Boléro features eight men and seven women, with Company Artist Anais Bueno as the featured performer. Arai envisions Bueno’s role as a type of muse, evoking an abstract but humanistic quality to the overall feeling of the piece, leading her “disciples” through a serene world of light and shadows. The Joffrey’s Gerald Arpino Black Box Theatre, equipped with professional-grade stage lighting, provides a dramatic backdrop that emulates the proscenium setting of a live, in-person performance.
The primary inspiration for Boléro is the Spanish-flavored, orchestral work of the same name by Maurice Ravel. Recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, the famous one-movement score is known for beginning softly and ending, according to the composer’s instructions, as loudly as possible.
“To me, the most fascinating quality of the music is that the rhythm remains the same throughout the piece and yet, as the instruments change from snare drum to flute, trombone to woodwinds, and so on, an array of emotions are unleashed,” said Arai. “This inspires me most of all.”
Veteran Company Artist Temur Suluashvili designed the costumes for Boléro, focusing on a minimal and classic Japanese dance look with the men in Kabuki pants and women in floating skirts over nude leotards, with large black pearls adorning their necks. The costumes include face masks, adding to the theatrical look.
“The abilities of The Joffrey dancers go well beyond dance,” said Wheater. “Temur is an incredible photographer and costumer, and during this unprecedented time, so many of our dancers have been able to hone their creative abilities in other disciplines, launch projects and even companies, making them more holistic artists overall.”
Boléro is part of the company’s recently announced Joffrey Studio Series, a comprehensive roster of free, virtual programming — from livestream performances and rehearsals to pre-recorded conversations — curated by Joffrey artists during the COVID-19 era. More information can be found at on their Studio Series page.