Robert Joffrey



Robert Joffrey was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1930 and died in New York City in 1988. In 1956, he founded The Joffrey Ballet, an ensemble of American dancers for whom he choreographed, taught, commissioned original ballets, and reconstructed rare classics. In the process, he built what is now acknowledged as one of the major international dance companies, a company cited for its virtuosity and exciting, original repertoire.


Joffrey discovered and introduced innumerable modern dance choreographers to ballet audiences. He was the first American director to present the work of Denmark's Auguste Bournonville, and he was especially noted for his meticulous recreations of the legendary Diaghilev-era ballets. He invited great living ballet choreographers to revive some of their "lost" masterworks and in the process, assembled one the largest and most diverse repertoires in the world. His own ballets indicate his varied interests, from the classical Pas Des Déesses to the multimedia Astarte, the romantic Remembrances to the evocative Postcards.


Joffrey was a master teacher with an eye for talent. Although he gave up a promising career as a dancer to form his company, he maintained his early interest in training gifted students and young professionals through The Joffrey Ballet School, which he established in 1953, and The Joffrey Workshop in San Antonio, founded in 1977. Additionally, he was a guest teacher at festivals around the country.


Among his many dance affiliations, he was co-president with Bolshoi Ballet director Yuri Grigorovich of the International Dance Committee, International Theatre Institute, one of three jurors of Denmark's Hans Christian Andersen Ballet Awards, a member of the National Council of the Arts, and honorary chairman of the American Choreographer Awards. His numerous awards and honors included the Dance Magazine Award, the Capezio Award, New York City's Handel Medallion, Club 100's Distinguished Artist's Award (L.A. Music Center), Dance Notation Bureau's Distinguished Service Award, and an honorary Ph.D. from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. In 2000, he was inducted into The National Dance Museum.