Joffrey Ballet

Joffrey Ballet

Overview
The Joffrey Ballet is a dance company in Chicago, Illinois, founded in 1956. From 1995 to 2004, the company was known as The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. The company regularly performs classical ballets including Romeo & Juliet
Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev)
Romeo and Juliet is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. It is one of the most enduringly popular ballets...

and The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

, while balancing those classics with pioneering modern dance
Modern dance
Modern dance is a dance form developed in the early 20th century. Although the term Modern dance has also been applied to a category of 20th Century ballroom dances, Modern dance as a term usually refers to 20th century concert dance.-Intro:...

 pieces. Many prolific choreographers have worked with the Joffrey including Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp is an American dancer and choreographer, who lives and works in New York City.-Early years:Tharp was born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana.she spend hours working on it to help her...

, George Balanchine
George Balanchine
George Balanchine , born Giorgi Balanchivadze in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to a Georgian father and a Russian mother, was one of the 20th century's most famous choreographers, a developer of ballet in the United States, co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet...

, and founders Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino was an American dancer and choreographer. He was the artistic director and co-founder of The Joffrey Ballet.-Life and career:...

 and Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey was an American dancer, teacher, producer and choreographer, known for his highly imaginative modern ballets...

.

In 1956, a time during which most touring companies performed only reduced versions of ballet
Ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 classics, Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey was an American dancer, teacher, producer and choreographer, known for his highly imaginative modern ballets...

 and Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino was an American dancer and choreographer. He was the artistic director and co-founder of The Joffrey Ballet.-Life and career:...

 formed a unique six-dancer ensemble that toured the country in a station wagon pulling a U-Haul trailer, performing original ballets that were created by Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey was an American dancer, teacher, producer and choreographer, known for his highly imaginative modern ballets...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Joffrey Ballet is a dance company in Chicago, Illinois, founded in 1956. From 1995 to 2004, the company was known as The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. The company regularly performs classical ballets including Romeo & Juliet
Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev)
Romeo and Juliet is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. It is one of the most enduringly popular ballets...

and The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

, while balancing those classics with pioneering modern dance
Modern dance
Modern dance is a dance form developed in the early 20th century. Although the term Modern dance has also been applied to a category of 20th Century ballroom dances, Modern dance as a term usually refers to 20th century concert dance.-Intro:...

 pieces. Many prolific choreographers have worked with the Joffrey including Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp is an American dancer and choreographer, who lives and works in New York City.-Early years:Tharp was born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana.she spend hours working on it to help her...

, George Balanchine
George Balanchine
George Balanchine , born Giorgi Balanchivadze in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to a Georgian father and a Russian mother, was one of the 20th century's most famous choreographers, a developer of ballet in the United States, co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet...

, and founders Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino was an American dancer and choreographer. He was the artistic director and co-founder of The Joffrey Ballet.-Life and career:...

 and Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey was an American dancer, teacher, producer and choreographer, known for his highly imaginative modern ballets...

.

History


In 1956, a time during which most touring companies performed only reduced versions of ballet
Ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 classics, Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey was an American dancer, teacher, producer and choreographer, known for his highly imaginative modern ballets...

 and Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino was an American dancer and choreographer. He was the artistic director and co-founder of The Joffrey Ballet.-Life and career:...

 formed a unique six-dancer ensemble that toured the country in a station wagon pulling a U-Haul trailer, performing original ballets that were created by Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey
Robert Joffrey was an American dancer, teacher, producer and choreographer, known for his highly imaginative modern ballets...

. While Joffrey stayed in New York City to teach ballet classes and earn money to pay the dancers' salaries, Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino was an American dancer and choreographer. He was the artistic director and co-founder of The Joffrey Ballet.-Life and career:...

 led the troupe across America's heartland. The ensemble's first performance in a major city occurred in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 in 1957. The Joffrey Ballet originally settled down in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, originally named the Robert Joffrey Theatre Ballet. In 1962, modern choreographer Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey, Jr. was an American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance...

 was invited to make a work for the company. Rebekah Harkness was an important early benefactor and she made international touring possible (Soviet Union, 1963). But in 1964 she and Joffrey parted ways.

