By now you know I’m obsessed with Dance…most especially with our very own The Joffrey Ballet! I did a pre-announcement about this once in a hundred years event…THE ARPINO CHICAGO CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION…now here are all the details of this extraordinary two day happening. It is especially meaningful to me since I had the great honor and pleasure of doing fund-raising events with Mr. Arpino on several occasions when I was Fashion/Special Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago. And, of course, I have been thrilled to witness the talent and growth of this fabulous company. The following is the official release on the event…mark your calendar for JUNE 5TH when tickets go on sale. Beyond exciting….I’m sure you agree!
ARPINO CHICAGO CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
SEPT. 23–24 AT THE AUDITORIUM THEATRE:
8 BALLET COMPANIES FROM ACROSS U.S.
PERFORM RANGE OF ARTIST’S WORK
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gerald Arpino, one of the 20th century’s most influential artists, The Gerald Arpino Foundation presents the Arpino Chicago Centennial Celebration as the culminating event of a multiyear salute to this extraordinary choreographer and co-founder/director of The Joffrey Ballet. Performances take place September 23 and 24, 2023 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago.
The two programs, which feature ballet companies from across the U.S. performing works that span Arpino’s lengthy and prolific career, include (in alphabetical order):
Saturday, September 23, 7:30 p.m.American Ballet Theatre (New York): Sea Shadow (1962), set to music by Maurice Ravel, is Arpino’s romantic ode to Ondine, a young man on the beach who is enamored with a shadow from the sea in the guise of a beautiful creature. Photo: Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili of The Joffrey Ballet, photo by Herbert MigdollBallet West (Utah): RUTH, Ricordi per Due (2004) is an elegy to music by Tomasso Albinnoni and Arpino’s final work, commissioned and underwritten by Barbara Levy Kipper in honor of her mother, Ruth Doctoroff Levy. Former Ballet West artists Arolyn Williams (front) and Christopher Ruud, photo by Beau PearsonThe Joffrey Ballet (Illinois): Suite Saint-Saëns is Arpino’s 1978 masterwork, a showcase of classical movement in neoclassical style that epitomized the choreographer’s way of moving in the ’80s—with speed, energy and quality—set to Camille Saint-Saëns. José Pablo Castro Cuevas and Natalit Taht of The Joffrey Ballet, photo by Cheryl MannOklahoma City Ballet (Oklahoma): Birthday Variations (1986) was commissioned by Becky D’Angelo as a birthday present to her husband, Dino, owner of Chicago’s Civic Opera House and a fan of Giuseppe Verdi’s music, featured in this work. Leah Reiter (L) and Flannery Werner of Oklahoma City Ballet, photo by Jana Carson San Francisco Ballet (California): L’Air D’Esprit (1978), set to music from Giselle by Adolphe Adam, is a romantic and classical work in the traditional pas de deux form and a tribute to the ballerina Olga Spessivtzeva, one of Nijinski’s partners before the fall of Czarist Russia. Tina LeBlanc of The Joffrey Ballet, photo by Herbert Migdoll
Sunday, September 24, 1 p.m. (NOTE UPDATED TIME)Ballet West (Utah): Light Rain (1981), which Arpino created for The Joffrey Ballet’s Silver Anniversary to showcase the company’s new young dancers and represent their youth and energy, is set to music by Douglas Adamz and Russ Gauthier and remains among Arpino’s most popular works. Ballet West Principal Artists Emily Adams and Hadriel Diniz, photo by Beau PearsonComplexions Contemporary Ballet (New York): Valentine (1971), set to music by Jacob Druckman, is a quirky and humorous look at the battle of the sexes using a boxing arena as the setting for staccato and contemporary movement. Julianne Spratlin and Fabrice Camels of The Joffrey Ballet, photo by Herbert MigdollEugene Ballet (Oregon): Reflections (1971) is a neoclassical, pure dance ballet and a perfect example of the Arpino style—high lifts, a flying pace and classic beauty. This fast-paced and physically challenging ballet is set to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme for Violoncello and Orchestra.” Yumelia Garcia and Temur Suluashvili of The Joffrey Ballet, photo by Herbert MigdollThe Joffrey Ballet (Illinois): Round of Angels (1983) is an emotional ballet featuring a couple, destined to part, surrounded by five broken-winged angels. Set to the haunting Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, this work is dedicated to the memory of James R. Howell, a Joffrey member and Arpino’s lifelong friend and artistic associate. Victoria Jaiani, Sam Pergande and dancers of The Joffrey Ballet, photo by Herbert MigdollSan Francisco Ballet (California): L’Air D’Esprit (1978), set to music from Giselle by Adolphe Adam, is a romantic and classical work in the traditional pas de deux form and a tribute to the ballerina Olga Spessivtzeva, one of Nijinski’s partners before the fall of Czarist Russia. Tina LeBlanc and Glenn Edgerton of The Joffrey Ballet, photo by Herbert Migdoll.
