Joffrey Dancer gets Annenberg grant

May 30, 2012
Windy City Media Group

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CHICAGO — May 30, 2012 — The Joffrey Ballet is pleased to announce that dancer Jeraldine Mendoza has received an award of $50,000 from the prestigious national Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund in the Performing and Visual Arts. This marks the first time that the Annenberg Fellowship grant has been given to a performing artist in Chicago since the grant's inception in 2008. The Annenberg Fellowship makes investments in a limited number of exceptionally talented young artists as they begin their professional lives and the grants may be used by the artists to meet their artistic needs as well as the practical needs of their professional and personal lives.

"The Joffrey is honored to have one of its dancers recognized as Chicago's first performing artist to receive the prestigious Annenberg Fellowship," said Joffrey Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway. "This generous gift will allow our artists economic freedom as they hone and grow their craft. This is a gift not only to them and to our company, but also to our audiences as they watch our dancers blossom and prosper."

"To have received such recognition in my first year at The Joffrey Ballet is a true honor," said Mendoza. "There are many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as a Joffrey dancer and this is certainly one of them."

Jeraldine Mendoza, from San Francisco, California, trained at the City Ballet School of San Francisco since the age of five, mainly under the artistic direction of Galina Alexandrova. She received full merit scholarship to the School of American Ballet's Summer Session in 2009 at age 17, and was selected by Helgi Tomasson to become a trainee at San Francisco Ballet that year as well. She was the first American female invited to graduate in the Russian course at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy (now known as Moscow State Academy of Choreography) and graduated with honors. Mendoza later won first place at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) San Francisco Regional Semi-Finals in 2011. Her lead roles include Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Odette in Swan Lake, The Dying Swan in Carnival of the Animals, Odalisque in Le Corsaire, and various principal roles in new ballets made by choreographer Yuri Zhukov. She joined The Joffrey Ballet in 2011.

Structured in three separate program funds — The Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund in the Performing and Visual Arts, the Leonore Annenberg College Scholarship Fund, and the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children — the grants are a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The grants are named in honor of the late Leonore Annenberg, Chief of Protocol in the administration of President Ronald Reagan and wife of the late Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg. Mrs. Annenberg established the grants to support lifelong commitment to the arts, fostered by her desire to provide opportunities for artistic growth and her intention to strengthen American cultural life.

To be eligible for the grant, established artists and American arts institutions identify and recommend candidates to an Annenberg Fellowship Selection Council, which makes the final decisions. Up to ten Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellows are selected each year. Other recipients of this year's Leonore Annenberg Fellowships in the Performing and Visual Arts, whose combined grants total nearly $1 million, include: Tenor Paul Appleby (Metropolitan Opera), actor Eric Berryman (Carnegie Mellon School of Drama), actor Austin Durant (Lincoln Center Theater), soprano Devon Guthrie (The Julliard School), pianist Sullivan Fortner, Jr. (Oberlin Conservatory of Music), Baritone Alex Lawrence (Glimmerglass Opera), actor Bryce Pinkham (Yale School of Drama), violinist Michelle Ross (The Perlman Music Program), and ballet dancer Eric Tamm (American Ballet Theatre).

For more information on the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship please visit www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org and for more information on The Joffrey Ballet visit joffrey.org .