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A Column About Columns:

Joffrey Ballet's New Headquarters

by Dean Speer

August 15, 2005 -- Chicago

A tour of the Joffrey Ballet’s spanking new rehearsal studios on State Street in the heart of The Loop in downtown Chicago revealed open spaces for the Company that are filled with light --  which imbues these work areas with energy and joy.

On the 19th floor of an office building, the studios have a feeling of a French atelier, with over-sized floor-to-ceiling-and-beyond windows, sprung floors, full-length wall-to-wall mirrors, viewing windows in hallways and doors, and pianos.  And NO columns in the middle of the studios, anywhere!  For those who fondly remember the Joffrey’s New York headquarters -- where its school is still located -- this is a big improvement.  In fact, Mr. Arpino himself joked with us about having been “columnized” throughout his career.

On a recent visit to architecturally-rich Chicago and its environs, we were fortunate to catch the center work of a company class and peek at the beginnings of Twyla Tharp and William Whitener casting and staging her ballet, “Deuce Coupe.”

Even though this was the Company’s first official day back to work, they looked fabulous, ready to go -- they really seemed to enjoy being there taking class and to be pleased with the prospect of working with one of America’s major choreographers.  There is an esprit de corps about the Joffrey, and this was clear as they took class, sang Happy Birthday to a colleague, and began the hard work of the ritual of the rehearsal process for the season.                                                                                                                                                     

We were also happily able to interview two of the dancers briefly.  [Ed:See accompanying features.]

As proven elsewhere, when dance companies are able to have better-than-adequate working spaces, these new studios will add mightily to the overall health and artistic well being of the dancers, staff, and artistic product.  Congratulations to the Joffrey Ballet on its exciting new digs!

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