In 1917, an all-star collaboration on the satiric one-act ballet "Parade"--between Jean Cocteau (libretto), Leonide Massine (choreography), Pablo Picasso (scenic and costume design) and Erik Satie (music)--made history.
Cubism in the theater; typewriters and foghorns in the orchestra pit; gymnastics and other non-classical disciplines incorporated into the ballet vocabulary--all this was pretty daring, even for the adventurous Diaghilev Ballets Russes. But the action plan was simplicity itself: performers and managers attempting to attract an audience at a Sunday fair in Paris.
"Parade" made history again when the Joffrey Ballet restaged it in 1973. With other lost classics including "The Green Table," this project proved that the Joffrey had become indispensable to American dance, that it was reviving a brilliant repertory that bigger, richer companies had simply ignored.
The Joffrey Ballet performance of "Parade," Thursday in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, vividly confirmed both the achievements of its original creators and the rightness of Robert Joffrey's mission to unearth buried treasure. Here were transformations of everyday sights and sounds that left us looking at our world with childlike wonder.
Gunshots and sirens--those harbingers of disaster--became musical instruments. Skyscrapers became overanxious patrons of the arts. And perhaps the most endearing horse in Western culture danced with enough percussive expertise to outclass both of the Joffrey's clog-dancing Mothers Simone in "La Fille mal Gardee."
As the wily, wily, wily Chinese Conjurer, Philip Jerry bounded weightlessly and exuded exotic menace. As the perky, perky, perky Little American Girl, Carole Valleskey made all the silent-film quotations and other unorthodox dance-mime into child's play.
As the gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous acrobats, Dawn Caccamo and Glenn Edgerton exuded the elegance and aplomb that had eluded them earlier on the program in their debuts as the white-clad lovers in "Les Patineurs."
Unrecognizable in their Cubist costume constructions, Kirby Hade, Jerel Hilding, Randall Graham and Douglas Martin all performed adroitly, and conductor Jonathan McPhee met the special demands of Satie's score with his customary excellence.