The Joffrey Documentary Makes It to TV

December 20, 2012

Give yourself a post-Christmas present and tune in to PBS’s American Masters series to watch Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance this Friday, Dec. 28 at 9:00 P.M. (check local listings). When it was first shown at Dance on Camera Festival, I got excited and wrote about it in our “New York Notebook.”

The Joffrey caught the sign of the times in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Robert Joffrey dared to use rock ’n roll; he discovered Twyla Tharp and Frederick Ashton for American audiences; he mounted a brilliant reconstruction of Nijinsky’s scandalous Rite of Spring (which you will be hearing  about in our February issue). Then, tragically, he died of AIDS in 1988, plunging the company into a morass of indecision. But it’s a happy ending: Relocating to Chicago in 1995 was the right move. And now, judging from the terrific program I saw last winter, the Joffrey Ballet is thriving again. —Wendy Perron