Announcing

Celebrated Works in the Spotlight
Throughout ’22-23 and ’23-24 Seasons
Culminating September ’23 at Chicago’s
Auditorium Theatre

To honor the 100th birthday of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists, The Gerald Arpino Foundation announces a multi-year Centennial Celebration of the late choreographer’s life and works. Ballet companies and university dance programs around the country will perform Arpino’s works during the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons. The culminating Chicago Centennial Celebration performances take place September 23 and 24 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive.

Arpino was a visionary dancer and 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 Foundation is providing ballet companies nationwide with special licensing agreements to broaden and deepen the celebration at their home performance locations during the coming two seasons. The Foundation will offer lectures and workshops on Arpino’s life and work, in conjunction with some companies and universities. Among those participating to date are:

Check here for the latest updates: arpinofoundation.org. All programming is subject to change.

Arpino Centennial Spotlight:
Valerie Madonia and Daniel Baudendistel

Excerpt of Arpino’s Light Rain pas de deux danced by Valerie Madonia and Daniel Baudendistel. Click here.

The Lake Tahoe Dance Collective has as its mission to promote classical, modern, and contemporary dance of the finest quality in the Lake Tahoe area through performance, education, and outreach, enriching the community as a whole and as a cultural destination. What started as Tahoe Youth Ballet in 2009 with a single performance has become a company and school that presents a range of performances for Lake Tahoe audiences throughout the year, including its own productions as well as visiting dance companies.

The Lake Tahoe Dance Festival’s 10th Anniversary Celebration takes place July 27–29, and the program includes a pas de deux from Arpino’s Light Rain, performed by Ethan Price and Kate Loxtercamp of Ballet Arizona. Staging the work are Daniel Baudendistel and Valerie Madonia, who danced the work themselves, under Arpino’s direction, in the mid ’90s—you can see an excerpt of a performance featuring them (above) and in rehearsal with Arpino (below). Excerpt of Arpino in rehearsal working with Valerie Madonia and Daniel Baudendistel. Click here.

Valerie Madonia danced professionally for 20 years, including with the National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, and The Joffrey Ballet. She toured Southwestern Colorado with her own project-based company, Alpine Dance, Inc. and co-produced and directed a five-year residency between the Joffrey and the Telluride Society for Performing Arts. Madonia has been teaching, directing, and choreographing for 25 years, most notably for the New School University, Joffrey Ballet School, and Colorado Ballet. She is currently guest teaching for American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey School Trainee program in New York.

Valerie Madonia’s thoughts and recollections:
What is your personal history performing Arpino works? 
I first saw Arpino’s Kettentanz performed by The National Ballet of Canada in the late 1970s as a student in the school there. It was through this work that I fell in love with contemporary ballet. After dancing seven years in some of the most classical ballet companies (The National Ballet of Canada and American Ballet Theatre), I wanted a freedom and joy that I wasn’t finding in the classical roles I was offered and so auditioned for The Joffrey Ballet. I went to see the company at City Center and was truly dazzled by Arpino’s Light Rain and felt immediately that this was the right company for me.
A couple months later, my first day in the studio with the company was with Arpino and a revival of The Clowns ballet. Each of his works was so differently stylized but each carried an honest commitment to his vision. Though I wasn’t challenged physically by The Clowns, I quickly caught on to the contagious effervescence that surrounded Mr. Arpino and found myself strutting en pointe like a chicken as one of his post-apocalyptic clowns. That same year, I was one of three dancers called to the studio as he created the Snow and Flowers scenes for Joffrey’s Victorian Nutcracker.
In my 10 years with the Joffrey, I performed the central pas de deux in Arpino’s Sea Shadow, Round of Angels, Light Rain, Viva Vivaldi, Italian Suite, Trinity, Nutcracker “Snow,” and, as a soloist, in Reflections, Suite Saint-Saëns, and “Waltz of the Flowers.” In 1990, Daniel Baudendistel and I spent many hours in the studio with Mr. Arpino as he started creating a new pas de deux that was tentatively called, The Kiss. 

