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This. Was. It. This was what I had been waiting for from the Joffrey: the trio of short works that is Eclectica. All are intellectually stimulating works of art from styles we have grown to expect from “America’s Company of Firsts.” This was also the very first show that was physically challenging for the dancers. There were several moments in the show when things were not perfect, but like the human body itself, these flaws are what gave the show its raw and very real edge.
Reflections was the only re-creation of the evening by Joffrey Co-Founder, Gerald Arpino. This is a piece of contradictions. The contrasting style of this rapid, neoclassical ballet is highlighted by a short solo from towering male danseur Fabrice Calmels. It is rare to see a solo from a male danseur that could stand on its own. Fabrice commands attention the moment he enters the stage. Reflections is all about the lines of the body and there are millions to take in, right up to the very last second of the piece.
The second piece, Crossed, teeters on the lines of controversial and religious symbolism, or commentary, depending on how you choose to view the overtly perpendicular choreography. Scene II features five shirtless and perfectly chiseled male danseurs that New York choreographer, Jessica Lang, certainly hand selected. They mesmerizingly move as one, yet each dancer maintains his own unique style and approach to every movement.. The constant, slow-moving walls of the set interject the sign of the cross into the background, silently suggesting Lang’s ministerial inspiration.
I cannot say that James Kudelka’s piece, Pretty Ballet, was anything more than what its title illustrates. It was pretty, and while certainly more so than classical ballet, I simply grew tired with the soldier-like, grand battments performed in severe repetition. It seems Kudelka wanted to show off his most difficult, intricate design and direction with a few subtle splashes of color and interesting formations to keep it “artsy.”
Eclectica was dance in its finest, purest form. The costumes, the make-up, the acting were all stripped down to reveal an organic and thought-provoking show that is not to be missed.