Founded by Robert Joffrey, The Joffrey Workshop has been educating dancers since 1978. It is our mission to provide a welcoming space for all students.
We share the importance of tradition in concert dance through our in-studio dance workshops. Our focus in concert dance is not a statement on the value of other techniques. The Joffrey Workshop was founded in these classes, our knowledge of them is our strength, and we feel confident in delivering them to our students.
Additionally, our dress codes have been updated to make BIPOC and gender nonconforming students feel honored and welcome and to reflect what is being done in professional dance companies.
We are grateful for the support as we continue to grow and evolve.
Robert Joffrey (1930-1988) was an American dancer, teacher, choreographer, founder and Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet, who dedicated his life to building a uniquely American ballet company with an unmatched repertory and exceptional dancers. His contributions to dance include meticulous reconstructions of Ballet Russes works and revivals of 20th-century masterpieces by choreographers such as Kurt Jooss and Frederick Ashton. He took risks with commissions from modern and postmodern choreographers such as
Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp that broke the rigid boundaries between ballet and modern dance, a model still central to the creative process of ballet companies around the world today. An accomplished choreographer in his own right, Joffrey created works that reflected his broad interests, including the Romantic era-inspired Pas des Déesses (1954), and the ground-breaking multimedia rock ballet Astarte (1967).
Joffrey was also a master teacher whose progressive approach attracted both young dancers and world-renown artists alike, including Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, Carmen de Lavallade, and Ann Reinking. He was co-president with Bolshoi Ballet director Yuri Grigorovich of the dance committee of the International Theater Institute, chair of the first panel of jurors for the International Ballet Competition, a member of the National Council of the Arts, and an 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, 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.
Gerald Arpino (1923-2008) was the Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of The Joffrey Ballet, the company he co-founded with Robert Joffrey in 1956. Born on Staten Island, New York, he met Robert Joffrey while stationed in Seattle with the Coast Guard. He studied with Mary Ann Wells, at the School of American Ballet, danced with Graham dancers May O’Donnell and Gertrude Schurr, and was a principal dancer with the original Joffrey company. As resident choreographer, Arpino created over one third of the commissioned repertory for the Joffrey Ballet, including Sea Shadow, Viva Vivaldi, Olympics, The Clowns, Trinity, Kettentanz, Suite Saint-Saens, and Light Rain. He also had wide experience in Broadway musicals, on television, in opera, and staged musicals for the country’s leading festivals. Arpino’s ballets have been performed at the White House on several occasions, as well as around the world, to critical acclaim as well as controversial appraisal. As one of the recipients of the 1974 Dance Magazine Award, his citation read: “To Gerald Arpino – more than any other choreographer, he has recognized the spirit of the times. His work speaks clearly of the anguish and the joy of being young in America today.”
Upon Robert Joffrey’s passing, Arpino directed the Joffrey Ballet from 1988 until 2008, continuing Joffrey’s vision for the company by restaging important dance historical works, such as Léonide Massine’s symphonic ballet Les Presages (1933), and Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella (1948), as well as taking risks with new commissions such as the rock ballet Billboards (1993) to music by Prince. In 1995, Arpino moved the Joffrey Ballet to Chicago, where he established the Joffrey as a world-class company in the heart of the American Midwest, which continues to thrive today.