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DANCE REVIEWS : Joffrey Ballet Essays Jooss’ ‘Green Table’ at the Pavilion

While the fate of the Joffrey Ballet is negotiated in board rooms on both coasts, a ballet about corrupt negotiators and the consequences of their blind self-interest has re-entered the company repertory at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Until human nature is dramatically upgraded, Kurt Jooss’ 1932 anti-war parable “The Green Table” will always be timely. The dancing in Anna Markard’s production may look less weighty and gnarled than in vintage films of Jooss’ own company, but the essentials are here. Diplomats still unleash calamity and the figure of Death still gathers war victims for a danse macabre .

Like Jooss’ choreography, Frederic Cohen’s piano score (played by Stanley Babin and Douglas Schultz) incorporates hollow marches and sleazy social dances but refuses to be ironic about human suffering--or the power of Death.

The tightly compressed character vignettes require dancing actors of the first rank, and the Friday cast provided plenty of them. Edward Stierle was pure slime as the Profiteer, Beatriz Rodriguez heroically rebellious as the executed Partisan, Tina LeBlanc touchingly waif-like as the bewhored young girl, Peter Narbutas memorably haunted as the Old Soldier.

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As Death, Tyler Walters didn’t develop a specific emotional viewpoint on each person to be carried off, but concentrated on action, giving a performance of superb physical intensity--commanding even in the very dim light of the solos.

Tom Mossbrucker and Charlene Gehm proved less successfully cast, but who else in this company would be better as the Standard Bearer other than Walters, and who else would be better as the Old Mother other than Rodriguez?

Completing the program: familiar casts in Balanchine’s “Cotillon” and Ashton’s “Illuminations,” both also doom-laden in very different ways. Rodriguez and Narbutas danced major roles in all three ballets.


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