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Joffrey Ballet Co-founder Dies

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The co-founder of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet died today. Gerald Arpino had prostate cancer.

NOTE: A memorial service is planned for Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. at The Joffrey Ballet, Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph St., Chicago.

Gerald Arpino started the ballet in 1956 in New York with Robert Joffrey. During the early years, Joffrey remained behind to teach ballet, while Arpino hit the road. He led the troupe across America, pulling a U-Haul with a station wagon.

The Joffrey’s current Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater, says Arpino made the dance world a richer place.

WHEATER: He made dance accessible to people who were not aficionados of ballet. He knew what the value of entertaining an audience was, and he wasn’t afraid to try many different things, and use different music and different ideas.

Arpino became artistic director after Joffrey’s death. He’s credited with helping the ballet company overcome rocky financial times, and overseeing its permanent move to Chicago.

Wheater says Arpino was a lovable and feisty man, who made time for everyone in the company. Arpino was 85.

I’m Lynette Kalsnes, Chicago Public Radio.

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