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Joffrey Ballet Receives $500,000 Grant from Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation

The Joffrey Ballet, led by Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron, announced today that the Company has been awarded a $500,000 challenge grant from the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation expressly to launch an endowment for the creation, production and performance of full-length story ballets. The new Rudolf Nureyev Fund at The Joffrey Ballet, as it will be known, represents one of the largest awarded to a single cultural institution in the Foundation's history, with the Joffrey joining such other high profile organizations as the New York City Ballet, School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and The Joyce Theatre. The Joffrey Ballet will be responsible for raising an additional $1 million to complete the Fund.

"The Board of Directors of the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation believes that The Joffrey Ballet has established a solid foundation on which to develop into a premiere ballet company that can uniquely represent itself and Chicago, nationally and internationally" said Barry L. Weinstein, Board President, Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation. "In the spirit of facilitating this development, the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation has presented a $500,000 challenge grant creating an endowment for the Joffrey to perform full-length ballets on a continuing basis. Both The Joffrey Ballet and the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation are committed to telling stories through the art of ballet."

Founded in 1992, the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation has contributed over $4,000,000 in grants to benefit dance in the United States in memory of Rudolf Nureyev. The Joffrey Ballet has, in the past, received funding from the Foundation for a revival of Nijinsky's L'Apres Midi D'Un Faune in honor of Rudolf Nureyev (1997), for An Evening of Nureyev (2004), and for programming surrounding the company's two-year 50th Anniversary celebration (2005-2006).

"When I was a young dancer with the Royal Ballet and London Festival Ballet, Rudolf Nureyev became a mentor and a friend," said Wheater. "Now, thirty-five years later, through this generous grant from the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation, I find that Rudolf's legacy supports my work still. As a dancer and as a creator, Rudolf had a passion for full-length narrative ballets. Story ballets serve as a great entry point for new audiences to discover dance and for dancers to discover their art. With this grant and the support of matching donors, we have the opportunity to explore what it means to tell a story through dance in the 21stcentury."

"The City of Chicago is proud to have The Joffrey Ballet as one of its many cultural treasures and receiving this recognition from the prestigious Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation further reinforces The Joffrey's influence in the national dance community. Augmenting the Joffrey's ability to create and present more evening-length works will help enrich our cultural landscape and continue to solidify Chicago as our country's dance capital," added the Honorable Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Joffrey Ballet Board of Directors will undertake matching the challenge grant under the leadership of newly appointed Board Chairman Zachary D. Lazar, Jr.

"This past weekend, some 250 children auditioned for roles in the upcoming production of Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker. The Joffrey is committed to creating opportunities for Chicago's children to grow and learn; story ballets are aligned with this mission," said Lazar.

The Joffrey Ballet will present its next full-length story ballet, Stanton Welch's La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer, set in the fairytale-like India of the past at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway, October 16 - 27. Based on Marius Petipa's classic choreography - including the famous Kingdom of Shades scene, which Welch has left intact - Welch breathes new life into a 19th century classic full of the exotic appeal and fantastic mysticism of the Orient, complete with live snakes. La Bayadère is presented over 10 performances with live orchestral accompaniment by the Chicago Philharmonic conducted by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck.

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