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Joffrey dancers

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Just wondering since the Joffrey website doesn't seem to contain any dancer bios, does anyone know where the Joffrey gets most of its dancers from? Does the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC fill the company at all? I am just curious about the dancers and where they trained. What is the best way to get seen by that company?

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The company regularly conducts auditions, which are announced in the major dance magazines, e.g. Dance Magazine and Pointe, and happen in places as announced. The auditions are usually held annually, as company numbers require.

Attending the Joffrey Ballet School is, of course, one of the very best places to be able to hear firsthand what's going on with the company, but you certainly don't have to be a student there to attend auditions.

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Also one may audition if the Joffrey is performing in your city. I know many dancers who have received company contracts as well as apprenticeships this way. Others have flown to Chicago to take company class.

As for what schools...I am sure there are dancers from various professional schools in the US and abroad.

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Oh, yes, indeed! Historically, the Joffrey has allowed select local dancers (usually known to them, or from a known excellent school) to take company class, and sometimes enter the apprentice program from there, or even go right into the company. It's happened! :)

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Joffrey has an audition class in the spring. But any dancer who calls ahead of time to set a date for a visit and brings a resume may take company class as an audition.

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OK, here are some questions I've always wondered about:

1. Why is the company in Chicago - wasn't it at one time in NYC?

2. Why is the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC and not Chicago?

3. Do they have schools in other cities as well - such as San Antonio, or are these places just for their summer programs?

4. Do they ever perform in NYC, anymore?

5. Who is the Artistic Director?

6. Is there a specific "style" of ballet that they perform...I've heard that their school in NYC has a very different style of ballet that they teach...is this true?

Thanks!:)

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To answer briefly (and please elaborate or correct me if I am wrong!)

1. The company moved to Chicago in the mid-90's following a period of financial difficulty. I am not sure, but it is possible it even reincorporated during the move.

2. The Joffrey School itself is a separate entity from the company, and is a private venture. It began in NYC and did not move when the company did. I am sure that the two maintain ties, however.

3. I believe the summer programs do not have schools attached.

4. They have not yet performed in NYC since their move. As I recall, one of the most debilitating financial problems they had was the cost of their NY seasons. Sadly, this is true of almost any company performing in City Center (or NYC, for that matter)

5. Gerald Arpino is the artistic director.

6. This is a subject in and of itself. Personally, I feel like I can recognize a Joffrey trained dancer. I think that can best be answered by observation, though to my eye, Joffrey dancers have a very specific way of using their backs, shoulders and port de bras as well as a very athletic approach to technique.

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Thanks, Leigh, I think you've hit the essentials, as I presently understand them, and any edition or emendation I might make would be purely semantic in nature, without changing the essential facts as you've presented them!:)

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Many thanks, Leigh. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to see a Joffrey performance.:)

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I believe that in their move to chicago, they also renegotiated the way they use stagehands, i.e. went non-union. This is entirely heresay, so please don't quote me on it, but it would explain why a move would be so financially advantageous.

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I don't know that they went non-union, but I do know that IATSE scale for Chicago is a vastly lower number from the one in NYC!

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A few comments on Joffrey from a Chicagoan:

Joffrey's move to Chicago also coincided with the decision of the Ruth Page foundation to discontinue the RP Foundation/Tribune Charities production of the Nutcracker. For years, this production had a lock on Chicago audiences, performing at the Arie Crown Theater. Joffrey's first year here ('94 or '95 I think) they did 23 near sell-out performances of the Joffrey/Arpino choreographed Nutcracker over 2-1/2 weeks at the Rosemont Theater. They continue that schedule now at the Auditorium Theater.

While it's not New York, Chicago does have a healthy appetite for the arts. (The Lyric Opera regularly sells 110% of it's capacity). The business community welcomed a nationally recognized ballet company. ComEd, Sara Lee Foundation, American Airlines, and Philip Morris are among major contributors. ComEd donated a downtown building to Joffrey which will consolidate their administrative offices, rehearsal space, outreach program, and costume shop into 1 facility. Joffrey has secured $20 million in donations to renovate the building once the lease is up on all the current tennants.

Joffrey currently performs at the Auditorium Theater. In Chicago at least, the labor situation is dictated by the venue you are performing at. If it's a union house, you use union labor through the contract that was negotiated by that house. All major theatrical venues in downtown Chicago are union houses, as will be the new Music and Dance Theater currently under construction.

Joffrey also had a "Summer Home" in Colorado - possibly Vail I think. They used to go there for several weeks to rehearse and do several performances. I haven't heard much about it lately - perhaps it was too expensive and they scrapped the program.

