Santa Fe hosts Joffrey Ballet Concert Group on Saturday


The Joffrey Ballet School’s performing group will perform Saturday at the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall. (Courtesy of David Giesbrecht)

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 1:34 p.m.

What began as a proposed student master class has evolved into a full stage production Saturday night, as Santa Fe College hosts the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group from New York City’s Joffrey Ballet School.

Facts

Joffrey Ballet Concert Group
What: Performing ensemble from the New York-based Joffrey Ballet School performs
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fine Arts Hall, Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St.
Tickets: $12-$15
Info: 395-4181

“We’ve brought in guest dancers from excellent companies and schools before, “ says Santa Fe Fine Arts Chair Alora Haynes. “But it’s always been individuals, here to guest teach or choreograph. This is the first time Santa Fe has brought in an entire performing group. To have it be one of this stature is truly exciting.”

Joffrey Ballet School was named for its founding father Robert Joffrey, one of the most influential figures in 20th-century American dance. (There is the separate, professional Joffrey Ballet company in Chicago that also bears Joffrey’s name, but the two institutions are entirely unaffiliated.)

To clarify, Saturday’s performers are not dancers of Joffrey Ballet from Chicago, who performed at the Phillips Center a year ago. The Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, on a current national tour, is based in Greenwich Village and is the performing company of the school.

Davis Robertson directs the Concert Group. Robertson himself trained at JBS, and later at School of American Ballet, before joining Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet in 1991.

As a Joffrey dancer, he also performs in the films “Save the Last Dance” and Robert Altman’s “The Company”.

He also has danced on Broadway in shows like “Movin’ Out” and “Dirty Dancing,” and currently is a member of the ballet company of the Metropolitan Opera. Under Robertson, Saturday’s performers will showcase repertory from major choreographers, including Gerald Arpino, Dwight Rhoden and Larry Keigwin.

Arpino co-founded Joffrey Ballet alongside Robert Joffrey, whom Arpino succeeded as director in 1988. Saturday’s performance will include Arpino’s “Birthday Variations.”

Dwight Rhoden was a principal with the Ailey before creating Complexions Contemporary Dance. The Joffrey Ballet School Concert Group will perform Rhoden’s “Threshold Inlay”.

Also on the bill is Larry Keigwin’s “Air.” Keigwin is the director of Keigwin and Company, now in its 10 year. The NYC-based company performs at festivals and theatres across the US. In addition to JBS Concert Group, Keigwin’s commissions include the likes of Martha Graham Dance Company and The Juilliard School.

Two additional Concert Group pieces, to be determined, will round out the evening.

Dance Theatre of Santa Fe, the student performing company of SFC’s nationally recognized dance department, will perform one work from its own repertory, to show alongside the Joffrey Ballet School dancers.

“Davis and the whole organization have been so gracious to us,” says Haynes. “This is truly a coup for Santa Fe and for our dancers to present a group of this caliber. And for our dancers to be able to perform one piece alongside other dancers at this level is amazing. It’s a great opportunity for Gainesville audiences to come see this level of dancing, and to see performers we otherwise could not.”

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturdayin the Santa Fe Fine Arts Hall.

Tickets are $12 for balcony seats and $15 for orchestra seating, and are available in advance and at the door. For more information, call the Santa Fe box office at 395-5355.

Master class

Santa Fe College and the Joffrey Ballet School also have extended an earlier, separate master class to select SFC dancers and area studio owners and company directors. Robertson will teach the class.

Indeed, says Haynes, that’s how Saturday’s entire production became possible.

“The Joffrey dancers contacted UF about Davis teaching a master class while the tour would be passing through” Haynes says. “UF was kind enough to refer them to us here at Santa Fe. We scheduled a class, and I sent Davis photos of our fabulous facility, so he could see the space.”

“So then he called me back again, to say, ‘Since you have this great theater available, how about us just giving a performance while we’re there?’ “Their usual rate was high for a community college presenter,” Haynes says. “So then he offered to just take the box office proceeds. Time and again they have been so generous to us through this process of bringing them here. We at SFC are so grateful and so excited, for our dancers but mostly for the entire community.”

The Joffrey Ballet School has a reputation of excellence training ballet dancers in both classical and contemporary styles. Students go on to perform in major ballet companies worldwide.

“For our students to witness their process, from loading in, rehearsing, from backstage to the finished product onstage, is a wonderful learning experience for our own dancers to see and be part of,” Haynes says. “And our community can come out and see works by famous choreographers and enjoy this caliber of dance.”

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