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Joffrey, Robertlocked

(24 December 1928–25 March 1988)
  • Sasha Anawalt

Extract

Joffrey, Robert (24 December 1928–25 March 1988), founder and artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet, was born Anver Joffrey in Seattle, Washington, the only child of Joseph (Dollha) Joffrey and Mary (Maria) Gallette, restaurant owners. He was also known as Anver Bey Abdullah Jaffa Khan. Joffrey was born with twisted feet that required him to wear casts. As a young boy he was bowlegged and severely asthmatic, and his family physician recommended that he participate in a regular exercise program. At nine he took boxing lessons. But Joffrey, who even in adulthood grew only to five feet four inches, was unsuited for the sport. He was subsequently enrolled in tap, ballroom, and theatrical dancing classes at a small studio above his parents’ restaurant. His response was instantaneous and zealous. He envisioned “choreographing a snowflake ballet down a ramp” and told his teacher, Dorothy Culper, that he intended someday to direct his own ballet company....

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