What does it mean to you to stage this work on Ballet Arizona dancers as we celebrate Mr. Arpino’s centennial? 
Daniel and I spent many, many hours in the studio, often alone together on weekends, analyzing the nuances of the stylized choreography of Light Rain pas de deux and working tirelessly on making the partnering seamless. Arpino was one of my mentors, artistic supporters, and a director who shaped me as a dance artist. Passing on his work to younger generations is an honor and keeps his legacy alive in the beautiful tradition of mentor to acolyte.

How would you describe the Arpino style? What are some distinctive elements of his choreography?
Each of Arpino’s ballets have a flavor that dictates movement and theatricality. He loved to augment his choreography by adding magic in the form of flower petals, glitter, mirrors, smoke.
Arpino liked elongated lines, exaggerated arms, movement initiated from the torso, fast footwork, exciting entrances and exits, pulling off balance, stylized running, and always fluttering bourrées!

How does dancing Arpino ballets prepare a dancer for other types of repertory?
His ballets require great stamina since there is never a moment on stage where one stands still and waits for the next step. His work teaches the dancer to cover as much space as possible, never “mincing” a step but giving value to everything.
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Daniel Baudendistel danced with American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. He won First Place at the Saint Sauveur International Choreographic Competition and appeared on Russian television dancing at the Kremlin Palace, with Gala Des Etoiles in Montreal, with the BBC of London, and in the documentary “Ballet Russes.” Baudendistel has directed and choreographed for the Hiroshima Opera Company and was Professor of Dance at the New School University Eugene Lang College in New York City. This is his 10th year teaching at The School of Ballet Arizona, and he has performed with the company in Don Quixote, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sleeping Beauty, and Romeo & Juliet.

Daniel Baudendistel’s thoughts and recollections:
I joined The Joffrey Ballet in 1981 and almost immediately I was called to a rehearsal of Gerald Arpino’s Light Rain. I was an understudy for the opening pas de trois. Little did I know at the time how important this ballet would become for me. What I came to understand after being in the company for a while was that Arpino’s “style” was really about collaboration. When he was working on a ballet the dancers were encouraged to come up with movements and when he saw something he liked he would put that into the ballet. It was fun, but also rewarding to have your ideas embraced, and I remember liking the style of this particular ballet very much. I ended up leaving the Joffrey before I ever got the chance to dance Light Rain, but, strangely enough, about 10 years later I rejoined the company and began a long and fruitful partnership with Valerie Madonia. Valerie had been in American Ballet Theatre, the company I joined after leaving the Joffrey. We had the privilege of dancing many Arpino ballets together. His partnering work required quite a bit of strength because much of it involved manipulating the woman on and off her balance or lifting her barely off the floor and covering space. James Canfield and Pat Miller had a very special feeling when they danced together, and they were largely responsible for what came to symbolize Arpino’s work. His greatest gift, I believe, was being able to bring out the best in young dancers and take from their strengths.

I am honored to be staging Light Rain with two beautiful dancers from Ballet Arizona. It has been a wonderful time to revisit a work that was such a rewarding part of my life as a dancer and to pass those rewards on to a new generation of dancers.

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Arpino Centennial Spotlight:
Tina LeBlanc

Arpino’s L’Air D’Espirit: Tina LeBlanc and Glenn Edgerton
photo credit: Herbert Migdoll

Throughout this year and the next two seasons, The Gerald Arpino Foundation is celebrating the legendary choreographer’s 100th birthday through special licensing agreements with ballet companies and university dance programs around the country. We’ll be sharing occasional “spotlights” on some of these performances as we build excitement toward the culminating Chicago Centennial Celebration in September 2023 at the Auditorium Theatre.

Universal Ballet Competition (UBC) is a premier student ballet competition that has expanded into eight major metropolitan cities in the U.S. due to its growing popularity among dancers, studio directors, and the ballet community. Founding members Lissette Salgado and David Lucas, former principal dancers of the Joffrey Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, have recruited globally renowned dancers, company directors, and ballet school directors to judge, mentor, and teach the master classes during each UBC competition. Since its first season, UBC has hosted and mentored more than 10,000 dancers and awarded more than $3 million in scholarships.

