Thursday, October 30, 2008

Co-founder of Joffrey Ballet dies

CHICAGO – Gerald Arpino, who co-founded the Joffrey Ballet and oversaw its move from New York to Chicago, has died. He was 85.

Ballet spokeswoman Beth Silverman says Arpino died Wednesday morning in Chicago after a prolonged illness. She didn't immediately have any details.

Arpino was a dancer and choreographer when he established the troupe in 1956 with its namesake, the late Robert Joffrey.

The Joffrey has became known for commissioning groundbreaking young choreographers, performing socially relevant pieces and reconstructing "lost" ballets of the early 20th century.

In its previous base of New York, the Joffrey often struggled for funding in the shadow of the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. It moved to Chicago in 1995.

Arpino became the Joffrey's artistic director emeritus in July 2007.

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