The Ballets Jooss, which achieved success in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and London, with the theatrical dance “The Green Table”, the outstanding feature on its program, will continue to gather new laurels for its presentation at the Forrest Theatre.
“The Green Table”, the prize-winning composition in the 1932 contest of the Paris Archives Internationale de la Danse, is not only interesting as a dance form in itself, but for its subtle use of propaganda in the satiric ballet which holds up to scorn the machinations of a conference of diplomats.
Kurt Jooss has devoted his efforts to the theatrical dance which he has taken as “the most fruitful synthesis of vital dramatic expression and pure dance form.” His art represents a blending of the classical and modern dance forms. His method is one of simplification and economy of gesture.
This technique is ably illustrated in the eight scenes which comprise “The Green Table”, the joint composition of Kurt Jooss and Fritz Cohen, composer, who is musical director of the company. It opens with a conference of the gentlemen in black who are engaged in diplomatic parley ad whose disagreements end in war. The ensuing scenes are taken up with the havoc of war shown-indirectly by its effect on the mothers and sweethearts of the soldiers. The final scene again shows the diplomatic conference haggling over peace terms. The futility of war is thus shown. At no time is the propaganda element blatant. Despair, grief, futility are portrayed by the dancers in this biting satirical dance drama. The pantomime is deftly conceived and effectively conveys to the audience the plot of the ballet.
“Impressions of a Big City”, danced to the music of Alexander Tansman’s “Sonatine Transatlantique”, while it makes use of the more obvious features of the big city, the dance-hall, the street and the workers’ quarters, nevertheless is diverting in its dance rythms and humor. “A Ball in Old Vienna”, admirably costumed, with the music of Joseph Lanner, arranged by Fritz Cohen, is a delightful satire on the older schools of the ballet. “Pavanne on the Death of an Infanta,” danced to the music of Maurice Revel, is not as effective as the rest of the program.
The principal dancers are, besides Kurt Jooss, Frida Holst, Elsa Kahl, Lisa Czobel, Mascha Lidolt, Lola Botka, Ruth Harris, Maria Kind-lova, Rudolph Pescht, Ernst Uthoff. Karl Bergeest, Werner Stammer, Edgar Frank and Heinz Rosen. The musical accompaniment is provided by two pianos, one of them played by Mr. Cohen.
FROM A VICKI BAUM NOVEL
“Divine Drudge”, dramatized by Vicki Baum and John Golden from Miss Baum’s novel “And Life Goes On”, does not do credit to its authors. One is led to expect more from the author of “Grand Hotel” than a dull recital of the events in an equally dull town in the German provinces. The play suffers from too many obvious situations which are merely stated and never resolved.
It is the story of a country doctor’s wife who has spent years of drudgery in aiding her husband perfect an experiment. What has sustained her throughout the years has been the hope that her husband’s researches will bring them both fame. All might have gone along smoothly but for a motor accident which brings a wealthy man with a broken rib to the home of the physician. He stays there until his rib is mended and falls in love with the wife. He makes her aware of the fact that her life is going to waste. She decides to go away with him, but when her husband discovers that what he thought was a new experiment had been done before, she remains at home.
The conflict possesses enough dramatic value to have provided a good play but very little is made of it. The physician’s waiting-room is the scene of the action and provides meeting-place for the characters who walk in and out with nothing real ever happening.
The one redeeming feature of the production is the splendid performance of Mady Christians as the wife. Others who do well despite their roles are Walter Avel as the physician, and Minor Watson as the wealthy man from Berlin.
Ruth Bricken Stoloff.