In preparation for Joffrey Ballet’s return to Zellerbach Hall on Saturday and Sunday, Ashley Wheater, artistic director for the world-renowned ballet company, spoke with The Daily Californian. While in residence at Berkeley, the Joffrey Ballet company is celebrating 60 years as a company and preparing for the West Coast premieres of two unique pieces.
Daily Cal: Since the Joffrey Ballet is celebrating its 20th anniversary season, was there any historic inspiration for selecting this year’s program?
Ashley Wheaton: The Joffrey Ballet celebrates 60 years as a company and 20 years in our Chicago home. Our programming, generally, reflects a mix of old and new. When we came to Berkeley last, we brought “The Green Table,” one of the classic modern works of the 1930s. We celebrated the 100-year anniversary of (Vaslav) Nijinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemp” in 2013. This time, we bring choreography created within the last five years. Many in the Bay Area are familiar with choreographers Val Caniparoli, Yuri Possokhov and Stanton Welch. We are proud to present work created by them for the Joffrey. New work is part of our legacy as well.
DC: This performance will be the West Coast premiere of Alexander Edman’s multimedia work, “Episode 31.” What multimedia elements can we expect to accompany the dancers’ dynamic movements?
AW: Alexander Ekman works with video, spoken word, recorded samples and hybrid combinations of voice, poetry and music. Dance is overlayed on this complicated accompaniment. The result is surprising and so much fun. Though Alex is only 26, we have two of his works in our repertoire, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration. Alex works in Europe, and America is just discovering his choreography. We are pleased to bring “Episode 31” to the Bay Area.
DC: As a former member of the San Francisco Ballet and the former ballet master and assistant to the artistic director, is it at all nostalgic whenever the Joffrey Ballet comes to the Bay Area?
AW: I feel at home in both Chicago and Northern California. I maintain a cottage in San Francisco and return whenever my schedule permits. Touring with the Joffrey to Berkeley allows me to bring these two worlds together, so I feel very fortunate.
Joffrey Ballet Company will be performing at Zellerbach Hall this Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available through Cal Performances.
Rosemarie Alejandrino is a senior staff writer. Contact her at [email protected].