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Joffrey Academy Of Dance Launches First Contemporary Dance Track Offered By A Classical Company In The US

Full-time contemporary ballet program launching in fall expands focus on inclusion and pre-professional training opportunities for dancers of all backgrounds.

Joffrey Academy Of Dance Launches First Contemporary Dance Track Offered By A Classical Company In The US

Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, has announced the launch of the Joffrey Academy Contemporary Ballet Trainee Program, the first full-time contemporary ballet training program offered by a classical ballet company in the United States.

The innovative program creates pathways towards professional opportunities in contemporary ballet and will be launched in fall 2022 under new leadership in the Joffrey Academy, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, with the appointment of Katlin Michael ­Bourgeois as the inaugural Head of the Contemporary Ballet Trainee Program and former Joffrey Artist Oğulcan Borova as the new Head of Studio Company and Ballet Trainees. Bourgeois and Borova begin their new roles on August 22, 2022, nearly one year after the Joffrey Academy of Dance opened its new studio space and training facilities at 1920 South Wabash Avenue as part of the Company's "Joffrey for All" strategic growth plan.

The Joffrey's new Contemporary Ballet Trainee Program, the first of its kind for the Joffrey, is intended to cultivate a versatile set of skills for future professionals in the field of professional dance, specifically related to contemporary ballet training. Students will continue to focus on the foundations of classical ballet (technique, pointe work, partnering), in addition to the defining characteristics of contemporary training: improvisation and floor work. The Contemporary Ballet Trainee Program provides dancers a holistic training model that emphasizes a vast range of techniques.

"Katlin and Oğulcan are outstanding teachers and leaders, with long ties to the Joffrey," said Wheater. "Both have a gift for nurturing students and talent, at a time when the models of training are quickly evolving. They are welcoming and inspirational, deeply committed to the Joffrey mission, and uniquely qualified to develop the next generation of cross-disciplinary, world-class dancers. They will be indispensable as the Joffrey shapes the conversations taking place across the dance industry today."

"With the Academy's new studio space in Chicago's South Loop, we are well-positioned to expand our offerings to be inclusive of dancers of all backgrounds and interests, committing ourselves further

To creating a Joffrey for All," added Raymond Rodriguez, Abbott Academy Director of the Joffrey Academy of Dance. "Our vision is to provide students with a range of skills and technique that will help them in whichever direction they take their careers. This is a great step forward in our commitment to training the best and most versatile dances in the world."

Prior to this role, Bourgeois (they/them) served as faculty at the Joffrey Academy for three years training students in contemporary techniques as well as setting choreographic works. They graduated from Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program in 2014 and began a dancing career that allowed them to dance with Dance Theatre of San Francisco, DanceWorks Chicago, FLOCK Works, Hubbard Street 2, M/Motions, The Cambrians, and others. Katlin started their own project dance company, "Ensemble180," in 2018 and has been an active educator locally, regionally, and internationally for almost a decade.

Borova (he/him) joins the Joffrey Academy from the National Ballet of Finland as a Ballet Master. Prior to that he served as a Ballet Master at Cincinnati Ballet. From 2011-2015, he danced with The Joffrey Ballet, where he performed principal roles in the several productions including Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Prodigal Son, and The Nutcracker. He holds several dance awards including a Bronze Medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition, Gold Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition, Gold Medal at the Seoul International Ballet Competition, and High Achievement Recognition from the Dokuz Eylül University, where he studied in the conservatory's dance department.

The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, is committed to providing students of all ages, levels, and backgrounds who have a desire to dance with an exceptional education built on a foundation of classical ballet. The establishment of the Contemporary Ballet Trainee program accompanies the recent opening of the new Joffrey studios in the South Loop, which in its first year has allowed the Joffrey to offer more classes, provide more teaching opportunities, and reach more students in the Chicago region with a passion for dance than at any time in its history, while also increasing revenue through scholarship support.

With the talents cultivated at the Joffrey Academy, students can pursue careers as professional dancers at companies throughout the world, higher education opportunities in dance, or success in other fields. Through the Joffrey Academy's programs, students develop a diverse set of skills including artistry, creativity, discipline, and confidence. The Joffrey Academy's high-quality educational programming forms future audiences and support for the Joffrey and builds the organization's reputation worldwide. The Academy occupies approximately 17,000 square feet between its two locations downtown and in the South Loop. The Academy's state-of-the-art studios meet the highest technical standard of dance flooring and professional-grade sound systems.

The Contemporary Ballet Trainee Program is a direct outcome from the expansive and inclusive "Joffrey for All" strategic plan created in 2020 under the leadership of Wheater and Greg Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Cameron says, "Classical technique is the foundation of what we do at the Joffrey, but part of being an inclusive company is making sure that we are meeting students where they are. Many young and talented dancers want to pursue different types of training. What we offer at the Joffrey should reflect that. By establishing our first-ever contemporary ballet trainee program, we are bringing the inclusive mantra of our founders and our five-year strategic plan into clear focus."

Set for completion in 2025, "Joffrey for All" is a five-year initiative redesigning educational programming at the Joffrey Academy and Joffrey Community Engagement. The mission to create a "Joffrey for All" is supported by a three-tiered approach for a holistic Joffrey education, from a prospective student's first exposure to dance, to scholarships and further training, to a professional contract with The Joffrey Ballet or other major professional dance company.

To learn more about the Joffrey Academy of Dance and its programs visit joffrey.org/academy.

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