical ballet. Rich flowing music and powerful lifts, on pointe and tremendous catches made this the most respected work of the evening. It brought the house down.
After a short break, the show resumed with the highly anticipated climax of the night, “The Rite of Spring” (choreography after Vasliz Nijinsky, reconstructed by Millicent Hodson to music by Igor Stravinsky). This turned out to be the greatest disappoint of the entire show. It was a lavish, overblown and pompous dance recital with fancy costumes, fancy lighting and fancy stage settings. While there was a lot of movement there was no reach dancing. It consisted of groups of well shod people shuffling around the stage. It was a costume mixture of what looked like Native Americans, Cossacks and Peruvians at war with one another with a group of six dancing bears thrown in for good measure. At best it was confusing, at worst it was a travesty.
Throughout the work, groups of like costumes would form up for routines of stomping feet and slapping hands (and floor) all to the off syncopated music of Stravinsky. At various times of the piece all forty dancers filled the stage in a swirling vortex of color and movement but not much dancing. There were slight examples of classical ballet with some of the girls on pointe but it was a small part in comparison to the overall work. At one point, the principle dancer (the tribal sacrifice) simply stands posed without moving a muscle for what seemed forever. One patron exiting was heard to say “Tonight reminds me of that “modern dance” parody that Danny Kaye did in the movie “White Christmas”. Another patron was less kind when he said, “It s*ck*d”.
With this being the one hundred anniversary of the disastrous premiere of “The Rite of Spring” it is little wonder that the original first performance ended in a five day riot (probably due to people being refused a refund). With any luck we will not have to worry about seeing this overdone work of Igor’s for another hundred years. I score it three out of five stars strictly on the strength of the Cleveland Orchestra’s great playing combined with the poor showing by the Joffrey Ballet. If grading the Ballet Company alone, the best I would give the evening of disappointment would be two stars.
Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): While the music was expertly played by the phenomenal Cleveland Orchestra, it could not mask the problems that the dancers brought with them to the stage. Would the “real” Joffrey Ballet please show up next time? A great Pax de Duex is not enough to carry the entire show.
The show returns tomorrow, Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 8:00 for one more round of gratuitous overindulgence. While not giving the show a strong endorsement, it is worth the price of the ticket to hear the Cleveland Orchestra perform and at least two of the dance pieces you may find to your liking depending on your level of appreciation of classical ballet.
For tickets, go to: http://www.clevelandorchestra.com/tickets/reserve.aspx?performanceNumber...