The Joffrey Ballet announces the launch of the Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet

October 24, 2008
Press Release

Classes to begin January 5, 2009!



October 24, 2008 – In its continued commitment to provide dancers with the highest quality of dance training, The Joffrey Ballet, led by Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, proudly announces the launch of the Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet.  The Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, which will be housed in the Exelon Education Center, will formally open its doors to the public on January 5, 2009.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to launch this world-class dance program in our new state-of-the-art home, the Joffrey Tower,” states Ashley Wheater.  “The Academy of Dance is our commitment to Chicago, and the dance community as a whole, to maintain Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino’s standard of excellence by providing a healthy environment to foster dance appreciation and the highest caliber of dance training.”

A former dancer who trained at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, Royal Ballet School; held a career with several major dance companies; and has judged for international competitions, Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater has an immense understanding of the international and national dance community. This combination guarantees the utmost care in leadership and dedication to the growing curriculum. Currently running as a preview program, the Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet will offer several training programs designed for various levels of students, ages three and up.

The Academy of Dance will also be lead by Associate Artistic Directors and full time faculty members Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.  Kremnev received his training from the world famous Moscow Bolshoi Ballet Academy, the Russian Academy of Theatrical Art and the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. Reznik’s career began at the world famous Moscow Bolshoi Ballet and the Moscow Bolshoi Institute of Choreography.  As principal dancers for the internationally acclaimed Moscow Festival Ballet (later the Russian National Ballet) and the Cincinnati Ballet, both have danced throughout the world with the Russian Stars of the Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and the European Stars of the Ballet. Kremnev and Reznik have worked with many companies, including Northern Ballet Theatre (England, U.K.), Ballet Met, ballettech of ohio, Next Generation Dance Company, Tulsa Ballet Theatre, Essex Dance (U.K.) and have participated in a Ballet Stars Master Class Series in England and in Germany.

Other faculty members include Joffrey Ballet's Pierre Lockett (Director Education & Community Engagement), Charthel Arthur (Ballet Master), and Joffrey Ballet dancers Calvin Kitten, Suzanne Lopez and Valerie Robin.

The opening of the Academy of Dance will address various recognized needs in Chicago’s dance education programs including the establishment of a professional dance school associated with a world renowned company in the Midwest; and the continuation of professional dance training offered to current Education & Community Engagement students by providing scholarship assistance to those without the financial means to pursue their dance interests.  Housed in the Joffrey Tower - the new home of The Joffrey Ballet - the Academy of Dance will enjoy one of the most advanced facilities for dance. With approximately 12,000 square feet of space the Academy of Dance will operate out of the new Exelon Education Center, which is the current home of Joffrey’s education and outreach programs.This expanded studio and rehearsal space will provide students a place for comprehensive hands-on training, learning and creative expression, as well as more access to The Joffrey’s artistic staff and dancers, and exposure to a professional dance environment.

“Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet is the only training center endorsed, owned and operated by Chicago’s premiere dance company," comments Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway. “The Exelon Education Center at Joffrey Tower is the most advanced facility for dance training in the United States.”

“Exelon has been a leading and long-standing supporter of The Joffrey Ballet, recognizing its status as one of the city’s revered cultural institutions,” said William Von Hoene, Exelon executive vice president and general counsel, and Joffrey Ballet Board member.  “We congratulate The Joffrey on this wonderful new location and the organization’s strong commitment to dance education, training and community outreach.” 

Academy of Dance Programs:

Community Open Classes offer training to students, age three through adult. Children’s community classes will provide basic training for toddlers to teens in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and Latin dance techniques. These classes are designed to make dance exciting and engaging, yet still technically challenging. The adult community classes are created for adults age twelve and up, beginning through professional.  Classes include instruction in ballet, jazz, tap, Pilates, African, Latin, contemporary and two workout classes, “Keep Fit Jazz Workout” and “Keep Fit Ballet Workout.”

The Pre-professional Training Program is designed to prepare dancers for a professional career.  This program features a curriculum created and led by Wheater and taught by some of the world’s most sought-after faculty, including the artistic staff of The Joffrey Ballet. The program includes classes in ballet technique, pointe, pas de deux, character, male virtuosity, contemporary, core strengthening/stretch, Lester HortonTechnique, Latin and jazz.  The Pre-Professional Training Program will also include special classes in Bournonville Technique, Dance History, Looking at the World through Art and Dance Careers, and a Parents Class that will educate parents about dance as a career. 

The Trainee Program, scheduled to begin in the fall of 2009, is a program that will specifically meet the needs of 17- through 20-year-olds who seek to take the next steps towards a professional dance career.  Daily technique classes, pointe, pas de deux, character, male virtuosity, repertoire in classical and contemporary styles, as well as other dance disciplines are all a part of this professional program.  The comprehensive program will prepare students to transition into the professional world of dance and, with the guidance of the Joffrey staff, will help prepare each student for their career as a dancer.  Curriculum topics include auditions, teaching, business matters and finances.
Participation in the Trainee Program is by invitation only from Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater.  Auditions for the trainee program will be held in the spring and summer of 2009.  International Exchange Scholarships will also be available through this program.

Students will be evaluated during the first weeks of all classes to ensure proper placement, and evaluations will continue throughout the semesters to ensure continued accurate placement.  A formal written evaluation will be given to each student at the end of the year with placement for the next semester.

In 1956, Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino created a uniquely American company of dancers for whom they choreographed original and relevant ballets, commissioned works from the finest young choreographers (many of whom were given their first national exposure by The Joffrey), and meticulously reconstructed some of the early masterworks of 20th century repertoire.  Dance historians acknowledge that these two men set a new standard in ballet, presenting work that was accessible and meaningful, classically disciplined, and brimming with infectious spirit.  They were pioneers whose innovations and discoveries continue to influence ballet companies across the globe.  Robert Joffrey was first and foremost a teacher. The establishment of the Academy of Dance will honor his legacy by preserving and promoting ballet through classical technique training.
For more information about The Joffrey Ballet; the Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet; and the Company’s current productions please call 312-739-0120 or visit

About The Joffrey Ballet
Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.  Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater who was recruited as a dancer in 1985 by Joffrey and Arpino before returning to lead the company in 2007 after a heralded tenure at San Francisco Ballet.  The Joffrey Ballet has become one of the world's most revered and recognizable arts organizations in America and one of the top ballet companies in the world. 

About Exelon
Exelon Corporation is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with more than $19 billion in annual revenues.  The company has one of the industry’s largest portfolios of electricity generation capacity, with a nationwide reach and strong positions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.  Exelon distributes electricity to approximately 5.4 million customers in northern Illinois and Pennsylvania and natural gas to approximately 480,000 customers in the Philadelphia area.  Exelon is headquartered in Chicago and trades on the NYSE under the ticker EXC.
In the last five years, Exelon’s corporate citizenship program, “Energy for the Community,” has donated nearly $115 million to charitable organizations.  That commitment has helped Exelon earn recognition as one of the nation’s “most admired” electric and gas utilities by FORTUNE magazine.  One of the company’s highest priorities in community involvement is to encourage and support the development of educational, environmental opportunities in the communities it serves.  A long-standing supporter of The Joffrey Ballet, Exelon has worked for over four years with The Joffrey Ballet and its Exelon Strobel Step-Up Program. The Joffrey Ballet’s Exelon Strobel Step-Up Program is a rigorous scholarship program offered to promising high school students within The Joffrey’s Education & Community Engagement (ECE) Programs.