It was a packed house last week at the premiere of the feature length documentary Joffery: Mavericks of American Dance at the Zipper Concert Hall in the Colburn School. The film was the first of its kind to chronicle how the legendary Joffery Ballet came into existence and became the revolutionary dance company it is today.
I was captivated, moved and thoroughly entertained throughout the 90 minute film which interweaves archival footage, behind the scenes photos and interviews with current and past Joffery dancers. The Chicago-based dance company was started by Robert Joffery and Gerald Arpino in the mid 1950’s and was once a part of the localLos Angelesdance scene. The documentary tells the story of their rise to fame, complete with all of the trials and triumphs along the way.
There was a Q&A immediately following the film, moderated by Sasha Anawalt, Director, Arts Journalism Programs at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, with panelists Leslie Carothers-Aromaa, Artistic Director of the Colburn School’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, Carole Valleskey, Founder and Director of CDI, Francoise Martinet Moriarty, former Joffrey dancer from the company’s earliest days in the late 1950s, and Jodie Gates, Artistic Director of the Laguna Beach Dance Festival, Associate Professor of Dance at UC Irvine and former Joffrey principal dancer.
It was touching to witness the enormous amount of respect the dancers had for both Robert Joffery and Gerald Arpino. The untimely passing of Joffery (he was only 57) weighed heavy on the hearts of all those lives he touched; the tears that were shed as they remembered him were fresh and real.
This is definitely a film not to be missed. If you are a dancer, an art lover, or a lover of any kind, you will want to run out and see this heart-warming story of how hard work, persistence and a passionate love for the arts can enrich our lives.
Image courtesy of Joffrey:Mavericks of American Dance