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February 29, 1988 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

An enchanting production of a seasonal
favorite: Christmas Eve festivities inAct
One (left), the 'Coffee' dance

Joifrey Finds a Home in Iowa
The university cosponsors a new 'Nutcracker'

The bicoastal Joffrey Ballet considers
New York and Los Angeles its homes,
but when the company unveiled its
enchanting production of the seasonal
dance favorite "The Nutcracker" in De-
cember, the premiere took place at the Uni-
versity of Iowa in Iowa City. Iowa City? Not
a place usually associated with major bal-
let events, you say. But without the involve-
ment of the university, there would have
been no Joffrey "Nutcracker" in 1987. The
university stepped into the breach when
the Joffrey was having trouble
raising seed money for the
"Nutcracker" that artistic di-
rector Robert Joffrey had long
dreamed of. Iowa's contribu-
tion-in cash from private gifts
and in services and facilities
provided by the school-ulti-
mately came to $500,000, one-
third of the cost.
This largesse grew from the
longstanding relationship be-
tween the Joffrey and the
university's Hancher Auditori-
um. The company has per-
formed there regularly since
1974 and its following is large
and loyal. Two years ago
Hancher administrators com-
missioned a ballet from the
company, and the Joffrey II2
Dancers, an apprentice group,
has had three residencies in
Iowa City in the past six years.
In addition, a former principal Creating:.

dancer for the Joffrey heads the Iowa
dance department. "Iowans suffer some-
times pridewise because they're regarded
as hicks or living in the cornfields," says
Hancher director Wallace Chappell. "We
do live in cornfields-but there are a lot of
people out here with taste and a lot of
interest in the performing arts."
Bankrolling "The Nutcracker" has been
more than a pride booster for Iowa. Stu-
dents got to watch and interact with the
choreographers, dancers and designers

while the troupe was on campus creating
the ballet. And at every stop the Joffrey
makes with "The Nutcracker" during the
holiday season each year, audiences will
learn that Iowa helped to produce it. Addi-
tional public-relations mileage can be
gained from organizing alumni events
around performances.
Iowa's financial support enabled the Jof-
frey to spend last June, which would oth-
erwise have been an unwelcome layoff pe-
riod, at the university developing "The
Nutcracker" and rehearsing, as well,
what turned out to be its very successful
reconstruction of Nijinsky's "Rite Of
Spring." And the two weeks of theater
time in Iowa City for technical rehearsals
just prior to "The Nutcracker"
premiere would have been un-
affordable or unavailable in the
company's hometowns.
But the Iowa-Joffrey connec-
tion runs deeper than dollars
and cents. "It gives us an oppor-
tunity to maintain the identity
of the Joffrey being a national
touring company," says execu-
tive director Pennie Curry. "If
we create everything in New
York and give all the premiares
to New York or even Los Ange-
les, then when we go to other
cities we become a touring
product that doesn't really
have much contact with the
community." In Iowa City,
there is already talk of a fu-
ture project. As Iowa's Chap-
pell sees it, "I guess we would
qualify as the third home-if
VAN ALLEN there were a coast here."

Associate director Gerald Arpino, dancersi

MARCH 1988


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