Clowns and Others

  • Choreographer: Salvatore Aiello
  • Music: Sergei Prokofiev
  • Costumes: Douglas Barger
  • Lighting: Randall Henderson, recreated by Michael Korsch
  • World Premiere: Eddy Toussaint Dance Company, Montreal, 1978
  • PBT Performance Date: March 15-18, 2007;

Program Notes

by Carol Meeder, former director of arts education, 2007

Many choreographers prefer not to analyze their choreography.  They will discuss the history of the piece, the music, their creative process, the dancers for whom they choreograph, and the imagery they envision.  However – the choreography should speak for itself.  It creates a mood, an impression, an impact.  Each person sees, hears, and experiences it in an individual way; taking from it a personal interpretation and meaning.  That was George Balanchine’s philosophy and also that of Salvatore Aiello.  Aiello expressed it by saying “If we could talk about dance we wouldn’t need to do it, would we?”

Clowns and Others, one of his early works, was created at a time when he was making the transition from dancer to Associate Artistic Director and choreographer.  He was thirty-four.

Like most young choreographers, his first efforts reflect the work of his mentors and those whose influence comes from his profound admiration for them.  Clowns and Others reveals glimpses from Oscar Ariaz, Agnes de Mille, Alvin Ailey and others.  Aiello’s choreography is about capturing the human spirit, portraying the dynamics of human nature and how we handle it, human to human.  In each his thirty-two ballets he focuses on that, sometimes choosing to bring out the humor and other times, the poignancy.

“Dancers and Clowns…

The two are the same.

Each wears a mask on his soul.”

                         – Salvatore Aiello

In Clowns and Others, these principles are set against the backdrop of a circus or carnival.  In this “moving painting,” there is a group of vignettes, each one setting a scenario precipitated by the display of a human characteristic (selfishness, anger, grief, compassion, wonder, etc.)  In each scene others respond to the event and come up with a resolution by working together with understanding and with humor.  We often laugh at the misfortune of others, perhaps because we recognize ourselves, or maybe because we are relieved that, this time, the victim is someone else.

Imagine wandering through the grounds of an old-fashioned traveling circus.  You’ll laugh at the antics of the troupe as the show moves from clowns to lions, a daredevil tightrope walker, jugglers, a carousel, and more.  In the crowd around you, the usual selfish and exhausted children act out their frustrations

Set to the charming, animated, and humorous piano score of Sergei Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives, Opus 22, each vignette is punctuated and enhanced by the musical humor that Prokofiev often employed.  Each dance movement is infused with its own humor.  These components work together to convey the message that we are all in it together, trying to survive our lot in our own individual way, striving to feel comfortable and safe.

“We are not dancers.  We are human beings that just happen to dance.”

                                                            – Salvatore Aiello