Gerald Arpino (1923-2008) was the Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of The Joffrey Ballet, the company he co-founded with Robert Joffrey in 1956. Born on Staten Island, New York, he met Robert Joffrey while stationed in Seattle with the Coast Guard. He studied with Mary Ann Wells, at the School of American Ballet, danced with Graham dancers May O’Donnell and Gertrude Schurr, and was a principal dancer with the original Joffrey company.
As resident choreographer, Arpino created over one third of the commissioned repertory for the Joffrey Ballet, including Sea Shadow, Viva Vivaldi, Olympics, The Clowns, Trinity, Kettentanz, Suite Saint-Saens, and Light Rain. He also had wide experience in Broadway musicals, on television, in opera, and staged musicals for the country’s leading festivals. Arpino’s ballets have been performed at the White House on several occasions, as well as around the world, to critical acclaim as well as controversial appraisal. So varied was his output, that one critic commented, “He’s not a single artist. He must be an alliance.” As one of the recipients of the 1974 Dance Magazine Award, his citation read: “To Gerald Arpino – more than any other choreographer, he has recognized the spirit of the times. His work speaks clearly of the anguish and the joy of being young in America today.”
Upon Robert Joffrey’s passing, Arpino directed the Joffrey Ballet from 1988 until 2008, continuing Joffrey’s vision for the company by restaging important dance historical works, such as Léonide Massine’s symphonic ballet Les Presages (1933), and Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella (1948), as well as taking risks with new commissions such as the rock ballet Billboards (1993) to music by Prince. In 1995, Arpino moved the Joffrey Ballet to Chicago, where he established the Joffrey as a world-class company in the heart of the American Midwest, which continues to thrive today.
Nicole Duffy Robertson
NICOLE DUFFY ROBERTSON is a co-founder and Associate Artistic Director of the New York Dance Project. She danced with the Joffrey Ballet for over a decade, based both in New York and Chicago, performing works by Joffrey, Arpino, Ashton, Balanchine, Cranko, DeMille, Limon, Massine, and Nijinska, among many others. She is a répétiteur for The Gerald Arpino Foundation, most recently staging Arpino’s Light Rain and assisting Trinette Singleton in the reconstruction of Robert Joffrey’s Gamelan. She teaches nationally and internationally, and is on the faculty of the Ballet Hispanico School, Marymount Manhattan College, and a guest teacher at STEPS on Broadway.
Ms. Duffy was raised in Puerto Rico, where she began her training with Ana Garcia and Maria Carrera at Ballets de San Juan, dancing the classical repertory. She has a B.A. in Art History from Columbia University, and is a master’s candidate at New York University’s Gallatin School, researching Leonide Massine’s collaborations in the 1930s. Her writing has been published in The Massachussetts Review, Eye on Dance and the Arts, and the NYU journal Esferas.