Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ballet founder Arpino dies at 85

Gerald Arpino
Arpino concentrated on choreography following a back injury

Gerald Arpino, the co-founder and former artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet, has died at the age of 85.

Born in Staten Island, Arpino was a dancer and choreographer when he established the company in New York with the late Robert Joffrey in 1956.

He took over as artistic director after Joffrey's death in 1988, and oversaw the troupe's move to Chicago in 1995.

Joffrey Ballet spokeswoman Beth Silverman said Arpino died in Chicago after a prolonged illness.

Repertoire

The Joffrey is a world-famous company, known for commissioning groundbreaking young choreographers and performing socially relevant pieces.

Arpino choreographed more than one-third of the company's repertoire, including his 1961 work Ropes, and 1993's Billboards, which was set to the music of Prince.

The Joffrey Ballet - which took centre stage in Robert Altman's 2003 film The Company - moved from New York to Chicago after struggling to get funding in the shadow of the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.



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