FOUR World Premieres FEATURED IN THE
JOFFREY ACADEMY’s Winning Works
WEEKEND OF PERFORMANCES
March 9-10, 2019 at the MCA’s Edlis Neeson Theater
CHICAGO – February 14, 2019 The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet presents four world premieres in the culmination of Joffrey’s national call for ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American) artists to submit applications for the Joffrey Academy’s Ninth Annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition. This year’s Competition winners—Tommie-Waheed Evans, Marissa Osato, Xiang Xu and Edgar Zendejas—each have choreographed an original work created on the Joffrey Academy Trainees and Studio Company. Winning Works returns to the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Edlis Neeson Theater (220 E. Chicago Avenue) for three performances, Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM and Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 PM. Tickets for Winning Works are $25 and now available for purchase at joffrey.org/winningworks.
“This year’s Winning Works showcase has all the elements of a world-class program,” said Ashley Wheater, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet. “I am blown away by our 2019 winners and their ability to push boundaries. Each piece in this year’s program is unique, with elements that challenge our students technically and mentally. It is so gratifying to see our dancers grow in just a short time.”
Joffrey Academy Director Karine Provost added: “This weekend of performances is an annual highlight for the Joffrey and the Joffrey Academy. It is an opportunity to see an incredible display of creativity, but it is also a moment to celebrate diversity in the broader dance community and to witness our talented students transforming into young professionals. We are all looking forward to an amazing program, and beyond that, our tenth anniversary of Winning Works in 2020.”
Tommie-Waheed Evans hails from Los Angeles, California. His professional appearances include the popular sitcom The Parkers, The Emmy Awards, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Lula Washington Dance Theater, The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. He has set choreography on BalletX, Verb Ballets, Eleone Dance Theatre, Boston Conservatory, The University of the Arts, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Philadanco. Evans is currently the Artist-in-Residence at Philadanco and on faculty at the University of the Arts.
His world premiere for the Joffrey Academy (coup de grâce) imagines a post-apocalyptic world, shaped in part by the issues plaguing society today. Evans plays with themes of survival and perseverance in this raw, emotionally-charged performance that features a cast of 12 dancers and an original music composition by Cory Neale.
Los Angeles native Marissa Osato is a choreographer, director, and dance educator who creates emotionally-driven, embodied narratives to find cross-cultural universality within shared experiences. Using a hybrid language of contemporary, jazz, and street dance techniques, Osato’s choreography exhibits a sense of groundedness and abandon, of rhythm and dynamism, of stillness and intimacy. Osato is the co-founder/co-artistic director of Entity Contemporary Dance, an L.A.-based dance company that has taught workshops and performed original repertory in the U.S. and Asia. Osato earned an M.F.A. in Choreography from California Institute of the Arts, and a B.A. in Dance and B.A. in Literary Journalism from the University of California, Irvine.
Osato’s world premiere for the Joffrey Academy (GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT) explores the tension between our inner realities and the shiny exterior personas we create. Osato employs dynamic contemporary jazz movement and an original score by Chicago-based composer Elliot Callighan to confront the exhausting dissonance between these dual identities.
Xiang Xu is an international choreographer, dancer and instructor based in New York City. He holds an M.F.A. in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and has served as adjunct faculty and guest artist at Syracuse University and Santa Monica College. In 2015 he established the Xiang Xu Dance Theater. Xiang grew up in China and earned his B.A. at Beijing Dance Academy. While studying there, he won numerous awards including the Gold Lion top prize in choreography at the Singapore World Music Dance and Instrument Competition.
Xiang’s world premiere for the Joffrey Academy (Vessels Bearing) is inspired by rice, a cohesive entity that embodies togetherness and a source of sustenance. Xiang describes rice as “the lifeblood of Asian culture.” This new premiere features an original music composition by Adriano Fontana.
Mexican-born Edgar Zendejas danced for Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Giordano Dance Chicago. Zendejas’ work won him commissions for bjm_danse, Jacob’s Pillow, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, DanceWorks Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, NorthWestDanceProject, Ballet Hispanico, State Street Ballet, Eisenhower Dance, Santa Barbara Dance Theatre and Richmond Ballet, among others. In 2010, Zendejas won the Hubbard Street 2 National Choreographic Competition and was a finalist for the GENESIS competition with Milwaukee Ballet. In 2012, he won the Outstanding Choreographer Award from Youth America Grand Prix.
His world premiere for the Joffrey Academy (LÍNEAS) is a conceptual work based on the idea that life is interconnected. Using the so-called lines of classical and contemporary ballet, Zendejas fashions a profound performance about relationships, interaction and the wholistic sense of unity between human beings.
Tickets for Winning Works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater are $25 and now available at joffrey.org/winningworks. Performances take place on Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM and Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 PM.
The Joffrey Ballet gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Winning Works Sponsors Eric C. Schieber, MD; GI Energy, an affiliate of Shell New Energies; and William Blair with Joffrey Board Member Rita Spitz. William Blair is a premier global boutique with expertise in investment banking, investment management, and private wealth management. The Joffrey also thanks Athletico, the Joffrey’s Official Provider of Physical Therapy.
About the Joffrey Studio Company
The Joffrey Studio Company is a scholarship program of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet. The Joffrey Studio Company consists of outstanding students selected by Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Head of Studio Company and Trainee Program Raymond Rodriguez. The Joffrey Studio Company and Trainees have performed on some of the most prestigious stages, including Lincoln Center in NY, the Auditorium Theatre, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Cadillac Palace Theatre and MCA Stage in Chicago, Music Hall in LA, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and more. The individualized training and performance opportunities provided by the Joffrey Studio Company offers students unique insight into the life of a professional dancer, assisting students in preparation for a professional career in dance and helping them expand their technique and artistry.
About the Joffrey Academy Trainees
The Joffrey Academy Trainee Program is a one to two-year program for students ages 17 and older who are preparing for a professional dance career. Students are selected to participate in the Trainee Program by invitation from Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and the Head of Studio Company and Trainee Program Raymond Rodriguez. This esteemed and rigorous program gives students a unique and well-rounded experience to prepare them for the next step in their careers. Trainees rehearse and perform classical and contemporary works from The Joffrey Ballet’s extensive repertoire and have the opportunity to work with guest choreographers throughout the year. Graduates of the Academy have gone on to dance professionally with companies throughout the world including The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Dresden Semperoper, Complexions, Milwaukee Ballet, Memphis Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, BalletMet, Polish National Ballet, Slovak National Ballet, and many more.
For more information on the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet and its programs please visit joffrey.org/academy. Connect with the Joffrey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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