Joffrey Ballet names Mayor Rahm Emanuel honorary board chair

June 16, 2011
TimeOut Chicago
Zachary Whittenburg

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He may have tapped Lane Alexander to be the dance voice on his Arts and Culture Transition Committee, but Rahm Emanuel hasn’t forgotten his early days at the barre. The Joffrey Ballet announces this morning that our freshly-minted mayor was chosen unanimously by the 18 members of its Executive Committee to be its honorary chairman.

“We wanted to honor his commitment to dance,” Joffrey executive director Christopher Clinton Conway tells me by phone, “to really recognize his support, which is real, and knowledgable.” The board invited Emanuel at its spring gala, at which $1.3 million was raised for the company.

Asked how involved Emanuel will be in board efforts, Conway says, “He intends to play an active role, and I’m thrilled,” mentioning that, as head of Jimmy Carter’s fund-raising from 1995–2000, the former president “would take honorary roles, but wouldn’t typically have the ability to participate in the activities of an organization. Since coming back to Chicago, Rahm has attended all of our performances, as well as the gala, so it does mean something. He has an interest, as well as a critical eye for dance, wants to lend his expertise and his wisdom.”

Lest it seem as if our new mayor will fill his days weighing in on casting choices for Infra, Conway adds, “We only have four [board] meetings a year, so it’s not a really onerous commitment.”

The Joffrey recently closed its 2010–11 season at the Auditorium and begins its next October 12–23, with a production of Don Quixote originated at San Francisco Ballet and choreographed after the 19th-century original by Yuri Possokhov. You can also catch the company on August 27 in Millennium Park for free, during the closing night of the 2011 Chicago Dancing Festival.