Joffrey Revisits "The Green Table"

October 1, 2012
Pointe Magazine


The Joffrey Ballet commemorates the 80th anniversary of Kurt Jooss' antiwar masterpiece The Green Table this October, performing the baller as part of its "Human Landscapes" program. "There are some ballets that don't age well, but this is not one of them," says the Joffrey's Fabrice Calmels, who returns to the role of Death, which he danced when the company last mounted the piece five years ago. "It's an iconic, powerful work of art."


Eerie and macabre, The Green Table was inspired by the totentanz, a series of medieval images depicting people dancing with death. Jooss transformed it into a metaphor for the horrors of modern war. His death is hypnotic and commanding, a robotic skeleton claiming victim after victim.


Calmels first learned this part from Jooss' daughter Anna MArkard, who set the ballet on companies around the world after her father's death in 1979. "This ballet was in Anna's heart - she lived it for years," Calmels says. "I appreciate how meticulous she was with the details, because it is such a detailed ballet. The first time I danced Death, we worked on every finger, on the tiniest aspects of posture. The choreography is so distinctive that eventuallyit overtakes you. It becomes part of you."