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Gerald Arpino, RIP

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I am so saddened by this news. Joffrey Ballet re-introduced me to so much; first on those many early "Dance in America" performances, and later live when they would come to L.A. for 2wks every year. I remember being stunned and overjoyed to see so many works that I had yearned to know...

* The revivials (reconstructions?) of "Petrushka" and "Parade" (and didn't they do Nijinsky's " Jeux" and "...Faun" too? or was it just Nureyev?)

* John Cranko's "Taming of the Shrew" and "Romeo & Juliet".

* And of course Arpino's works as well. To this day, and from the first moment I saw it, "Round of Angels" is still my favorite neoclassical/contemporary ballet. There are many others that I admire, but that's the one that reaches deepest.

I will also not forget the time he personally wrote me back, after I had filled out one of those survey cards with a very long complaint about rep & reps (ie. shuffling, & repeating scheduled works too many times in a week) and lack of depth in casting. Of course I didn't realize the financial crisis that was occuring at that time. But I will never forget that was the first time anyone that important in the dance world had ever listened to me and responded.

And finally, one of my favorite teachers was a former dancer with his company.

Dear Mr. Arpino RIP. I will not forget you or the company you and Mr. Joffrey created.

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Talk about ambivalence.

While I am certainly sorry to receive this news, Gerry did live a long and productive life, and leaves some fine ballets behind him. At the same time, I hope that somebody helped him draw up his will so that he didn't leave the rights to those ballets to the goddess Isis, or somebody else equally unreachable, or maybe to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine - not to the Dean, Chapter and Trustees, but to the BUILDING! He enjoyed being difficult like that. The obits hedge somewhat on the cause of death. I have this sneaking suspicion that he had intentionally contracted pneumonia, just to frustrate his doctors who were treating him for prostate cancer.

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I heard from a good friend who went to Arpino's final tribute. She had mentioned she was a little sad that it was a little uncharacteristic of representing who Arpino was as a person/director. The only eulogy that touched upon who he was as a person was Shelly Zide, speaking of his courage. The company performed, apparently very under rehearsed, three ballets: Light Rain, Round of Angels, and the last movement from Trinity. The famous lighted candles effect on the stage was ruined by a dancer accidentally knocking down many of the candles. My friend thought she could see Arpino rolling his eyes over that one.

Uncharacteristically or not, there goes a tribute to lay closure to a special generation of choreographer that made good use of the sixty's energetic, sensual, and colorful mood.

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It's Arpino's centenary year (born January 14, 1923). An appreciation by Lauren Warnecke in Dance Magazine.


Arpino would have turned 100 in January. To mark the occasion, The Gerald Arpino Foundation tapped Joffrey Ballet alumni to revive Arpino works at The Joffrey, Ballet West, San Francisco Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Oklahoma City Ballet, and Eugene Ballet, as well as at university dance programs throughout the country. Artists from those companies will convene at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre September 23 and 24 for a centennial celebration, performing an all-Arpino program......

“I was very excited to be called to learn all these things,” Sklute says—though being chosen by Arpino didn’t necessarily mean being showered with praise. “The first thing Mr. Arpino ever said to me was, ‘Hey, you, with the spatulas at the end of your legs. Get out of my sight.’ A lot of people might have felt crushed about that comment. All I could think of was, Oh, my goodness, he noticed me!”


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