The Joffrey Ballet School Performance Company

Miller Theater, Columbia University, 2960 Broadway, New York City
May 7, 2011

A Review

The school must be doing something right. I saw performance without pretense, a thirst for moving, some interesting choreography. These young dancers dance because they love to dance, or at least that is what the performance said to me. I remember with relish the opening of Escape Artists, choreography by Brian McSween—a group in waist-high white tutus, turning, which was particularly gratifying to view; and UnEquilibrium, choreography by Davis Robertson. Robertson says of his work, “. . . [it is] my own exploration of traditional ballet vocabulary and more ‘urban’ or contemporary movement—a confluence that is porous, fluid, acerbic, joyful.” And he is right!! I did see what I expected (since this is the Joffrey Ballet School): a kaleidoscope of movement, from almost classical ballet to almost classical modern form, all of it well danced.

I do regret that that the lighting was undistinguished. Perhaps it was the best that the Miller has to offer, but these dances deserve better.

Of course, there were some minor distractions. For instance, although one could not fault her dancing, one young lady was extraordinarily thin. Another was a young man who has the habit of projecting his chin, head tilted back, a fault that belies his intended direction. I kept telling myself these are students; they’ll fix it. But who could fix the most beautiful ballerina whose performance I so admire. She must be nearly six feet tall and really will not fit standard ballet roles. I really hope that she is as creative as she is competent as a dancer so that she can create her own roles that we may see with wonder ten years down the road.

I cannot help comparing this performance with those I saw six weeks ago, the New York International Ballet Competition Gala, which were also school performances. While that gala had the advantage of staging, its cool adherence to perfection seemed to deny the communication of motion. This Joffrey performance invited me to share this event with them. If I had a kid to send to a dance school, you know to which I would prefer to send him.

—Ruth Grauert, May 7, 2011