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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Joffrey Ensemble Dancers

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 6, 2003
New York, NY

About the Author:

Joffrey Ensemble Dancers

Elie Lazar, Artistic Director and Company Teacher
Edith D'Addario, General Director

Press and Public Relations, Audrey Ross

John Jay College Theater
10th Avenue and 59th Street

Eleanor D'Antuono, Coach, Artistic Advisor, and Company Teacher
Francesca Corkle, Artistic Advisor and Company Teacher
Trinette Singleton, Artistic Advisor
John Magnus, Artistic Advisor
Kristina Kloss, Stage Manager/Lighting Designer
Paul Spung and Andrei Kulyk, Accompanists

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 6, 2003

Joffrey Ensemble Dancers are the official company of the Joffrey Ballet School. Members of Joffrey Ensemble Dancers are chosen from the Joffrey Ballet School, founded in 1952, and directed by Edith D'Addario since 1961. Artistic Director, Elie Lazar, created this troupe in 2000, to enable young dancers to transition to a professional career. He chooses a Repertoire that is comprised of works by various choreographers and styles of dance. His dancers come from many countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Russia. This Company tours around the country in states, such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Vermont. They are also in the schools with educational outreach programs and master classes. Joffrey Ensemble Dancers specialize in classic technique with a contemporary motif.

Elie Lazar, Artistic Director and Choreographer, from Rehovot, Israel, is a New Jersey resident and a Principal Dancer with the New Jersey Ballet. He has danced with virtuosity in roles choreographed by Balanchine. He has also appeared with the Israel National Opera, the Haifa Ballet, and the Inbar Dance Company. Mr. Lazar has choreographed specific works for this Ensemble and has designed a lecture demonstrations, workshops, and summer residencies. He also teaches at Broadway Dance Center and Tokyo City Ballet. (Program Notes).

Tête-à-Tête (1997): Choreography by Elie Lazar, Music by A. Masanger, Costumes by Paul H. MacRae, performed by Alison Dubsky, Raul Peinado, Julliana Scarpelli, Marcos Medina, Atsuko Minoura, and Angelo Giglio. With flowing and complimentary, white, yellow, and blue costumes, these very talented young dancers, muscular and confident, joyful and exuberant, presented an abstract ballet to abstract music, which was impressive and interesting. The young male dancers seemed less polished than the females, but these are semi-professionals, and their technical skills and timing are in extremely good form for their age and level of training. What was most noticeable, was the excited and buoyant attitude of these Joffrey Ensemble dancers, compared to the more reserved attitude of most NY company dancers, as they made their New York debut at John Jay College Theater, a very large auditorium in a college that trains US Marshals. The audience appeared to include many Israeli dance fans of Elie Lazar, who was kind enough to mingle during both intermissions.

Come In (2001): Choreography by Elie Lazar, Music by Dimitri Shostakovich, Costumes by Paul H. MacRae, Performed by Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili. This elegant duet had a very professional motif and tone, and Ms. Jaiani and Mr. Suluashvili were in total focus of each other and most effectively partnered. The music and emotions swelled and flowed in a romantic and sensual style. The lifts and elongations were choreographically fascinating, and I had the sensation of wanting to see this piece once more to explore the technical levels of dance, as I was so focused on the score and on the visually exotic image of this dance.

Niche (1996): Choreography by Elie Lazar, Music by Dimitri Shostakovich, Costumes by Lori Christman, Performed by Julliana Scarpelli, Angelo Giglio, Alison Dubsky, Raul Peinado, Victoria Jaiani, Temur Suluashvili, and Atsuko Minoura. As it happens, Shostakovich is one of my favorite composers, and Mr. Lazar could not have chosen a better score to structure this complicated and compelling work. With a folk motif to the costumes and innocent but confident partnering, the Ensemble performed this piece with incredible skill. The country peasant costumes and the backdrop of a nighttime sky, with full moon turning to crescent moon, were evocative and extraordinarily appropriate to the score and to the choreography. These dancers exuded confidence and emotionality, with their eclectic, international heritages and personas.

Surrender 2 Love (2000): Choreography by Elie Lazar, Music by Nuevo Flamenco, Costumes by Paul H. MacRae, performed by Julliana Scarpelli, Angelo Giglio, Alison Dubsky, Raul Peinado, Atsuko Minoura, Marcos Medina, Victoria Jaiani, and Temur Suluashvili. Very characteristically, this was my favorite piece, with the Latin rhythms, the black and gray male costumes, and the colorful, vibrant female costumes, the Barrio sets, with bistro chairs, and the sound of cahones, the Flamenco percussive instrument, as well as the sound of castanets and guitars. (See Flamenco Reviews and Photos and Interview). With sexy, provocative choreography, the dancers seemed to come alive in a new way, on fire with the music and the attitude, which contrasted so remarkably to the peasant motif of the previous piece. Some of the choreography could have been influenced by Tango, as I noticed ochos and boléos, now and then, although the dancers were in ballet slippers. In fact, this piece reminded me of various works of Ballet Hispanico (See Review 12/15/02 and Review 12/6/02). I would love to see this work again.

Kudos to Elie Lazar, and kudos to Edith D'Addario for this inspiring program. They have created a virtuosic Ensemble with a promising future, replete with prominent talent. I wish them well, at home and on tour.

Elie Lazar, Artistic Director, Joffrey Ensemble
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

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