Joffrey carries on steps of change
By Sid Smith
The Joffrey Ballet of late seems simultaneously blessed and besieged, an organization in transition or trouble, depending on the day or the headline.
In September, the company moves into gleaming, new $23 million headquarters, with third- and fourth-floor studio glass walls overlooking the corner of State and Randolph Streets. Not only will this facility finally unite administrators and artists under one roof, but the skyscraper will trumpet the company's name – the Joffrey Tower – and offer daily views of the dancers at work.
The tricky hunt for a successor to octogenarian co-founder Gerald Arpino went off smoothly last fall, a process that ripped apart top dance troupes elsewhere. Ashley Wheater emerged as the board's unanimous choice, welcomed by Arpino with a warm public salute.
But in February came news that Maia Wilkins, 38, the fluid, soulful lead ballerina, won't be back next season, her contract not renewed, a move that struck some as abrupt.
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