In 2003, The Joffrey Ballet was featured in director Robert Altman’s film The Company. The company benefited from the film financially, and their contribution on the big screen helped expose their work to a much larger audience.
Hippies, sex, art and politics. The Joffrey Ballet’s Astarte was the first multimedia production of it’s kind: it was a fusion of audience participation and rock ‘n’ roll music. After all it was the 1960s, but the performance went on to define The Joffrey.
JOFFREY: MAVERICKS OF AMERICAN DANCE tells the story of the first quintessentially American dance company, the Joffrey Ballet. Founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino revolutionized American dance by combining modern with traditional ballet to create a new and daring art form. Narrated by Tony and Emmy Award-winner Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), the 90-minute documentary is the first to chronicle the Joffrey Ballet’s pioneering dance philosophy. Award-winning filmmaker Bob Hercules traces the company’s struggles and triumphs: from its humble beginnings in 1956, touring the United States in a borrowed station wagon, to becoming one of the world’s most exciting and prominent ballet companies.
“The Green Table” is an anti-war statement that has transcended times of war: lending itself to each new conflict and each new generation. Created by Kurt Jooss in 1932 for the International Competition of Choreography in Paris, the performance ranges from the closed door meetings of politicians to the battlefield of waring soldiers. It’s both the corruption and the inhumanity of wartime.
In 1967, The Joffrey Ballet was the first American company to revive this pacifist work — for a different war and a different people — and it quickly became a signature performance, giving a socially relevant voice to the company. See it for yourself in an archive Joffrey rehearsal from the 1960s.
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To expand the story beyond what could be included in the film, the producers of Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance started this audio interview series to record the many stories and perspectives from the people who were associated with the Joffrey Ballet over its 56 year history.
Listen to the interviews and go deeper into the history of the company.
They call The Joffrey Ballet “America’s Company of Firsts.”
The first dance company to perform at the White House. The first to appear on television. The first American company to visit Russia. The first classical dance company to go multimedia. The first to commission a rock ‘n’ roll ballet. The first and only dance company to appear on the cover of Time. And the first company to have had a major motion picture based on it, Robert Altman’s The Company.
See The Joffrey’s moments of “firsts” through the years.
The Joffrey’s revival of Leonide Massine’s ‘Parade’.
In 1956, six young dancers made up what was then known as the Robert Joffrey Theater Dancers, an ensemble that toured around the United States in a borrowed station wagon pulling a U-Haul trailer filled with costumes and recorded music. Their mission was to spread an interest in classical ballet to areas that may not have ever seen it performed. Led by fellow dancer and budding choreographer Gerald Arpino, they danced in school gymnasiums, on university campuses and in small town theaters while their namesake stayed behind in New York City to run his studio and make money to pay the dancers’ salaries. From this meager beginning, the company rose to prominence as one of the major forces in American dance.