Charthel Arthur


Charthel Arthur, Ballet Master

Charthel Arthur began her dance training in Pasadena, California with Eva Lorraine. She also had one year of classes with Mme. Bronislava Nijinska. After graduating from high school with honors, she went to New York and was given a full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School. Soon she was offered an apprenticeship to The Joffrey Ballet and three months later she became a full company member. Ms. Arthur performed with The Joffrey Ballet for thirteen years as a principal dancer. She performed throughout the United States, Russia, Canada, and also in London and Vienna. She performed twice at the White House.

During her years with The Joffrey, she was most fortunate to study and work with many of the most important and creative people in the dance world.  Ms. Arthur created and performed in many works, including Gerald Arpino’s “Viva Vivaldi, “Kettentanz,” “Reflections,” “Confetti,” and “Trinity”; Robert Joffrey’s “Pas des Deesses,” “Gamelan,” and “Remembrances”; George Balanchine’s “Pas de Dix,” “Square Dance,” “Donizetti Variations,” and “Scotch Symphony;" Jerome Robbins’ “Interplay” and “New York Export: Opus Jazz”; Agnes DeMille’s “Rodeo”; Kurt Joos’ “The Green Table”; Antony Tudor’s “Offenbach in the Underworld”; Alvin Ailey’s “Feast of Ashes”; Ruthanna Boris’ “Cakewalk”; Sir Frederick Ashton’s “The Dream” and “Façade”; Michel Fokine’s “Patrouchka”; Leonide Massine’s “Tricorne”; and Fleming Flint’s “The Lesson.”

In 1983, Ms. Arthur and her husband, Robert Estner, moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to establish a professional ballet school called Summerfest School. The School of the Grand Rapids Ballet, as it is now called, has produced dancers that have gone on to work with numerous major professional ballet companies throughout the United States. As Artistic Director of the Grand Rapids Ballet for ten years, Ms. Arthur raised the level of the company from a small civic group to become the only professional ballet company in the state of Michigan.

Robert Joffrey asked Ms. Arthur to join him and instruct at his Joffrey Workshop in San Antonio, Texas, where she taught from 1981 to 1992. She also joined the staff at the Joffrey Workshop Midwest in Flint, Michigan.

Ms. Arthur’s career with The Joffrey Ballet came full circle when she joined the company as a Ballet Master in 1998. She currently holds this position.

Ms. Arthur has staged Arpino ballets throughout the United States and overseas.

Ms. Arthur can be seen in Robert Altman’s feature film, “The Company,” portraying herself.

The Estners have one son, Adam, who is a musician and resides in Grand Rapids.