Four World Premieres to Be Featured in Joffrey Academy's WINNING WORKS Weekend of Performances

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Four World Premieres to Be Featured in Joffrey Academy's WINNING WORKS Weekend of Performances

The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, will present four world premieres in the culmination of Joffrey's national call for ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American) artists to submit applications for the Joffrey Academy's Tenth Annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition. This year's Competition winners-Chanel DaSilva, Tsai Hsi Hung, Pablo Sánchez and Durante Verzola-each have choreographed an original work created on the Joffrey Academy Trainees and Studio Company. Winning Works expands to four performances in 2020 and returns to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's Edlis Neeson Theater (220 E. Chicago Avenue) Friday, March 20 at 7:30 PM, Saturday, March 21 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Sunday, March 22 at 2:00 PM. Tickets for Winning Works are $30 and available for purchase at joffrey.org/winningworks.

"It has been a decade of exceptional work and brilliant artistry for Winning Works," said Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet. "I am so proud of the creativity of the last ten years. The level of artistic exploration by the choreographers and the growth of our students continues to exceed expectations, and all of us look forward to seeing Winning Works evolve in even bigger ways moving forward."

Joffrey Academy Director Raymond Rodriguez added: "We have added a fourth performance to this year's program to meet demand, and I think that speaks volumes about Winning Works and what it means to the Joffrey, the Joffrey Academy and our choreographers. Our audience wants more, and it is easy to understand why; it does not get much better than seeing a professional program of world-premiere works by a diverse group of established and rising stars."


Chanel DaSilva is a multifaceted artist whose work reflects her deep connection to the transformative power of the arts. A native of Brooklyn, NY, DaSilva is a graduate of LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts and The Juilliard School. DaSilva was a member of the highly celebrated Trey McIntyre Project based in Boise, Idaho. In 2011, DaSilva graced the cover of Dance Magazine and as a part of Brooklyn Academy Of Music's "Dance Motion USA," DaSilva toured throughout Asia with TMP as a cultural ambassador to the United States of America.

Her world premiere for the Joffrey Academy (B O R D E R S) imagines the boundaries-both literal and figurative-that people place on themselves and others. DaSilva challenges the audience to look at how they separate themselves from others in the world, whether through physical means or psychological ones. B O R D E R S features a cast of 15 artists-ten women and five men.

Tsai Hsi Hung graduated from Taipei National University of the Arts 2010. In 2009 she travelled to Australia as an exchange student for the Dance at Queensland Technology University Dance Department. She has worked with the Australian Dance Theater, Tasdance, Expressions Dance Company and Chunky Move Dance Company Dancers.

Her world premiere for the Joffrey Academy (Brushstroke) takes inspiration from the work of designer Alexander McQueen and painter Jackson Pollack. Using "the line" as a central theme, Hung weaves a series of complex textures through movement that create the effect of currents of wind winding around each other. The piece features a cast of ten artists-eight women and two men.

Pablo Sánchez, recipient of the inaugural Zach Lazar Winning Works Fellowship, is currently a Company Dancer with Ballet Memphis in Tennessee, dancing under the direction of Steven McMahon. His first choreographic showing was as a member of IU Ballet Theater's 2009 Choreographic Project, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, Indiana. Upon becoming a member of Atlanta Ballet in 2011, Sánchez was engaged by Dean Sharon Story to create dances for Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education's annual spring and summer student showcases. Sánchez has designed a collection of dances for Stacy Joy Keller at Dancenter North, Gurnee, IL, and for Erica Lynette Edwards, former Director of Community Engagement at The Joffrey Ballet.

Sánchez's premiere celebrates the Joffrey Academy's tenth anniversary year and its ongoing commitment to presenting works by under-represented groups of artists. Sánchez is inspired by his native México in creating a fresh and vibrant work titled ¡VIVA!, using music by composers Manuel Ponce and José Pablo Moncayo. "It's an illustration of Mexican tradition with a splash of the colorful spirit for which México is beloved in our world."

"The Joffrey Ballet has always sparked a sense of joy within me," says Sánchez, "and that is what I wish to impart on the Academy dancers through this project."

Durante Verzola has choreographed works for Pennsylvania Ballet II, Ballet Dallas, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Miami City Ballet School, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Goucher College, School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Peabody Dance, and Ballet Conservatory of South Texas.

His work has been described as "sharp and witty ... so vibrant it is almost like a celebration of classicism and vitality with non-derivative balletic language ... he continues to present classical ballet vocabulary in unfussy, thrilling ways," by Philadelphia Dance. The Philadelphia Dance Journal praised him as "a choreographer on the rise, with a gift for designing space and succeeds at directing moving bodies [with] a sophisticated blend of theatrical flair and carefully crafted movements," and Explore Dance wrote, "For a 20-something choreographer, Verzola startled with his inventiveness via straightforward balletics."

His world premiere for the Joffrey Academy (Ballet De Cour) features a cast of 17 and evokes the courtly nature of classical ballet's 17th Century origins. The piece is danced to music by Frédéric Chopin (based on a theme by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) and steeps itself in neoclassical technique, with the women dancing in pointe shoes. Through the many "micro dramas and stories" inspired by the music, Verzola uses Chopin's lively score to explore the dancer's innate desire to move and express it.

To date, the Joffrey has raised more than $180,000 to support ALAANA choreographers and the presentation of their work for the 2020 Winning Works competition. That number continues to grow, emphasizing the Joffrey's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of dance. The Joffrey is proud of the fact that Winning Works provides complete financial assistance-housing, travel, and work stipend-to all winners. Additionally, the Joffrey does not require an application fee for those interested in applying for the Winning Works competition.

Former winners of the Winning Works competition include Stephanie Martinez (2015), a featured choreographer on the Joffrey's winter program The Times Are Racing; Jeffrey Cirio (2016), current Lead Principal Dancer with the English National Ballet; and Claudia Schreier (2018), Ballet Master to Juilliard President Damian Woetzel.


Tickets for Winning Works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's Edlis Neeson Theater are $30 and available at joffrey.org/winningworks. Performances take place on Friday, March 20 at 7:30 PM, Saturday, March 21 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Sunday, March 22 at 2:00 PM.­




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