Valerie Robin Gets "Merry" at The Joffrey

February 15, 2011
ClubPointe of Pointe Magazine


Chicago audiences are sure to be charmed by Ronald Hynd's comical ballet "The Merry Widow," which The Joffrey Ballet performs for the first time this month. ClubPointe spoke with Joffrey veteran Valerie Robin, who's dancing the role of the vivacious widow, Hanna.


The Merry Widow involves a lot of acting. Is that something that comes naturally to you?

A lot of ingredients go into making a character look and feel right. I wouldn't say it comes naturally; it's a process. It's taken time for me to figure out what reads and what doesn't read--how I can convey affection or surprise onstage.

Who is setting the ballet on the company?

John Meehan, who danced in the original production, set it initially. Now Ronald is here to clean it up and coach the characters. There are several people learning the part of Hanna, and they're helping each of us put our own stamp on it. Because I'm a serious-looking dancer, they've asked me to focus more on the "merry" than the "widow."

How does dancing Merry Widow compare to dancing an ultra-classical full-length?

When you're doing a classical ballet that's been around for hundreds of years, people already have an idea of what it should look like--of what Giselle or Odette should look like. It's not a box, exactly, but a frame you have to keep in mind. In a ballet like Merry Widow, you have a bit more wiggle room.