“When you look at pictures of Gerry Arpino as a young man, it is obvious that his body was perfect for ballet,” says Sarah Anawalt, author of The Joffrey Ballet
, in an interview from the film Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance. Arpino got his start in the art of ballet with Robert Joffrey. “Joffrey and Arpino formed a partnership that would last a lifetime,” Mandy Patinkin says in the film. “They loved each other, and they called each other cousins for a while there, but everyone knew they weren’t,” Anawalt adds.
In 1948, Joffrey and Arpino moved to New York and founded a dance company that rivalled European ballet-inspired American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet and created a truly American ballet company (that is now based in Chicago). “I always felt it was important to represent our country and that we have ballets created by Americans, our American themes, and when possible using American music,” says Joffrey in a 1977 radio interview included in the documentary.
Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance runs from Fri, July 27 to Tues, July 31 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St W. $8 members, $11 regular. bloorcinema.com