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Gerald Carpenter: Joffrey Ballet Dances into Santa Barbara

In first ever visit, national company to perform four celebrated works

In another coup for UCSB Arts & Lectures, the irreplaceable Joffrey Ballet will visit The Granada for its first-ever performance in Santa Barbara, at 8 p.m. Monday.

The Joffrey program consists of four works: “Reflections” (1971), with choreography by Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino, set to “Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 33,” by Peter Tchaikovsky; “Smile with My Heart” (2002), with choreography by Lar Lubovitch, woven into music by Rodgers & Hammerstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; “Sea Shadow” (1962), choreography by Arpino, set to Maurice Ravel’s “Concerto in G-Major for Piano and Orchestra;” and “Age of Innocence” (2008), choreographed by Edwaard Liang on music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman (said to be “inspired by Jane Austen’s novels,” although Edith Wharton wrote The Age of Innocence).

Back in 1956, when ballet touring companies invariably conceived their mission as bringing truncated versions of Swan Lake and Cinderella to the culture-starved provinces, a couple of New York dancers named Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino had the revolutionary idea of touring with dance pieces that they had choreographed themselves. Arpino drove the six-dancer ensemble through the hinterlands in a station wagon, pulling a U-Haul trailer, while Joffrey stayed in New York, teaching and making money to keep the company afloat — which they somehow managed to do. The first big city they played, in 1957, was Chicago, which many years later was to become their permanent home.

Over the years, through a combination of brilliant dancing, dazzling choreography and lots of very hard work, the persistent attention that the Joffrey paid to the rest of the nation, west of the Hudson River, resulted in the Joffrey Ballet becoming a kind of de facto national company — a possession of us all, instead of the darlings of the New York cultural elite. We grew to depend upon them, and they have never let us down.

Tickets to the Joffrey are $68 and $48 (general public) and $28 (UCSB students). For tickets or more information, call Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535 or The Granada at 805.899.2222, or click here to purchase tickets online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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