- Arts philanthropist and veterans activist Patricia Kennedy
long regarded as "The First Lady of The Joffrey" hosted the Los Angeles premiere of the extraordinary documentary "Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance" at Los Angeles' Zipper Hall at The Colburn School on February 1, 2012. Kennedy has been associated with the Joffrey for almost three decades and has been one of the acclaimed troupe's most ardent and invaluable supporters.
"Billboards" Duet. (David Crotty/Patrick McMullan Company)
Kennedy, a close friend of both Robert Joffrey
and Gerald Arpino
the company's founders, served on the New York/Los Angeles Board of Directors from 1985 through 1994 and continued to support the company until Gerald's passing a few years ago in 2008. At a time when the Joffrey was facing financial ruin and near collapse, Kennedy was pivotal to the production of the internationally acclaimed ballet "Billboards" as rock star Prince
was her good friend and she suggested the collaboration between him and the Joffrey, and was instrumental in the two year production of this ground breaking ballet, "Billboards" - the first-ever rock ballet - became the most commercially successful ballet in dance history.
"Billboards'" great success gave the Joffrey a new lease on life and brought them refreshed attention in the press and a worldwide younger audience, most of which had never before attended a ballet.
She went on to chair many galas and fundraisers for the company. When she joined the Board of Directors, the Joffrey did not have a "Nutcracker" in its repertoire, so she spearheaded the Joffrey's 30th Anniversary Campaign in 1986 to raise vital funds for this production and personally underwrote the Joffrey's 30th Anniversary art work (a poster designed by famed artist and friend Melanie Taylor Kent
) which sold thousands to fund Joffrey's "Nutcracker." Audience members came out at intermissions and after the performances to purchase posters personally signed by Robert, Jerry and the dancers and to greet them, the company raised tens of thousands and the "Nutcracker" was born/
Hybrid Cinema's "Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance" is the first film to chronicle the legendary Joffrey Ballet Company. The feature length documentary takes a look at this ground-breaking cultural treasure, known as the first truly American dance company and chronicles how the Joffrey revolutionized American ballet by daringly combining modern dance with traditional ballet technique. The film directed by Bob Hercules
and narrated by Mandy Patinkin
had its World Premiere in New York at Lincoln Center earlier the previous week.
Mark Goldweber in Joffrey's "Nutcracker." (David Crotty/Patrick McMullan Company)
Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles premiere was packed to the rafters with hundreds of Joffrey fans and many former members of the company which once called L.A. home. Among the many Joffrey alums (the evening was dedicated to the memory of Mark Goldweber
, who originated the role of The Prince in Joffrey's "Nutcracker"), were Jodie Gates
, Francoise Martinet Moriarty
, Elizabeth Molak-Huebner
, Jerry Kokich
, Michael Hudson-Medina
, Janey Campbell
, Jerry Kokich
, Leslie Carothers-Aromaa
and Britta Lazenga
This insightful documentary, executive produced by Harold Ramis
and Jay Alix
and produced by Una Jackman
and Erica Mann Ramis
, examines the dynamic trajectory of the groundbreaking American ballet company - The Joffrey Ballet - which daringly combined traditional ballet and modern dance at a time when it was not routinely accepted. Weaving together a wealth of archival footage, behind-the-scene photos and interviews with former and current Joffrey star dancers, director Bob Hercules
documents the struggles and achievements of the Joffrey from its newfound beginnings in 1956 to the Company's present international success.
The film features rare excerpts from many seminal Joffrey works including "Astarte," "Trinity" and "Billboards," as well as breakthrough collaborations with choreographers such as Twyla Tharp
, Leonid Massine
, Laura Dean
and Kurt Jooss
. Founders Joffrey and Arpino and a host of ballet notables, including Gary Chryst
, Trinette Singleton
, Helgi Tomasson
, Kevin McKenzie
and more, are featured in the film.
"Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance" is a rich chronicle of a ballet company that continues to reinvent itself, raise the bar and invigorate audiences worldwide
The evening included a fascinating Q&A following the screening moderated by Sasha Anawalt
, Director, Arts Journalism Programs at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, with panelists Leslie Carothers-Aromaa
, Artistic Director of the Colburn School's Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, Carole Valleskey
, Founder and Director of CDI, Francoise Martinet Moriarty
, former Joffrey dancer from the company's earliest days in the late 1950s, and Jodie Gates
, Artistic Director of the Laguna Beach Dance Festival and former Joffrey principal dancer.
Joffrey Alumni: Francois Martinet Moriarty, Jerry Kokich, Britta Lazenga, Michael Hudson Medina, Leslie Carothers-Aromaa, Jodi Gates. Front: Elizabeth Molak Huebner, Carole Valleskey and Janey Campbell. (David Crotty/Patrick McMullan Company)
Following the discussion, Kennedy embraced fellow dance patron Glorya Kaufman
who recently gave The Music Center the largest gift in its history - $20 million for The Center's acclaimed Dance Program. Two of the dance world's greatest patrons together on the same stage ensuring the future of dance in the 21st Century!