The International Jooss Ballet, coming to New York soon, is bringing with it an entirely new kind of dance artistry.
The Jooss Ballet does not just dance. Each dance is a complete dramatic composition, a sharp, clear-cut expression of the theme. The themes of the dances are taken from the life of today, from its political and social aspects. Each dance pertains to a specific contemporary problem, sometimes in the form of a caricature, and sometimes as a sharp, biting satire. The gestures, motions and mimicry of the dancers are so clear, so simple and so direct that the audience readily understands at what the satire is aimed.
Thus, for example, the Jooss ballet has excited a great deal of comment by its number called “The Green Table.” The dance portrays an international conference of statesmen. It is a sharp take-off on the various conferences which the nations are constantly calling but which have not helped the world a single jot. Here you see the great political heads of the world ostensibly pondering over how to save humanity. But soon the dance is turned into a dance macabre which calls the youth of the world to war and bloodshed. Instead of the great political lords, Death sits at the green table of peace. And about the table are enacted the terrible scenes of mourning and discouragement which war brings in its wake. An unusual satire on the many hopeless peace conferences of history.
Each dance is accompanied by specially adapted music, which heightens the color and the effect of the performance. The music is in itself a distinct contribution to the various dances. It is the work of the well-known Jewish musician Fritz Cohen, who is the musical director of the Jooss Ballet.
The Jooss Ballet is justly termed an international ballet, for dancers from various countries are among its members.
It is worthy of note the Jooss Ballet is at present taboo in Germany. Mr. Kurt Jooss, founder of the Ballet, is an opponent of war, a pacifist and an ultra-modernist. He has therefore not come into the good graces of the Hitler government, according to the New York Times and the Boston Transcript. Both newspapers indicate that the Jooss Ballet is not welcome in Germany since Hitler’s accession to power. Hitler dislikes everything that is modern and everything that is not one hundred per cent Aryan. The Jooss Ballet is the last word in modern dance artistry, the musical director is the Jewish Fritz Cohen, and five of the dancers are also Jewish.
When the Jooss Ballet was to appear in Hessen, Germany, the authorities demanded that the director, Herr Jooss, part company with his Jewish musical-director, Herr Cohen, and the five Jewish members of the troupe. The director refused to do this and has since then declined to appear in Germany.
The Jooss Ballet has been travelling in various countries for a number of years, but has not been in Germany. Wherever it has appeared, the ballet has been enthusiastically received and has won much praise. And now America, too, is to have the opportunity of seeing the remarkable art of this ultramodern international Jooss Ballet.