Having the Joffrey in Chicago could be a win-win situation for both the company and Chicago's dance community if the Joffrey wises up and focuses on its own brand of art instead of populist pabulum, and if the community learns to leverage the presence of an internationally recognized ballet company. It seems to be happening. The Joffrey has returned to what it does best: innovative, accessible, varied repertory. It was this approach that put them on the map and caused so many other companies to follow in their footsteps. For this engagement they've gone all the way back to Robert Joffrey's Pas des Deesses, included in the company's debut 1956 performance and the first American ballet to be seen in China. A period piece, it satirizes the three great ballerinas of the romantic era--Lucile Grahn, Fanny Cerrito, and Marie Taglioni--portraying them as vying for the affection of a cavalier. If well-done, it's dramatic, charming, and of historical interest on several levels--the kind of work the Joffrey does like no other troupe. Among other promising works is a world premiere by Joffrey associate director Ann Marie DeAngelo, remembered in ballet circles for so stunning the jury at the Varna International Competition in 1976 that a special award for technical excellence was created for and bestowed upon her. In Kali Ma she merges that fire with hip-hop and other street forms, inviting several talented collaborators to join her, including Chicago's Oriana Singers. Also included on these programs are Initiation, by Chicago favorite Randy Duncan, and the 1975 Untitled, by the reliably unusual Pilobolus. See the listing for a complete lineup. At the Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe; $10-$45. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 312-739-0120 for Joffrey subscription information. --Joseph Houseal
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Herbert Migdoll.