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Release: Oct. 22, 1999

Joffrey Ballet veterans to preview ABT performance of ‘Pas des Deesses’

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Three veterans of the Joffrey Ballet -- University of Iowa emeritus faculty member Francoise Martinet, Brunilda Ruiz and American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie -- will preview the Nov. 2 and 3 ABT performance of Robert Joffrey’s "Pas des Deesses" in a pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2 in the greenroom of Hancher Auditorium. The discussion is free to ticketholders for the Nov. 2 ABT performance.

Joffrey choreographed "Pas des Deeses" in 1954, in his early 20s, before he founded the company that first put a distinctively American stamp on the art of ballet. The work was a staple of the Joffrey Ballet repertoire in the early days when it was a small company barnstorming the country in a station wagon.

Martinet, Ruiz and McKenzie performed in the work when they were members of Joffrey’s company. Ruiz set the work on ABT.

Joffrey’s company became one of the most influential forces in the ballet world, including the sort of eclectic repertoire -- featuring masterworks by modern-dance choreographers as well as ballet standards and contemporary works in the ballet idiom -- that has become common for American ballet companies, but Joffrey’s personal choreographic output was small.

And yet his few, painstakingly crafted works were landmark events for the Joffrey Ballet, including "Remembrances," "Postcards" and "Astarte," the multi-media spectacle that landed the Joffrey Ballet on the cover of Time magazine.

In "Pas des Deeses," Joffrey paid tribute to the styles and personalities of several of the greatest ballerinas of the 19th century. England’s Ballet Rambert put Joffrey on the choreographic map when it took this work into its repertory and performed it on tour. When Ballet Rambert performed in the Soviet Union, Joffrey became the first American ballet choreographer to have his work performed there.

In addition to performing in "Pas des Deesses" while she was one of the earliest members of the Joffrey Ballet, Martinet has also set the dance on members of the UI Dance Company and the UI touring ensemble, Dancers in Company.

Tickets for the ABT performance are available from the Hancher box office, 319-335-1160, or toll-free in Iowa and Illinois, 1-800-HANCHER.

(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: "Pas des Deesses" is pronounced "pah day Day-ESS." Francoise Martinet is pronounced frahn-SWAHZ mar-teen-AY.)