Joffrey started again, building up a new company that made its debut in 1965 as the Joffrey Ballet. Following a successful season at the New York City Center in 1966, it was invited to become City Center's resident ballet company with Robert Joffrey as artistic director and Arpino as chief choreographer. The 1960s and 1970s were a golden era for the company. Arpino's 1970 rock ballet Trinity was a big hit; Joffrey revived Kurt Jooss's
Kurt Jooss
Kurt Jooss was a famous ballet dancer and choreographer mixing classical ballet with theatre; he is also widely regarded as the founder of dance theatre or tanztheater...

 The Green Table
The Green Table
The Green Table is the masterpiece of German choreographer Kurt Jooss, and his most popular work, depicting the futility of peace negotiations of the 1930s...

in 1967, followed by revivals of Ashton's
Frederick Ashton
Sir Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton OM, CH, CBE was a leading international dancer and choreographer. He is most noted as the founder choreographer of The Royal Ballet in London, but also worked as a director and choreographer of opera, film and theatre revues.-Early life:Ashton was born at...

 Façade, Cranko's
John Cranko
John Cyril Cranko was a choreographer with the Sadler's Wells Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet....

 Pineapple Poll, Fokine's
Michel Fokine
Michel Fokine was a groundbreaking Russian choreographer and dancer.-Biography:...

 Petrushka (with Rudolf Nureyev
Rudolf Nureyev
Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev was a Russian dancer, considered one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of the 20th century. Nureyev's artistic skills explored expressive areas of the dance, providing a new role to the male ballet dancer who once served only as support to the women.In 1961 he...

), and Massine's Le Tricorne, Le Beau Danube and Parade. In 1973, Robert Joffrey asked Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp is an American dancer and choreographer, who lives and works in New York City.-Early years:Tharp was born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana.she spend hours working on it to help her...

 to create her first commissioned ballet, Deuce Coupe. The company continued as City Center Joffrey Ballet until 1977. From 1977, it performed as the Joffrey Ballet, with a second home established in Los Angeles from (1982-1992). In 1995, the company left New York City and returned to Chicago to establish a permanent residence.
The first several years in Chicago were financially arduous for the company, causing it to nearly shut its doors more than once; however, recent years have seen a significant revitalization as the performances have attracted larger and younger audiences. In 2005, the Joffrey Ballet celebrated its 10th anniversary in Chicago and in 2007 concluded a very well-received two-season-long 50th anniversary celebration, including a "River to River" tour of free, outdoor performances across Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, sponsored by Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is a public state-supported research university located in Iowa City, Iowa, United States. It is the oldest public university in the state. The university is organized into eleven colleges granting undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees...

.

The Joffrey Ballet has been hailed as “America’s Company of Firsts.” The Joffrey Ballet’s long list of “firsts” includes being the first dance company to perform at the White House at Jacqueline Kennedy’s invitation, the first to appear on American television, the first classical dance company to use multi-media, the first to create a ballet set to rock music, the first American company to perform a rock ballet in Russia (bringing with it the first American rock band ever to perform in Russia), the first and only dance company to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and the first company to have had a major motion picture based on it, Robert Altman
Robert Altman
Robert Bernard Altman was an American film director and screenwriter known for making films that are highly naturalistic, but with a stylized perspective. In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his body of work with an Academy Honorary Award.His films MASH , McCabe and...

’s The Company.

The Joffrey Ballet appeared in the major motion picture Save the Last Dance
Save the Last Dance
Save the Last Dance is a 2001 romantic drama dance film produced by MTV Films, directed by Thomas Carter and released by Paramount Pictures on January 12, 2001. The film stars Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas as a teenage interracial couple in Chicago who work together to help the main...

(2001), when the two protagonists of the story saw the company perform Sea Shadow and Les Présages in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. It was also the subject of Robert Altman
Robert Altman
Robert Bernard Altman was an American film director and screenwriter known for making films that are highly naturalistic, but with a stylized perspective. In 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his body of work with an Academy Honorary Award.His films MASH , McCabe and...

's penultimate film, The Company (2003). This movie stars Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell is an English actor with a career spanning over forty years.McDowell is principally known for his roles in the controversial films If...., O Lucky Man!, A Clockwork Orange and Caligula...

 as the ballet company's artistic director, a character based on Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino
Gerald Arpino was an American dancer and choreographer. He was the artistic director and co-founder of The Joffrey Ballet.-Life and career:...

