HISTORY OF THE COMPANY
Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino's uniquely American vision of dance first took form in 1956 with an ensemble of six strong, individual dancers who toured on a series of one-night stands with a repertoire of original ballets by their artistic director Robert Joffrey. From the beginning, The Joffrey Ballet brought a new American approach to ballet, setting itself apart from other small touring companies of the time, which were for the most part, performing reduced versions of the classics. Joffrey Co-Founder and current Artistic Director Gerald Arpino, who was a leading dancer with the Company in its early years, before becoming resident choreographer, remembers the Company's debut performance on October 2, 1956 at a 10 a.m. assembly at Frostburg State Teachers College in western Maryland. "We unloaded the station wagon, rosined the stage, set the lights, ironed the costumes, and got everything ready for the performance the next morning," explains Gerald Arpino. "The entire program was choreographed by Robert Joffrey, who remained in New York teaching to help pay the dancers' salaries."
On January 22, 1957, when The Joffrey Ballet arrived - eight dancers strong - at Chicago's 8th Street Theater for its first performance in a major city, with Robert Joffrey joining them for the first time, a snow storm was in full progress. But it could not dampen the Company's spirits, nor prevent an audience that included critics Claudia Cassidy and Ann Barzel from showering them with applause. It was on the strength of that Chicago performance and the reviews of these two nationally respected critics that the Joffrey was able to secure further bookings and really coalesce as a Company. It was the beginning of a journey that has taken the Company around the world and has brought it acclaim as one of the leading international ballet companies - an American Classic.
Joffrey and Arpino created a uniquely American Company of dancers for whom they choreographed original and relevant ballets, commissioned dances from the finest young choreographers (many of whom were given their first national exposure by The Joffrey), and meticulously reconstructed some of the early masterworks of the 20th century repertoire. It has been acknowledged by most dance historians that these two men set a new standard in ballet, both accessible and meaningful, classically disciplined, and brimming with infectious spirit. They were pioneers whose innovations and discoveries have influenced many ballet companies across the nation. The company is renowned for its remarkable repertory of more than 225 ballets by 85 choreographers. The Joffrey remains a touring force, performing in more than 400 cities in all 50 states, and representing the United States across the globe with its technical virtuosity, the power of its ballets, and the sheer joy of its dancing.
GERALD ARPINO, Founder and Artistic Director - The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago
Gerald Arpino established The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago in 1995 to carry on the traditions and legacy of The Joffrey Ballet, which he co-founded with Robert Joffrey in 1956 and for which he served as associate director for many years. Upon Mr. Joffrey's death in 1988, Mr. Arpino succeeded him as Artistic Director. A leading dancer with the company in its early years, he choreographed his first works Ropes and Partita For Four, in 1961 at the 92nd Street "Y" in New York. Shortly thereafter, he became The Joffrey's resident choreographer and to date, has created more than one-third of the Company's original repertoire. Mr Arpino is recognized internationally as one of the great choreographers of our day, and has been honored with numerous awards for his contribution to the arts. He lends much of his time to serving as a major spokesman on the arts to government, business, and cultural communities.
ARNOLD ROTH, Conductor and Producer
Acclaimed by critics and enthusiastic audiences alike, violinist Arnie Roth has distinguished himself as a solo performer, concertmaster and conductor in addition to being a sought after orchestra contractor and record producer. The diversity and depth of his talents are mirrored in both the quality and variety of his performances and projects. Whether conducting the London Symphony Orchestra or performing as a longtime member of the Grammy Award winning group Manheim Steamroller, Arnie is in constant demand. His production credits range from work with jazz star Branford Marsalis, to the popular Four Winds recordings of Pittsburgh Symphony Brass, to his producing and performing in the consecutive #1 classical hits "Holiday Musik " and "Holiday Musik II" on American Gramaphone.