Gerald Arpino was born in Staten Island, New York, and died in 2008 in Chicago. He received his early dance training in Seattle by Mary Ann Wells. He co-founded The Joffrey Ballet with Robert Joffrey in 1956 and served as Associate Director for many years. Upon Joffrey's death in 1988, Arpino succeeded him as Artistic Director. In 1995, he moved The Joffrey Ballet to Chicago.
A leading dancer with the company in its early years, Arpino choreographed his first work for The Joffrey, Ropes, in 1961. Shortly thereafter, he became The Joffrey's resident choreographer and to date has created more than one-third of the company's repertoire. His amazingly diverse work ranges from social commentary to pure dance gems. His ballets are in the repertoires of companies around the world.
Arpino is the first choreographer commissioned to create a ballet honoring the Office of the American Presidency: The Pantages and the Palace Present Two-A-Day. He was the first American commissioned to choreograph a ballet for a city, San Antonio, Jamboree. In 1993, Arpino produced America's first full-evening rock ballet, Billboards, set to the music of Prince. In addition, Arpino is the only choreographer to have had four of his ballets performed at the White House.
Arpino served on numerous boards and councils including the national advisory council of the ITI/USA International Ballet Competition and the board of the Dance Notation Bureau. He was a member of the Arts Advisory Committee of the New York International Festival of the Arts. He served as an advisor to the Artists Committee for The Kennedy Center Honors. He was a member of the Board of The Chicago Academy For The Arts. Among many awards and tributes, he held honorary doctorates from The College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and Wagner College. He was a recipient of the 1974 Dance Magazine award and the Vaslav Nijinsky Medal. He was honored twice by the Chicago Tribune as one of the "Chicagoans of the Year" for his important contribution to the arts in Chicago and the world.
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