, and is composed of stories gathered from the actual dancers, choreographers, and staff of the Joffrey Ballet. Most of the roles are played by real-life company members.

The Joffrey today


Currently, the company boasts 42 dancers and performs its regular October-May season at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
Roosevelt University
Roosevelt University is a coeducational, private university with campuses in Chicago, Illinois and Schaumburg, Illinois. Founded in 1945, the university is named in honor of both former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The university's curriculum is based on...

 in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, as well as several domestic and international tours throughout the year. Its repertoire consists of both classical and contemporary pieces, as well as annual December performances of The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

, presented in conjunction with the Chicago Sinfonietta
Chicago Sinfonietta
The Chicago Sinfonietta is an American orchestra based in Chicago, Illinois. The stated mission of the orchestra is to "serve as a national model for inclusiveness and innovation in classical music" and to "help America become a true cultural democracy, in which everyone can share fully in its...

.

On July 1, 2007, Gerald Arpino, co-founder, resident choreographer, and artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet, retired from day-to-day operations after 50 years with the company, taking the title artistic director emeritus, which he held until his death on October 29, 2008. In October 2007, Ashley Wheater, assistant artistic director and ballet master
Ballet Master
Ballet Master is the term used for an employee of a ballet company who is responsible for the level of competence of the dancers in their company...

 for San Francisco Ballet
San Francisco Ballet
The San Francisco Ballet is a ballet company, founded in 1933 as the San Francisco Opera Ballet. The company is currently based in the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, under the direction of Helgi Tomasson. SFB is the first professional ballet company in the United States...

, and former Joffrey dancer, became only the third person to ever serve as artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet when he was named as Gerald Arpino’s replacement.

For more than a half-century, The Joffrey Ballet’s commitment to taking world-class, artistically vibrant work to a broad and varied audience has created a solid foundation that continues to support the company’s unprecedented capacity for achieving important “firsts.” Today, the Joffrey, which has been hugely successful in its former residences in New York and Los Angeles, lives permanently in its brilliant new facility, Joffrey Tower
Joffrey Tower
The Joffrey Tower is a high-rise commercial real estate development on the northeast corner of North State Street and East Randolph Street in the Loop community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States that is the permanent home of the Joffrey Ballet...

, at 10 East Randolph Street in downtown Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois. The company’s commitment to accessibility is met through the most extensive touring schedule of any dance company in history, an innovative and highly effective education program including the much lauded Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.

Classically trained to the highest standards, the Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company and audiences and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works under artistic director Ashley C. Wheater and executive director Christopher Clinton Conway. The Joffrey Ballet has become one of the most revered and recognizable arts organizations in America and one of the top dance companies in the world.

Dancers


As of October 2011:

  • Katherine Bruno
  • April Daly
  • Erica Lynette Edwards
  • Yumelia Garcia
  • Elizabeth Hansen
  • Jaime Hickey
  • Anastacia Holden
  • Dara Holmes
  • Victoria Jaiani
  • Jeraldine Mendoza
  • Caitlin Meighan

  • Katherine Minor
  • Jacqueline Moscicke
  • Amber Neumann
  • Alexis Polito
  • Valerie Robin
  • Christine Rocas
  • Abigail Simon
  • Mahallia Ward
  • Jenny Winton
  • Joanna Wozniak
  • Kara Zimmerman

  • Matthew Adamczyk
  • Derrick Agnoletti
  • Miguel Blanco
  • Ogulcan Borova
  • Fabrice Calmels
  • Raul Casasola
  • John Mark Giragosian
  • Dylan Gutierrez
  • Rory Hohenstein
  • Fabio Lo Giudice

  • Graham Maverick
  • Aaron Rogers
  • Ricardo Santos
  • Lucas Segovia
  • Michael Smith
  • Temur Suluashvili
  • Jack Thorpe-Baker
  • Shane Urton
  • Mauro Villanueva
  • Alberto Velazquez


See also

  • Billboards
    Billboards (ballet)
    Billboards is a ballet created by the Joffrey Ballet featuring the works of Prince. The premiere was on Wednesday, January 27th, 1993, at Hancher Auditorium, University of Iowa, Iowa City....

    , a Joffrey Ballet production based on the songs of Prince
    Prince (musician)
    Prince Rogers Nelson , often known simply as Prince, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Prince has produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. Prince founded his own recording studio and label; writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of...

    .

External links