Of the three dancers I have met with Joffrey, one went to a regularly scheduled Joffrey audition and was offered a company contract, one attended the Joffrey New School University BFA program, and one auditioned while at college.

BW - just hope that they are not performing Billboards when they come to your area.

G

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Awww, I LIKED Billboards. But I think it was designed specifically to draw in audiences of my generation.

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While I do not live in Chicago, Ann Barzel, long-time critic and the maker of films at the Auditorium Theatre without sound, is venerable testimony of what a ballet location it has always been. In the deBasil-Ballet Russe days, Christmas or New Year's would usually be observed there, and a New Year's Party was recorded for posterity several years in a row.

It also was a place noted for the photographic studio of Maurice Seymour who could make dancers look ravishing, glamourous and everything else to make the heart go pity pat or oh, wow! If you can get ahold of one of the two books of his photographs, you'll understand what I mean.One old

de Basil Company member told me that the photographic sessions usually happened after performances and into the early hours of the morning. Hideous thought, but some of our only records of ballets such as Frederick Ashton's Devil's Holiday are the result of Seymour's passion for ballet.

When The Joffrey Ballet was regrouping after the fight with Rebeckah Harkness, their shakedown venue was The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. My understanding is that the company has been always popular there.

Somewhere on the letterhead or some other roster, I noticed that a board member, as well as Gerald

Arpino are listed as life-time members. After Arpino's fight with members of the Board when the company had a bi-coastal arrangement with Los Angeles, Chicago was a logical choice, and I think that Arpino was very much in favor of the move.

As a San Franciscan, I very much miss the June seasons the Joffrey used to have at the Opera House, sponsored by the San Francisco Symphony.

It was a fiscal win-win situation when the association began, but by the last season that was

not the situation.

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G, your note can be interpreted to suggest that one reason the Joffrey moved here (to Chicago) is because the Ruth Page Foundation was discontinuing its Nutcracker. While it is possible that the Joffrey had several years' advance warning of this event, my recollection is that the company moved here at least two years before the city's traditional production ended its run. I'm pretty sure that the reason the Joffrey presented its Nut out in Rosemont -- a suburb near O'Hare airport, 25 miles from the city center -- is because the Ruth Page version was still being presented at Arie Crown, which is very close to downtown. The Joffrey moved to the Auditorium the same year the other production was discontinued.

I also recollect that they did far fewer performances while at Rosemont -- more like 10. Their first year at the Auditorium they presented the ballet 22 or 23 times, and eventually increased to about 30. (This latter information is based on my daughters' performance schedule in the children's cast.)

But this is all nitpicking. I hope we can agree that the Joffrey production is far, far superior to the Ruth Page version. The latter always struck me as lackluster, possibly due to the fact that it was a pick-up company.

Now, as to BW -- I certainly hope you do get to see the Joffrey perform sometime! I have an extra ticket to "The Taming of the Shrew" in October, if you are really eager ...

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I would love to come out to "the windy city" in October to see The Taming of the Shrew! Thanks so much for asking, but I'm afraid I will just have to see it through your eyes, Treefrog!

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Treefrog - I agree that the Joffrey production is much better in both artistic and production values than the Ruth Page production.

I didn't mean to imply that Joffrey moved to Chicago just because there was a Nutcracker opening in the Chicago dance scene. I think they moved to become the biggest fish in a smaller pond. But their timing was perfect.

McCormick Place expansion had been approved, and Arie Crown Theater was scheduled for long term remodeling. Even if Ruth Page had continued their production, they would have had to change venues to a more expensive theater. And I had been told that one of the reasons they decided to halt the production was that Chicago Tribune Charities was going to discontinue their sponsorship. In my opinion, they would have not been able to afford to continue at another venue.

I don't think any of this would have played into Joffrey's decision to move here, but I do think it has greatly helped with their financial stability.

My recollection is that Joffrey's first season at the new Rosemont Theater had approximately 19 performances. It was a long enough run that they still had 2 seperate children's casts to alternate performances (my daughter was in it that year).

G

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G, I think we can also agree that everyone came out ahead in terms of venue. Neither Arie Crown nor Rosemont -- sterile, modern facilities -- can match the feel of the 1890's Auditorium Theatre, particularly for the Nutcracker.

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i performed in the ruth page production at arie crown theater for 5 or 6 years...

my recollection is that G is correct...

the joffery's relocation to the windy city was most fortuitous, timing-wise (and otherwise)...

there was an overlap of both nutcrackers for a couple of years...and...i also recall that chicago tribune charities withdrew their sponsorship of the ruth page production...irrespective of the reasons for such withdrawal...there is no question that chicago audiences love the joffery production, as it is wonderful...

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