We were privileged this past week to have former Joffrey Prima Ballerina Maia Wilkins in the Ballet West studios to teach our dancers Gerald Arpino’s last creation “Ruth, Ricordi Per Due”.
Maia Wilkins is honored to continue Gerald Arpino’s legacy as a repetiteur for his works and the Gerald Arpino Foundation. As a freelance artist, she enjoys performing and teaching throughout the country. Wilkins has staged works for Point Park University Pittsburgh PA and Southern Methodist University Dallas TX. She has taught and helped with dance workshops and performances at University of Wisconsin at Steven’s Point, Nevada Festival Ballet in Reno, Eastern Connecticut Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Lou Conte Dance Center and throughout the greater Chicago area. She loves dancing both on stage and off with her husband and fellow artist Michael Levine.
The Joffey Ballet 1991-2008
“In a company that has long avoided the star system, Wilkins has long been an unofficial prima ballerina – an artist whose technique is paired with exceptional gifts for dramatic expression.”
- Dance Magazine
From Balanchine pointe to Pilobolus bare feet; from favorite ballerina fairies to flying on a trapeze, during the course of her 18-year history with The Joffrey Ballet, Wilkins danced featured roles that showcased her artistic range and physical versatility.
Wilkins has gotten to work with numerous répétiteurs and choreographers including pieces by Tudor, Cranko, Parsons, Tharp, Kylian, Ashton, and Nijinsky. Maia Wilkins has performed more Joffrey and Arpino ballets than any other ballerina. Arpino created his 2004 duet, Ruth, Ricordi per Due, for Wilkins and her frequent partner Willy Shives.
“It is that passionate attention to building a role that makes Wilkins such a fascinating performer–a dancer whose pristine technique is only the handmaiden to the challenge of interpreting a role and making it her own.” – Dance Magazine
“Wilkins has worked with the Joffrey for many years and has been instrumental in helping establish it as a Chicago cultural institution of the top rank.” – Chicago Tribune
Maia Wilkins received the Ruth Page Dance Achievement Award in 1999 for her artistry and in 2001 for the role of Kate in Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew. She has been one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.” In 2002 the Chicago Tribune named her one of the top ten artists in Chicago. In 2006, along with Gerald Arpino, Wilkins was named one of the Chicagoans of the year. Wilkins can be seen in the feature films Save the Last Dance and Robert Altman’s The Company.
Maia Wilkins was born and raised in Truckee, California, began her dance training in tap, and then the opportunity to study ballet came when she was eleven. Wilkins received her formative training under Maggie Banks at the Nevada Festival Ballet School. She has also studied with Stanley Holden in Los Angeles, the School of American Ballet, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Luigi, and Tina Bernal in New York. Wilkins performed with Joffrey Concert Group as a scholarship student at the Joffrey Ballet School then became a member of Joffrey II. She performed a European tour with Dennis Wayne Dancers in 1990.