HistoryJoffrey Ballet School
Founded in 1953
The Joffrey Ballet School, located in New York City’s Greenwich Village, was founded in 1953 by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino to develop and train professional dancers. The School continues to strive for the founders’ vision of dance based on intensive training that is imbued with a sense of movement, clarity, and exuberant energy.
For more than 57 years, the Joffrey Ballet School has remained on the forefront of American dance education. Graduates of the School have gone on to dance for major classical ballet companies, as well as for numerous modern and contemporary companies, both in the United States and abroad. Joffrey was the first to sanction rock music in a ballet company, beginning with his trailblazing “Astarte” in 1967 and then with “Billboards” set to Prince’s music. The Joffrey Ballet continued its rock ballets by Gerald Arpino, the company’s resident choreographer, as well as Twyla Tharp. Peter Pucci and Margo Sappington, both principal choreographers for the ballet, have taught and choreographed for the Joffrey Ballet School in the past three years.
Joffrey’s talent as a teacher was apparent early in his career; soon after moving to New York City from Seattle, he began teaching at American Ballet Theatre School and the High School for the Performing Arts. In 1956, Joffrey and Arpino founded their first company, which would share a home with the Joffrey Ballet School at 434 Avenue of the Americas, in the same landmark building where the School continues its mission today.
In the 1960’s, talented students as well as world-renowned professionals from both the ballet, modern and postmodern dance worlds flocked to the School to study with Joffrey and other faculty members, including Rudolf Nureyev, Erik Bruhn, Carmen De Lavallade, and Yvonne Rainer. In the citation of the prestigious Capezio Award, conferred on Robert Joffrey in 1974, he is commended as “an ardent spokesman for and a stern but loving guide to youth, be they gifted children, teenage students with dreams, or dedicated young professionals, whom he has served as dancer, teacher, director. The School is a testimony to his merit.”
For over 57 years, Joffrey Ballet School students have graduated and gone on to dance with world-class ballet companies, including the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and other companies throughout North America and Europe. Students and graduates have won countless grants and scholarships, including the pre-eminent Princess Grace Foundation Award. Dancers and choreographers from all over the world regard the Joffrey Ballet School as one of the premiere institutions of dance instruction.
Until recently, the daily operations of the school were overseen by Edith D’Addario, Director of the School since 1962.