When I moved to Chicago to join the Joffrey in 2002 I found a family. After dancing in different companies, in many different places, I found that all of them handled their companies like business (not that this is necessarily a bad thing). But it was at the Joffrey where I realized it was not at all a business that I was experiencing, but a family with a certain man in charge, Mr. Gerald Arpino. Mr. A was the founder of our company well over 50 years ago with Robert Joffrey, and he was our boss. But he was never "bossing" people around, but rather guiding us in our careers and in our lives. It was everything we needed for our betterment.
This post is not about the company, but about 2 fundamental beings in our family, the support poles of the entire Joffrey structure, Barbara Levy Kipper and her husband, David. What I have realized through my years in the company is that there are amazing people out there that care far more about others than about themselves, that create nothing but good around them, and open doors for other people all for something greater than themselves. The Kippers moved the company to Chicago in the 1990's, they supported the Joffrey at a very crucial and critical time in our history, and have continued to support us day in and day out. Without their support, there may not be a Joffrey Ballet. The Kippers are Joffrey's hero and we owe them everything. The Joffrey "is" Mr. Arpino and Mr. Joffrey, but I would not be where I am today, would not have the job I hold today, would not get to carry out the work of Mr. A and and Mr. Joffrey without the generosity, support, and care from the Kippers.
I am what I am because of the people that came before me, that established this family, and that kept it growing, all because of their dedication and commitment to art and to the company. It is these people that created who and what we are today. I'm humbled every day by what has been laid out at my feet, by what I have been given a chance to become a part of. We are not paid millions of dollars and often, we nurture pain maybe more than those football players you watch every Sunday. We do it for the form, and we are proud to put our chins up and perform like there is no tomorrow, bringing joy, smiles, and sometimes tears to so many. When the curtain goes up we deliver to you, the audience, the best of the best. But at the end of the day, it's because we must acknowledge everything we have been given from those who got the Joffrey to where it is today, every day striving to make their efforts worth it all. We are the....Joffrey Ballet. A very very proud statement...
To you, Barbara and David, thank you for being who you are. You have changed lives and touched millions of people by what you have done. Because of your actions, Chicago, the Joffrey, and I will never be the same. There are no words to truly say thank you or ways in which we can repay you. Please know you remain forever our hero, a legend traveling through everyone's heart and in our memories.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts
David Kipper, 1939 - December 3, 2010