Author: Kiley, Brendan
Date published: May 30, 2012
* JOFFREY: MAVERICKS OF AMERICAN DANCE
Sometime in the 1940s, somewhere in Seattle, a 16-year-old boy named Robert Joffrey-the son of an Afghan father and an Italian mother-met a 22-year-old Coast Guardsman named Gerald Arpino. They fell in love and, some years later, founded the Joffrey Ballet in New York City, which became one of the most politically and aesthetically radical ballet companies in America. They were classically trained but craved modern influences: They were the first ballet company to stage a (psychedelic) piece to rock 'n' roll music. They went on weird, Johnny Appleseed-style road trips to perform across the country. They toured to Russia at the height of the Cold War and played tricks on the spies tracking them. They commissioned early works by Twyla Tharp and Alvin Ailey. Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance documents the company's dogged and turbulent rise to the edge of American dance culture. It's a story about American ballet, but also a story about daring people who gleefully (and sometimes reluctantly) threw themselves into the whirlwinds of controversy. "We were just sore, tired, and hungry," one dancer says in an interview. "We didn't realize we were living through a revolution." (BRENDAN KILEY) Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Tues 7, 9 pm.