Joffrey Celebrates 50th Anniversary At Music Center

REVIEW by Willard Manus

LOS ANGELES -- The Joffrey Ballet recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with some typically stunning performances at the Music Center. The company brought two programs to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the first of which was highlighted by a revival of Kurt Joss's dance drama The Green Table, a rare but powerful anti-war ballet.

First danced in 1932 at an international dance competition in Paris, The Green Table combines Expressionism, social consciousness, mime and mordant humor in making its protest against the insanity and horror of war. The ballet opens with ten "gentlemen in black" (leaders of state) bunched around a green table, arguing whether to make war or not. Once the decision is announced (with a blast of pistol fire), the wordless narrative unfolds swiftly and boldly, driven by the martial strains of Frederick Cohen's music. Young men are torn from the arms of their mothers and sent into battle. As they fight, the terrifying figure of Death (Fabrice Calmels) towers over them, claiming one victim after another.

Death is omnipresent, dominating every scene that unfolds, both on and off the battlefield. All notions of patriotism and glory are mocked, all finer feelings of love and compassion are shattered by the juggernaut of war. The dancers's movements are heavy and regimented, frighteningly so. This is an angry ballet, a raw, violent protest against man's inhumanity to man.

The Joffrey's appearance was part of The Dance at the Music Center's fourth season. Coming up in May is the local debut of Spain's COMPANIA NACIONAL DE DANZA, under the direction of Nacho Duato. The company will perform Romansos; Gnawa and Rassemblement.

(Friday, May 18-Sun. May 20 at the Ahmanson Theatre).

In June SHEN WEI DANCE ARTS will make its long-awaited return to L.A. with a performance of Connect Transfer. The company was founded on new dance techniques and a unique hybrid of Western and Eastern cultures. (Fri. June 22-Sun. June 24 at Walt Disney Concert Hall). For details call (213) 972-0711 or visit