The Joffrey Ballet's Iowa Tour: A One Night Benefit Performance for the Hancher Auditorium

The Joffrey has been a touring company since its founding days over 50 years ago.  When the Hancher Auditorium was recently ruined by the flood waters in Iowa, it was simple decision for the Joffrey to lend a helping hand.  On top of this devastation, we all know of the difficulties of the struggling economy.  When the economy struggles, dance companies, theaters, and the arts in general, struggle as well.  Our touring schedule this season, a testament to that, is not as extensive as it has been in some years in the past, but the importance of this particular performance is incredibly meaningful.  A sad fact is that the arts struggle the most when people begin to limit their pleasures or extravagances in life, yet to me, art, culture, and simplicity are the very things that tend to keep us grounded.  In Des Moines, Iowa, there is a need for the survival of the Hancher Auditorium.  Dance and culture in every city is so vital to support, in good times and bad.  It is often a wonderful thing for a well known company such as the Joffrey to perform in smaller cities in the United States in order to help enrich a community and bring out the local supporters of dance.  The Joffrey is an American company at heart, and has built its reputation of bringing classical and contemporary works, from the old to the new, to American cities big and small.  This upcoming season is no different.  Tomorrow we will be performing in Des Moines, Iowa for a one night only performance to benefit the rebuilding and survival of the Hancher Auditorium.

A look at the flood water devastation outside the Hancher Auditorium

The Joffrey Ballet and the Hancher Auditorium have a long history of collaboration, and it is a thrill to be able to bring support and arts to this particular theater and community, and at this particular time.  One of the Joffrey's most famous and celebrated ballets "Billboards" had its world premiere performance staged at the Hancher in 1993.  Laura Dean's "Sometimes It Snows in April", a section of the Joffrey/Prince collaboration "Billboards", was co-produced by Hancher.  Robert Joffrey's acclaimed production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker", now a mainstay in our performance seasons, was premiered in Hancher Auditorium in 1987.  Needless to say, this is a long standing partnership.  While the stage we will be performing on is temporarily relocated as they rebuild the actual theater, I am proud to dance on whatever stage they give us tomorrow evening.

We took a 6 hour bus ride from Chicago to Des Moines today.  Several company members decided to drive themselves, but I chose to ride the bus.  The weather was beautiful and made it an enjoyable ride, minus the fact that I am 6'6" and well, you can imagine how comfortable I would feel on a 6 hour bus ride.  I do always ask for the aisle seat with extra leg room when we travel by plane!  And of course, I have to duck my head walking through the aisles to put my baggage overhead, but I digress....
When we arrived at the hotel, I took a short nap where I could actually stretch out on a bed.  After I woke up, I stretched for about an hour in my room, simply to keep my muscles active and prevent them from cramping.   A 6 hour bus ride will do that to you.  I managed to eat a little something, stretched again for another hour before calling it a night.  I will be dancing the lead male role in "Carousel a Dance", ballet choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.  It is an undeniable crowd pleaser, I love performing it, and I hope I do not let the audience down tomorrow.
Tomorrow should be a great performance, and I will have to see how the day unfolds as I go through morning class, rehearsal, and finally the performance.
Please please, take a moment to look at these images from the Iowa flood:
(previously written on September 10, 2009)

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