In contrast to the sweeping pirouettes and loose histrionics of famed modern dance choreographer Mark Morris, the Joffrey Ballet favors a more traditional approach: tensile grands plies, tendus, and ronds de jambe performed by perfectly sculpted bodies, who pay homage to a lineage spawned from Tchaikovsky and Jules Perrot. Still, the five-decade-old Chicago-based dance company traverses the whole spectrum of American Ballet, often revisiting its classical pedigree in a modern context.
This weekend's run at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall features two pop-oriented pieces from the Joffrey Ballet repertoire. The first, Sometimes It Snows in April, will have the company dancing to Prince's "Baby, You're a Star," clad in glittery white-and-silver costumes. The second, a 1973 piece by choreographer Twyla Tharp, is dubbed Deuce Coupe paying homage both to the iconic Ford hot rod and the Beach Boys' 1963 hit "Little Deuce Coupe." Combining a Beach Boys medley with classical ballet moves and '50s iconography vintage swing dresses and loud print shirts it's an early example of the "cross-pollination" sensibility that dominates contemporary dance. The last piece, Robert Joffrey's Pas des Déesses, brings to life an 1846 lithograph by Jacques Boudier, which depicts a competition between three ballerinas. Featuring tutus and piano music by 19th-century composer John Field, it represents the company's classical heritage, filtered through a retro lens. Joffrey Ballet performs Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Friday's event features a Sightlines preperformance talk with dance critic Elizabeth Zimmer, held in Zellerbach from 7-7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $34-$90. CalPerfs.berkeley.edu
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