This past weekend I spoke for about 30 minutes on WGN's 720 radio program with Brian Noonan. His program runs from 2:00am--5:00am on Saturday mornings, and while I was certainly tired after a long week of rehearsals and opening the Nutcracker on Friday night, I was happy to be on his show at 2:00am Saturday morning. The truth is, I simply want to dedicate my life to the support of the arts. So yes, I will absolutely make the time to talk on the radio at 2:00am simply because I think it's so important. Some of you may ask why I would do such a thing, so I'll answer that with a story.
8 years ago a rather important man gave me a chance to prove myself, and more importantly, treated me like his own son. I owe my life and devotion to Mr. Gerald Arpino. I danced for a lot of companies before coming to the Joffrey and it seemed to me that the commonality among these companies was that they held business at the forefront of what should be an art centered field. The Joffrey is the true definition of unique. It was created by two men in 1956 and had its humble beginnings with only 6 dancers who traveled around the country in a station wagon. Mr. Joffrey would pay his dancers with his own teaching salary. There is not much more that proves his commitment and dedication for his company, for his belief in what he thought dance should be, and for what it takes to truly devote your entire being, your entire heart, to something. Mr. Arpino's commitment for his company and his "babies" (his dancers) was without limit, was indescribable, and utterly palpable with every interaction. He is missed every day (January 14, 1923 - October 29, 2008).
Today I feel as thought I owe them something. It is my responsibility to do so. I can tell that I was one of the last dancers Mr. Arpino picked himself to be in his company. I flew to Chicago in 2002 for a very short (life changing) trip to take company class with the Joffrey, and he immediately offered me a contract right on the spot. I will remember that day for the rest of my life. To this day, it is definitely one of the biggest changes of my life. I have now been with the company for 8 years and enjoy it more everyday. Mr. Arpino and the Joffrey have given me so much that I greatly enjoy giving back. Although Mr. Arpino is no longer with us, our new leader, Ashley Wheater, has not forgotten the original vision of the Joffrey. Our dedication to Mr. Joffrey's and Mr. Arpino's importance of art remains.
(FYI: I spoke for around 30 min and decided to upload 10 minutes of video at a time. Below are the first ten minutes and I will upload the other two sections soon. check back!)