Lemonis Bridge Program

Grades 1-2

The Joffrey Ballet’s Lemonis Bridge Program is designed to introduce students from Chicago Public Schools to the basic elements of classical ballet ultimately finding and training the next generation of dancers. This program provides first and second grade students with a highly structured dance experience where they will develop life skills, creativity and physical awareness. The Joffrey Ballet is committed to providing the highest level of classical dance instruction to Chicago’s youth, thereby teaching students about the concept of pursuing dance as a career when they otherwise would not have had this exposure.

The program is structured in four phases. During Phase I, students receive ballet instruction at their schools from Joffrey Teaching Artists. Select students are invited to participate in Phase II classes that take place at Joffrey Tower on Saturdays. Throughout Phase III, students participate in a four-week summer intensive with four hours of dance classes each day. Students that demonstrate excellent attendance, behavior, and progress are awarded scholarships to continue studying at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, in the final phase of the program.


 “Nothing is closer to my heart than a young person who finds a means of expression through dance. In many ways, that was my story, too.”  -Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet

Middle School Dance Clubs

Grades 5-8

The Middle School Dance Clubs (MSDC), The Joffrey Ballet’s longest-standing school program, is a weekly dance education program. Participating students and teachers learn about dance through a syllabus incorporating assessments based on Illinois Fine Arts and Social Emotional Learning Standards. MSDC students attend three Joffrey performances and work with Joffrey Teaching Artists to create original dances. The program culminates with two major events: the Spring Concert in March and the week-long Intensive, May 19-23, 2014. See the Program Overview.


Upcoming Performances

MSDC Annual Spring Concert:

Thursday, March 26,2015 at 10:30 am at Nicholas Senn High School (5900 N. Glenwood)

MSDC Intensives: A week long intensive where all of the Middle School Dance Clubs perform at various CPS schools.

Monday, May 18 at 10:00 am, TBD

Tuesday, May 19 at 10:00 and 11:00 am,TBD

Wednesday, May 20 at 10:00 and 11:00 am,TBD

Thursday, May 21 at 10:00 and 11:00 am,TBD

Friday, May 22 at 10:00 am, Nicholas Senn High School (5900 N. Glenwood)


MSDC Extensions Program

In February 2012, the Extensions Program was created to offer interested MSDC students the opportunity to build a foundation to dance at the high school level. This free program provides a structured dance experience where students increase their physical awareness, strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance by being introduced to basic elements of ballet, jazz, and modern. The Extensions Program is a year-long program, and students are invited to join at the beginning of each spring semester.


Learn More

Many Middle School Dance Club students have had great success in their dance education and have been accepted to Chi Arts.
Read Lawrence’s Story.


“The faculty and staff here at North River Elementary School are very enthusiastic about the MDSC program. The classes are really having a positive impact on our students and I believe that it is truly making a difference for the students academically.” - Dr. Gil Sanchez, Principal at North River Elementary School

Residency Programs

Grades Pre-K - 12

Residency Programs are ideal for schools looking for in-depth, student-centered dance programming that focuses on a wide range of topics along with multiple styles of dance. Students learn a variety of dance genres such as, Latin style dancing and the South African Gumboot Dance. We also partner with the Field Museum developing curriculums for some of their exhibits. A Joffrey Teaching Artist travels to each school to offer classes regularly and guides the students through structured units to build a strong foundation of dance. Instruction focuses on ballet, modern, jazz, student choreography and more.


All of The Joffrey Ballet’s Custom Residency Programs meet Illinois State Goals for the Fine Arts, as appropriate for each grade level.

Exelon Strobel Step-Up Program

Advanced high school students

The Exelon Strobel Step-Up Program is a rigorous scholarship program offered to promising high school students. Named in honor of former Joffrey Board Chair Pamela B. Strobel, and long-time supporter Exelon Corporation, the group was founded in 2006 to help participants develop their dance skills and provide opportunities to showcase their talents. The group has performed at Millennium Park, Toyota Park, the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Dance Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and other venues throughout Chicago. Additionally, in 2010, the Government of South Africa invited a group of Exelon Strobel Step-Up students to South Africa to help promote the Diski Dance and the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament.


Upcoming Performances

Dance Slam Saturday, November 1 at 8:00 pm at the Athenaeum Theatre

Joffrey Spring Gala: Friday, April 17 at 6:30 pm at the Auditorium Theatre





Advanced Arts Program (AAP)

High school juniors and seniors

This partnership with the Chicago Public Schools at Gallery 37 involves yearlong dance instruction for ambitious high school students. Participants receive honors credit for attending daily classes in which they study a rigorous curriculum of dance technique, history, terminology and performance.  For more information click here.


After School Matters Summer Intensive

High school students

High School students work as apprentices or advanced apprentices in this seven-week summer partnership programs. With instruction by Joffrey dancers and Joffrey Teaching Artists, students participate in a rigorous rehearsal schedule, working with a number of guest choreographers and perform throughout the city.

As part of the intensive, each student group acts as an ensemble, perfecting a repertoire of 10-15 dances they perform throughout the program and at a final showcase in August.


Visit for more information.