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Robert Joffrey began studying tap dancing but soon turned to ballet with Mary Ann Wells, at whose school in Seattle he met Gerald Arpino, who would one day became his company’s codirector. After moving to New York City in 1948 and studying with Alexandra Fedorova and at the School of American Ballet, Joffrey joined Roland Petit’s Ballets de Paris during the company’s 1949 season in New York City. In 1953 Joffrey opened a school, the American Ballet Center, and by then had already created his first major ballet, Persephone.
Joffrey formed his first small company, the Robert Joffrey Ballet Concert, in 1954, and in 1956 he formed the Robert Joffrey Ballet with Arpino as chief choreographer. In 1966 the company became the City Center Joffrey Ballet and thereafter grew to international fame. Its name was later changed to simply the Joffrey Ballet. By the time of Joffrey’s death his company was performing annually in Los Angeles as well as in New York City. In 1995 Arpino moved the company to Chicago and renamed it the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.
Robert Joffery died in 1988.