Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Four World Premieres Featured In “Winning Works,” Culmination of Joffrey Ballet’s 2015 Choreographers of Color Awards, March 7-8, 2015

Presented in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art,
March 7-8, 2015

CHICAGO – The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents four World Premieres in the fifth annual “Winning Works” program, the culmination of the 2015 Choreographers of Color Awards.  Three of the new works come from this year’s Award winners Jennifer Archibald, Abdul Latif and Stephanie Martinez.  The fourth piece is a new work by Joffrey Academy Artistic Director Alexei Kremnev called Windy Sand with original music by Karen LeFrak.  All four works are performed by dancers from the Joffrey Studio Company and the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program.  The Joffrey Academy of Dance’s “Winning Works” program is presented at a new venue in 2015, the Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Avenue, over three performances: Saturday, March 7 at 3 pm and 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 8 at 3 pm.
An MCA Talk: First Night program takes place following the Saturday, March 7 evening performance.  
Audience members are invited to stay at the end of the performance for a conversation with the three Winning Choreographers and Alexei Kremnev, moderated by Yolanda Cesta Cursach, Associate Director of Performance Programs. A reception follows and is free to the public.

New York-based Jennifer Archibald is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Arch Dance Company and Program Director of ArchCore40 dance intensives. In 2013, she was awarded a Choreographic Fellows for Ailey's New Directions Choreography Lab under the direction of Robert Battle, while in 2014, the international portion of Ailey II’s 31-city world tour premiered Jennifer’s work “Wings” in Poland, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Canada.  Specializing in the Meisner technique, Archibald has said the narration of her new work (title TBA) will develop as the Joffrey dancers’ stories are shared and begin to evolve, with a common thread of each dancer's experience tying the storyline together. Movement will incorporate the technical fundamentals of ballet, modern dance and hip hop.  Audiences can expect to see dancers pushed athletically, moving with and against gravity as well as lyrically flying across space, encompassing both the hard edge of street dance and the fluidity of classical technique.          

Abdul Latif, also based in New York, is a member of two dance companies: The Group, Donald Byrd’s contemporary ballet company and The Works, Jennifer Muller’s contemporary company. Latif has two Tony® Award-winning Broadway credits, as an ensemble cast member in The Lion King and in Hairspray. He is currently conceiving The NEXT Project, launching his urban-contemporary style, and opening a performing arts firm called Abdul Latif-D2D/T.  His new work, A Year From Now Ago, addresses the passage of time, how we as human beings share time and space with one another as we watch and endure the inevitability of death coming into our lives. Transition, fear, resilience and the loving, fighting spirit that lives within each of us all come to bear within the piece. The choreography is based on movement traditions built from classical forms, using a contemporary
aesthetic infused with an urban sensibility.

Stephanie Martinez is an award-winning Chicago dance artist with over 30 years professional performing experience. After a 17-year stint with River North Dance Chicago, for which she merited a Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Performance, Martinez joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago as a principal dancer for its productions of Manon and The Merry Widow, followed by the Marriott Theater's production of Swing. She has also performed with Luna Negra Dance Theater, Ron de Jesus Dance, Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre and has choreographed for Luna Negra, Elements Contemporary Ballet, Visceral Dance Chicago, and more. For this program, Martinez has created a work (title TBA) that is particular to our modern world where 'multi-cultural' is often an intimate experience between two people. Her eclectic movement style reflects an ability to straddle many cultural divides, with her choreographic instincts and choices moving beyond those traditionally associated with Latin culture. Audiences can expect to see a marrying of disparate styles, infusing ballet with edgier, jazz-based elements, and grounding the more cerebral modern vocabularies in funk and hip-hop.

The Winning Works program also includes a new work by Alexei Kremnev Joffrey Academy Co-Artistic Director, called Windy Sand with original music by Karen LeFrak and costume design by B. Michael. Windy Sand is inspired by the natural beauty that all Chicagoans know and love, Lake Michigan.

The Choreographers of Color Award was created to recognize emerging minority choreographers and to provide them with a platform to showcase their original and innovative work.  Each of the three selected choreographers are given a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours, a $2,500 stipend and an opportunity to work directly with Joffrey Academy Co-Artistic Directors, Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.

“For the fifth year, The Joffrey is honored to recognize the country’s most promising diverse choreographers and provide this opportunity to set their works on dancers at the cusp of their professional careers,” said Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater. “Audiences are rewarded with a first look at the high caliber of artistry presented by these talented and dynamic choreographers.”

“Winning Works” is an example of our commitment to nurturing and empowering the diverse voices and talent of young choreographers,” said Joffrey Ballet Executive Director Greg Cameron.  “The creative language of the choreographers, our committed Joffrey Trainees, and Chicago’s enthusiastic dance audience will all be enriched as three Joffrey premieres grace the stage of the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA”.
Added Museum of Contemporary Art Director of Performance Programs Peter Taub: “I’m thrilled to welcome the Joffrey Academy with this project, which enhances MCA’s role as a home for artists performing new works.  It will be extraordinary to experience these fresh choreographic visions and exquisite dancers in the intimacy of the MCA Theater.”

MCA Stage is a nationally recognized presenter of contemporary theater, dance, music, and multimedia performances. Featuring leading performers from around the globe, including Chicago’s innovative artists, MCA Stage is the most active interdisciplinary performing arts presenter in Chicago. Visit to learn more.

Tickets for “Winning Works” 2015 at the MCA, March 7 and 8, are $22 and available for purchase at the MCA box office located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue, by telephone at 312-397-4010, or online at and

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its “Winning Works” 2015 Sponsors Allstate, The Edward and Lucy R. Minor Family Foundation, Patti S. Eylar and Charles R. Gardner and Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP, and to its Joffrey Academy of Dance Sponsor Athletico.

Generous support for MCA Dance is provided by David Herro and Jay Franke.

For more information on the Academy Trainees of the Joffrey Ballet, or other programs at the Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, please visit

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