American Masters: Joffrey: Mavericks Of American Dance
Airs Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 at 9 p.m. & Sunday, Dec. 30 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV
Monday, December 17, 2012
AMERICAN MASTERS "Joffrey: Mavericks Of American Dance," premiering nationally December 2012, tells the story of the first quintessentially American dance company, the Joffrey Ballet. Founders Robert Joffrey (12/24/1930 – 3/25/1988) and Gerald Arpino (1/14/1923 – 10/29/2008) revolutionized American dance by combining modern with traditional ballet to create a new and daring art form.
Award-winning filmmaker Bob Hercules traces the company’s struggles and triumphs: from its humble beginnings in 1956, touring the United States in a borrowed station wagon, to becoming one of the world’s most exciting and prominent ballet companies.
Using rare archival footage and behind-the-scenes photos, "Joffrey: Mavericks Of American Dance" features excerpts from signature company works, including "Astarte," "Trinity" and "Billboards" (the latter with music by Prince) as well as its breakthrough collaborations with legendary choreographers Kurt Jooss ("The Green Table") and Leonide Massine ("Parade").
The Joffrey Ballet also commissioned early works by Twyla Tharp ("Deuce Coupe," "As Time Goes By"), Laura Dean ("Night," "Creative Force") and Margo Sappington ("Weewis," "Face Dances"), introducing these innovative choreographers to larger audiences.
"Joffrey: Mavericks Of American Dance" illustrates the dynamic trajectory of the groundbreaking company through archival interviews with Joffrey and Arpino and original interviews with former and current Joffrey star dancers and ballet notables, including Gary Chryst, Trinette Singleton, Helgi Tomasson, Kevin McKenzie, Ashley Wheater, Christian Holder, Francoise Martinet, Davis Robertson, and Adam Sklute.
These insiders describe what it was like to be a part of the company, Joffrey’s and Arpino’s different teaching styles, and how the Joffrey Ballet broke barriers by: accepting and cultivating a diverse group of talented dancers regardless of race and body type, integrating pop and rock music scores and art with social commentary, and resurrecting nearly lost early 20th Century masterpieces.
They also explain how the company repeatedly resurrected itself after devastating financial and artistic setbacks such as the Rebekah Harkness funding power struggle, National Endowment for the Arts cutbacks, Joffrey’s death, and the move from New York City to Chicago in 1995.
“The Joffrey’s history is exciting, accessible and a great lesson to us all about the power of creative risk-taking and artistic collaboration,” says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of AMERICAN MASTERS.