Compiled by Deborah Sakamoto

1956: The Joffrey Ballet is born as six dancers embark on a tour of 23 one-night performances.

1963: The Joffrey dances for the first time at the White House, in the presence of President Kennedy and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

1964: After a U.S. tour, the company is disbanded in March, after disagreements on policy with the Rebekah Harkness Foundation, which controls most of the dancer’s contracts and the recent repertoire.


1965: A new company is formed, assisted by a Ford Foundation grant, making its debut at Jacob’s Pillow in August and dancing in New York for the first time at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

The company goes on its first State Department tour of the Near East.

1966: Joffrey Ballet becomes the resident company at New York City Center.

1967: Joffrey Ballet makes the cover of Time magazine.

1970: Joffrey II Company is formed, an apprentice group directed by Jonathon Watts and Sally Brayley Bliss, to develop young dancers.

1974: The company makes its second State Department tour, visiting the Soviet Union and introducing rock. Arpino’s “Trinity” has 42 curtain calls closing night in Moscow.

1976: Joffrey inaugurates public TV’s new “Dance in America” series.

1979: President Carter invites the Joffrey to perform at a gala at Kennedy Center in honor of Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiao Ping.

1980: The company has its first gala at the Metropolitan Opera House; The Joffrey dances while singers Lena Horne and Judith Blegen appear as guests, and Gene Kelly emcees.

1981: President and Mrs. Reagan attend the second Metropolitan Opera House gala; the company celebrates its 25 anniversary.


1982: Joffrey receives a major grant from Philip Morris Inc. for a national tour.

On June 28, the Joffrey Ballet is invited to become the first resident dance company at the Music Center of Los Angeles County.

1983: The Joffrey has a triumphant inaugural season as the resident dance company at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center in Los Angeles. Fall season opens with another first: Joffrey and the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform together.

1986: The Joffrey Ballet celebrates three anniversaries: the 30th year of its founding in 1956 by Robert Joffrey, the 25th anniversary of Gerald Arpino, associate director, as a choreographer, and the 20th anniversary of the company in residence at New York’s City Center.

1987: The Joffrey Ballet opens its first engagement at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

1988: On March 25, Robert Joffrey dies in New York City at 57. Arpino is named artistic director.

May 1, 1990: Gerald Arpino submits his resignation as artistic director in a company power struggle and, a day later, prohibits the performance of his ballets and those belonging to the estate of Robert Joffrey.