On May 30, UBC is hosting a Gala event in Jacksonville, Florida that features Arpino’s L’Air D’Espirit, performed by Misa Kuranaga and Joseph Walsh of San Francisco Ballet, staged by Tina LeBlanc. L’Air D’Espirit, premiered in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre on Feb 9, 1973, danced by Francesca Corkle and Glenn White. The ballet evokes the feminine aura of the great ballerina Olga Spessivtseva, best known for her ethereal performances of Giselle in the Diaghilev era. We interviewed Tina as she shared her thoughts about Mr. Arpino and more.

What is your personal history performing Arpino works? 

I joined Joffrey II when I was 15 and was fortunate to have some of my own roles even before I joined the main company—I did every young girl role. Some of the Arpino works I performed were Confetti, Kettentanz, Birthday Variations, Suite Saint-Saëns, Light Rain, Viva Vivaldi, L’Air D’Espirit, Clowns, Reflections, and a few that are perhaps less prominent, like The Pantages and the Palace Present “Two-A-Day”, a throwback to vaudeville, and Jamboree, a tribute to San Antonio.

For Kettentanz I remember getting ready in the wings to enter; we were a line of about 12 people, six couples, with our hands on each other’s shoulders, and we’d come in like a snake. As we listened to the intro, we’d say, “OK chain gang! Let’s have a good show!” It was technically difficult, but really beautiful.

L’Air is very close to my heart, one of my favorites while I was dancing. Glenn Edgerton was my first partner, and I also danced it with Tom Mossbrucker.

Reflections was the first slow pas de deux I did with Joffrey—and it was with Ashley Wheater, now the director of the Joffrey.

What does it mean to you to stage the work on San Francisco Ballet dancers as we celebrate Mr. Arpino’s centennial?

It’s been nice to revisit it, hone it a bit more. The older you get the more you learn, and I wish I could go back and do it the way I think now. It’s been really nice to go through it with new dancers who are completely unfamiliar with Arpino’s works and shape it the way I think it should be. Misa and Joseph are in a very good place; they’re beautiful dancers.

How would you describe the Arpino style? What are some distinctive elements of his choreography?

Two words that stand out in my mind are energy and dynamics. His pieces always have them—or as he would put it, “Za, baby! You gotta have za!”—which meant dynamics in my mind. As far as Mr. Arpino himself—in that movie The Company, Malcolm McDowell’s character was spot on.

How does dancing Arpino ballets prepare a dancer for other types of repertory? 

Because they are technically demanding and need a lot of stamina—at least the pieces I did—if you can master this form, you can pretty much do anything. It teaches you how to pace yourself, the musicality, the dynamics. It’s a well-rounded way to approach any piece if you use pacing, musicality, and dynamics. 

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Performances

Questions About Licensing?

2022

JULY

Lake Tahoe Dance Festival
Light Rain pas de deux

JUNE

Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell, Stars of American Ballet
Light Rain pas de deux

MAY

Universal Ballet Competition
L’Air D’Espirit

APRIL

Ballet Arkansas
Confetti

MARCH

Fort Wayne Ballet
Light Rain, Ruth Ricordi Per Due

Joffrey Ballet
Birthday Variations

Madison Ballet
Birthday Variations

Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell, Stars of American Ballet
Light Rain pas de deux

