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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Dance Review

A witty and technically superior night at Jacob’s Pillow

BECKET — Once upon an oh-too-brief time in America, ballet was so popular that New York City boasted three major companies, each with its particular niche. The Joffrey Ballet was like the younger, sometimes wackier sibling whose dancers were technically strong but more eclectic: Unlikely to blend easily into a cookie-cutter corps de ballet, they were instead encouraged to stand out in the group’s equally diverse, and often ground- and barrier-breaking, repertoire. Eventually the boom went bust. The Joffrey, struggling to stay afloat, moved to Chicago.

Today, the wild child has matured: The triple bill presented through Sunday at Jacob’s Pillow feels like a grown-up night at the ballet; though the program is flecked with wit and imbued with youthful spirit, the dancers are given serious choreography. They perform a delicious flood of recognizable, largely unadulterated ballet steps with sincere, rather than satiric, vigor. (The company boasts so many terrific dancers that it seems unfair not to mention them all, especially given the Joffrey’s non-ranking system; but suffice to say, wow.) Now that it’s de rigueur for small to medium ballet companies to present a multimedia, crossover repertoire, perhaps the Joffrey’s next legacy is to bring us full circle, back to classical ballet, albeit 21st-century style.

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