Joffrey Ballet looking to establish school in the northern suburbs

June 7, 2012
Crain's Chicago Business
Shia Kapos

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Three years after settling into its new digs in the Loop, the Joffrey Ballet is looking to expand its dance school into the northern suburbs.

“We're running out of space downtown,” Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway says. “We have so many students who commute in from the suburbs, we really want a presence there.” (Read about the Joffrey's recent gala here.)

The Joffrey is working with Henry Lee and Dan McCarthy of Jones Lang LaSalle to find a north or northwest location of 15,000 square feet specifically for its Academy of Dance.

It would be the company's first suburban branch.

The Joffrey would keep its administrative offices, performance theater and studios at its anchor building on State Street in the Loop.

The new studios would be a part of the dance company's education program. Along with training middle-school and high-school ballet students, Mr. Conway envisions a new studio being able to have "mommy and me" and other creative movement classes.

Mr. Conway says the Joffrey has about 400 students in its current studio. Some of them will stay at the downtown location after the new facility opens.

“But all those classes are oversubscribed and we have huge waiting lists,” says Mr. Conway, noting the hope is to find a new location that could accommodate 800 more students.

The effort, led in part by board members Lorna Ferguson, a manager of fund board relations at Nuveen Investments, and Ron Waters, the retired CEO of LoJack Corp.

Mr. Conway says the Joffrey “is open to most anything” in terms of buildings.

“We just don't like support columns,” he says. “It's our biggest challenge.”