Pierre Lockett Steps Down as Joffrey Ballet Director of Community Engagement; Will Continue to Consult with Company

June 23, 2014



(June 23, 2014) It was announced today that Pierre Lockett, former Joffrey Ballet dancer and current Director of Community Engagement, will be stepping down from this position after 25 years of service to the organization.   He will serve as a consultant for the Joffrey’s Community Engagement Programs through 2015, and will spearhead the campaign to find his successor. 


"Pierre Lockett's commitment to Chicago's youth is both inspired and inspiring.  His work with students in the classroom, studio, and beyond has transformed lives and as a result has made our city stronger. As a dancer and educator he embraces discipline, commitment, and joy," said Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director.


Lockett, 54, departs the Joffrey to continue his extensive work with youth in Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District and service organization with the intention to bring dance to children who are not typically exposed to the art form. He expects to concentrate his efforts in the Bronzeville community (where he resides), partnering with the Mandrake Park, Quads Community Development Center, and several schools in the area.


“I am proud of my legacy at the Joffrey and the impact the Community Engagement team has had on thousands of students.  I am fully aware of the influence that dance has had on my life and I am committed to helping others have the same experience,” said Lockett.  Aside from the physical connections associated with dance, he feels that dance also helps develop important life skills: discipline, confidence, respect, teamwork and knowledge of self.  “I see dance as a catalyst that can be used to transform lives, inspire imagination and increase possibilities.”


Lockett’s dance career spans an impressive 32 years with 25 dedicated to the Joffrey as a performer and dance education champion.  A dynamic performer who captivated audiences for 20 years, Lockett danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem from 1982-88, The Princeton Ballet from 1988-1989 and the Joffrey from 1989 – 2002.  After retiring from dance, he joined the Joffrey’s administrative staff in 2002 as a Development Associate.  Shortly thereafter, he took over the Community Engagement programs and was soon promoted to director in 2004.  “Bringing dance to the youth of Chicago has helped me realize that my true passion was not on the stage but in the classroom and in the studio.”


"Pierre leaves a lasting legacy both at the Joffrey Ballet and on Chicago's vital dance community.  We are thrilled that his work will continue and that the Community Engagement program that he has built over the past 12 years will be a partner in his new initiatives.  ‘Mr. Pierre’ (as he is known to his students) gives new meaning to the term ‘ballet master’ - his integrity, humanity, and bright smile are a gift to all that encounter him," said Greg Cameron, Joffrey Ballet executive director.


“Through the programs at The Joffrey Ballet, I was able to realize my dreams of dancing professionally. Pierre takes time to develop the mental, emotional, and physical prowess of his students.  He is helping to create well-functioning and positive contributors to the larger society. Meeting Pierre and working with the Community and Engagement program was truly life changing,” added Aaron White, a former student who recently received his Masters in Dance from New York University and is a current teacher and dancer.  


The Joffrey’s Community Engagement department is a signature of the company, through which the Joffrey provides arts education to over 5,000 students from underserved neighborhoods throughout Chicago.  Approximately 86% of the program’s participants come from low-income households and participate in the Chicago Public Schools’ free or reduced lunch program. The demographics of the students in outreach programs are: 47% Black; 39% Hispanic; 6% Caucasian; 7% Asian; and 1% Other/Multiracial.  The Joffrey’s Community Engagement programs are often the only fine arts programs available to students in Chicago Public Schools. Through these programs, the students not only receive dance instruction and performance opportunities to foster a life-long learning in the arts, but also access to world class dance performances as the Joffrey provides participating students tickets to its repertory programs.


Lockett is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award for Dance, 1984 and the Black Theatre Alliance/Ira Aldridge Award for Best Performance in a Music or Dance Program 1999.  In June of 2006, he received the Artist of the Year Award from The Hyde Park School of Ballet.  In November of 2009, he received Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Award for his commitment to the growth and vitality of helping neighborhoods achieve excellence.  He has also served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and The City of Chicago’s Community Arts Assistance Program (CAAP).  Other credits include numerous commercial, television and movie appearances including Save the Last Dance and The Company.  He has served as Master of Ceremonies for a number of children’s dance concerts including Wheeling High School’s, Aids Benefit Dance Concert 2004 and the Joffrey’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, Come Dance With Us in Chicago’s Millennium Park.



The Joffrey Ballet celebrates 20 years of the company calling Chicago home with its 2014-15 anniversary season. Launching September 18-21, 2014, with a one-weekend-only engagement of two Joffrey repertory favorites -- George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son and Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden, along with the Joffrey/Chicago Premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s Asian-themed RAkU -- the  20th Anniversary season features both company favorites and a slate of eight premieres.  For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs please visit joffrey.org.