Gerald Arpino (1923–2008) was a visionary choreographer who, along with Robert Joffrey, created a ballet company and a body of work that has made a singular and enduring impact on American ballet. Throughout his 50-year career, Arpino created nearly 50 ballets for The Joffrey Ballet. From landmark works like Trinity and Round of Angels to Suite Saint-Saëns and Light Rain, Arpino was a masterful artist and entertainer whose work brought audiences to their feet time and again.
The Gerald Arpino Foundation presents
the Arpino Chicago Centennial Celebration
Saturday, September 23 at 7:30 p.m.,
Sunday, September 24 at 1 p.m.
at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago.
Tickets are $45–250; single tickets* go on sale June 5, available at
312.341.2300 and the Auditorium Theatre Box Office.
* Tickets are currently available as part of an Auditorium subscription.
All programming is subject to change.
The Gerald Arpino Foundation is committed to preserving and promoting the choreographic works of Gerald Arpino and Robert Joffrey while maintaining the integrity of their works through the highest level of artistic excellence. The Foundation allows qualified organizations the right to license Arpino’s and Joffrey’s choreographic works and offers repertory workshops, lectures, and master classes to teach a new generation of dancers the choreography and style of Joffrey and Arpino.
For more information, visit arpinofoundation.org.Gerald Arpino by Herbert Migdoll
It is always my pleasure to let you know what is happening in the world of dance in Chicago….and each year I an proud to share the press release announcing the DANCE FOR LIFE event. This annual happening is a not to be missed event. Mark your calendars now, tickets go on sale on JUNE 5th
CHICAGO DANCERS UNITED ANNOUNCES
DANCE FOR LIFE 2023
AUGUST 19 AT THE AUDITORIUM THEATRE
Chicago Dancers United, which supports the health and wellness of Chicago’s professional dance community, announces the program for its 32nd annual fundraiser, Dance for Life, which takes place Saturday, August 19 at 6 p.m. at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago, followed by an afterparty at Venue SIX10, 610 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago.
The complete lineup of artists includes BOOM CRACK! Dance Company, Chicago Tap Allstars, Giordano Dance Chicago with Giordano II and members of South Chicago Dance Theatre, Hiplet Ballerinas, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, freelance performers Joseph Massarelli and Riho Sakamoto, Moonwater Dance Project, Muntu Dance Theatre, and, for the finale, choreographer Randy Duncan.
Dance for Life 2023 Co-Chairs are Ted Grady, Ross Slotten, Victor Alexander, and Maray Gutierrez.
Dance for Life raises money for The Dancers’ Fund, which provides Chicago dance industry professionals with financial support for preventative health care and critical medical needs. The event showcases the city’s unique variety of dance traditions and styles by bringing together professional dance companies and dancers from throughout Chicago, who unite to support their peers by generously donating their time, energy, and artistry. Throughout its history, Dance for Life has presented more than 40 Chicago-based professional dance companies representing a variety of genres, sizes, and histories and numerous choreographers, artists, and designers. An additional beneficiary of Dance for Life is AIDS Foundation Chicago.The Program (in alphabetical order)
BOOM CRACK! Dance Company combines hip hop styles with curated choreography in Decibel, an excerpt from an evening-length production choreographed by Trae Turner with music by Paul Mond. The work explores frequency and emotions attached to sound, with an eclectic score of lo-fi sample-based production, harsh electronic instrumentals, and energetic music.
