Tendu and Boogie Down 

Joffrey Ballet to touch all the bases at Zellerbach

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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