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OFFBEAT: Kurt Jooss anti-war ballet ‘The Green Table’ presented for 80th anniversary by Chicago Joffrey

// Dec 17,2012

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,” with the highlight of the season surrounding a performance run of 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, Oct. 17-28.

“The artists whose work we present this season hold a special place in Joffrey history,” said 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 Kylián and Kudelka, artists who were not well known to American audiences. Their works have been part of our repertoire ever since.”

Kudelka’s “Pretty BALLET” is returning to their 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.

As for Kylián’s 1981 work “Forgotten Land,” is has not be 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 close with Jooss’ “The Green Table,” is already building audience anticipation. Defined as “an international dance classic and a pure example of Jooss’ individual style and German Expressionism.

Originally choreographed in 1932, the Joffrey talent have already said how proud they are to present this work in honor of its 80th Anniversary.

The Joffrey Ballet was the first American company to dance “The Green Table” as 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 St., as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at

The complete performance schedule for “Human Landscapes” is as follows: 7:30 p.m. performances on Wednesday, Oct. 17 and Friday, Oct. 19 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 and then again, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 and Friday, Oct. 26 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.

And don’t forget, for the holidays in 2012, The Joffrey Ballet celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Robert Joffrey’s “The Nutcracker,” Chicago’s most popular holiday tradition and tagged as “America’s No. 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, Dec. 7–27.

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 Feb. 13–24, 2013.

For more information about The Joffrey Ballet and its programs visit

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