Chicago Tap Allstars, which features tap dancers from throughout the Chicago area, including from Chicago Tap Theatre and M.A.D.D. Rhythms, performs Birdland, a joyous dance choreographed by Mark Yonally with improvography from the dancers, to the music of Weather Report. Chicago Tap Allstars aims to bring professional tap dancers together in the spirit of community, inclusivity, and excellence.
Giordano Dance Chicago with Giordano II and members of South Chicago Dance Theatre join forces for Luminescence, created by Kia Smith for Giordano’s 60th anniversary season earlier this year. With music by Coldplay and U2, the work is a true celebration of community, collaboration, and light.
Hiplet Ballerinas, the professional company of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, performs React, choreographed by Trevon Lawrence and Anthony Sampson to the music of The Pussycat Dolls. From classical ballet to hip hop, this piece fuses tradition with the energy of dance.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago offers the full company in excerpts from Busk by Aszure Barton, set to music by Daniel Belanger, Ljova, Camille Saint-Saëns, and David Wikander.
The Joffrey Ballet performs excerpts of Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations, which was commissioned by Becky D’Angelo as a birthday present to her husband Dino, who owned Chicago’s Civic Opera House and loved the music of Giuseppe Verdi. Set to Verdi’s infectious opera-ballet music, the work is a sparkling showcase of classical dancing.
Freelance dancers Joseph Massarelli and Riho Sakamoto perform On the Nature of Daylight, a pas de deux choreographed and staged by David Dawson to music by Max Richter. This work explores the idea of love as the ordinary and the extra-ordinary—the many possibilities of finding pure love, a task that binds us as human beings, and a search that happens continually around the world on a daily basis. The piece fully encompasses the idea that love lost remains unforgettable.
Moonwater Dance Project’s work Clarity, choreographed by Hanna Brictson to music by Murcof and Venessa Wagner and Travis Lake, explores the challenge of finding transparency within oneself, taking the performers and viewers on a dynamic journey to discover purity and strength.
Muntu Dance Theatre performs Djeliya, an improvisational work by the dancers that features singing, dancing, and a traditional African drum circle.
For this year’s finale, Randy Duncan revives and expands his world-premiere finale from Dance for Life 2021, As One, with music by Ira Antelis. Created in honor of longtime Dance for Life supporter Harriet Ross, As One drew inspiration from the marches and protests during the pandemic and the hate, but also the love and healing necessary, to survive in this climate.
Chicago Dancers United presents Dance for Life 2023
Saturday, August 19 at 6 p.m.
at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr.,
followed by an afterparty at Venue SIX10, 610 S. Michigan Ave.
Tickets—$500 for the performance and afterparty,
$25–125 for the performance only—
go on sale June 5 at 312.341.2300, auditoriumtheatre.org,
and the Auditorium Theatre Box Office.
Group tickets (10 or more) are available by calling 312.341.2300.
Special presale May 2–June 4:
$125 tickets are on sale for $75 with code DFL2023.
All programming is subject to change.
The mission of Chicago Dancers United is to foster the health and wellness of Chicago’s professional dance community by providing financial support through The Dancers’ Fundfor preventive health care and critical medical needs. Anyone working in or retired from a professional capacity within Chicago’s dance community—dancers, technical staff, administrators, choreographers, instructors, accompanists, and more—is eligible.
For information, visit chicagodancersunited.org.
Photos by Todd Rosenberg.
Top: Arielle Israel.
Bottom: Devin Buchanan (L) and Fernando Duarte
Copyright © 2023 Chicago Dancers United, All rights reserved.