FEBRUARY

Dayton Ballet
Light Rain

2021

JANUARY

Ballet Ensemble of Texas
Confetti 

FEBRUARY

Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami
RUTH, Ricordi per Due

JULY

Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami
Touch Me

OCTOBER

Joffrey Ballet
Birthday Variations

2020

MARCH

New York Dance Project
Confetti 

JULY

A Virtual Robert Joffrey Masterclass I
Lecture Demonstration part 1

SEPTEMBER

A Virtual Robert Joffrey Masterclass II

NOVEMBER

A Virtual Robert Joffrey Masterclass III

DECEMBER

NY Dance Project
Birthday Variations

2019

FEBRUARY

Butler Ballet
Light Rain

Dayton Ballet
Trinity

Nevada Ballet Theatre
Light Rain, pas de deux

Saint Louis Ballet
Reflections and Light Rain pas de deux

APRIL

Eugene Ballet
Italian Suite

Oklahoma City Ballet
Pas de Deesses

Walnut Hill School for the Arts
Birthday Variations

MAY

Ballets de San Juan
Birthday Variations

New Albany Ballet
Viva Vivaldi, 2nd movement

NOV

New Zealand School of Dance
Round of Angels

2018

FEBRUARY

Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City, UT
Viva Vivaldi! excerpts

MARCH

American Repertory Ballet
Sea Shadow

New York Dance Project
Birthday Variations

Franklin School for the Performing Arts
Birthday Variations

APRIL

Classical Dance Center, CA
Italian Suite, solo

MAY

Marymount Manhattan College, NY
Light Rain

JUNE

Joffrey Ballet
Round of Angels

Eglevsky Ballet
Viva Vivaldi!, excerpts

AUGUST

Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami
Light Rain pas de deux

SEPTEMBER

Fort Wayne Ballet
Light Rain, Pas de Deesses

OCTOBER

New York Dance Project
Gamelan(excerpts), Viva Vivaldi(excerpts)

City Ballet of Boston
Birthday Variations

NOVEMBER

Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami
Reflections

DECEMBER

Wayne State University
Valentine

Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati
Birthday Variations

2017

FEBRUARY

Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City, UT
Birthday Variations

MARCH

Sacramento Ballet, Sacramento, CA
Kettentanz

Gala of Dance, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Light Rain, pas de deux

APRIL

Joffrey Ballet, Spring Gala, Chicago
Round of Angels

AUGUST

Chautauqua Festival, NY
Light Rain, pas de deux

SEPTEMBER

Fort Wayne Ballet
ConfettiLight Rain

OCTOBER

Ballet West
Ruth; Ricordi Per Due

Dance Now! Miami
Touch Me

NOVEMBER

Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami
Light Rain

DECEMBER

Ballet San Antonio
Snow, Flowers from Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker

2016

FEBRUARY

Dayton Ballet, Dayton, OH
Confetti

Ballet West, Salt Lake City, UT
Sea Shadow, Light Rain, pas de deux

Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, New York
Suite St. Saens

MARCH

Colorado Ballet, Denver, CO
Light Rain, pas de deux

City Ballet of Wilmington, NC
Viva Vivaldi! 2nd movement

APRIL

Ballet San Antonio
Confetti

Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, New York
Suite St. Saens

MAY

Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, New York
Suite St. Saens

2015

FEBRUARY

Butler Ballet, Indianapolis, IN
Viva Vivaldi! 

Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Indianapolis, IN
Birthday Variations

2014

FEBRUARY

Dayton Ballet, Dayton, OH
Reflections

Ballet Arkansas, Little Rock, AR
Birthday Variations

Los Angeles Ballet Academy, Los Angeles, CA
Italian Suite excerpts

DanceNOW Miami, Miami, FL
Light Rain pas de deux

MARCH

American Repertory Ballet, Princeton, NJ
Confetti

APRIL

Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX
Birthday Variations

MAY

Interlochen Center for the Arts
Viva Vivaldi, 2nd Movement

Joffrey Ballet School/NY
Kettentanz and Light Rain

JUNE

Chicago Ballet Arts, Chicago, IL
Reflections, excerpts

AUGUST

Ballet West ll, Salt Lake City
Confetti

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
Light Rain pas de deux

SEPTEMBER

Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne, IN
Confetti

OCTOBER

American Repertory Ballet, Raritan, NJ
Confetti

NOVEMBER

Ballet West, Salt Lake City
Ruth Recordi

DECEMBER

Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, Toronto
Suite St. Saens

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