Mavericks of American Dance

The Joffrey Mission

The Joffrey Ballet believes in the positive, transformative power of the arts. Our mission is to promote dance through an unwavering commitment to high-quality performances, education, and innovation. 

Values of IDEA—Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access

As a member of Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, The Joffrey Ballet has adopted Dance/USA’s statement on core values of equity and inclusion

History of The Joffrey Ballet

In 1956, a time during which most touring companies performed only reduced versions of ballet classics, Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino formed a six-dancer ensemble that toured the country in an old station wagon pulling a U-Haul trailer.

Over the next 65 years, the Joffrey moved from city to city, stage to stage, brandishing a reputation as America’s Company of Firsts. The Joffrey Ballet was the first dance company to perform at the White House at Jacqueline Kennedy’s invitation, the first to appear on American television, the first classical dance company to use multi-media, the first to create a ballet set to rock music, the first to appear on the cover of TIME Magazine (Astarte), and the first company to have a major motion picture based on its origins (Robert Altman’s The Company). 

In 1995, the Company took up permanent residence in Chicago—the Joffrey’s home for the last quarter-century—and blazed a path forward as a Chicago icon. In October 2007, following the retirement of former Artistic Director and Joffrey Co-Founder Gerald Arpino, former Joffrey Artist Ashley Wheater became the third Artistic Director in the Company’s storied history. Six years later, the Joffrey named longtime Chicago arts leader Greg Cameron as its new Executive Director, later appointing Cameron to President and Chief Executive Officer in 2018. Wheater and Cameron’s tenure together has been marked by critical and box office success, raising the organization’s status among peer institutions across the globe. 

The Joffrey’s 2019–2020 season ushered in a new era, as the Joffrey presented the world premiere of a new story ballet based on the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, with commissioned music by composer Ilya Demutsky, the world premiere of Anna Karenina marked the first original full-length story ballet that featured an original composition in the Joffrey’s history.

Today, The Joffrey Ballet ranks among the top dance companies in the world, presenting an annual home performance season in Chicago and touring performances nationally and internationally.

Mavericks of American Dance

Learn more about the Joffrey’s origins in this 2012 documentary from PBS and American Masters.

The original members of Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino’s The Joffrey Ballet. Clockwise from top, Glen Tetley, Dianne Consoer, Gerald Arpino (dancer and co-founder), Brunilda Ruiz, Robert Joffrey (co-founder), John Wilson, and, center, Beatrice Tompkins.
Trinette Singleton in Astarte, 1969, created by Robert Joffrey and widely heralded as one of the first multi-media ballets. Astarte was the subject of a cover for TIME Magazine.  
Joffrey Artist Victoria Jaiani in the title role of Anna Karenina, 2019, the Joffrey’s first-ever commission of a full-length, world premiere production with original music.