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Joffrey Ballet names winners of choreographic competition
2018-11-14

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CHICAGO — November 14, 2018 — The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, announces the recipients of the ninth annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition: Tommie-Waheed Evans, Marissa Osato, Xiang Xu and Edgar Zendejas. This announcement follows a national call for ALAANA ( African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American ) artists to submit applications, which began in June. The choreographers' world premiere works will be showcased on the members of the Joffrey Studio Company and the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program. Winning Works returns to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's Edlis Neeson Theater ( 220 E. Chicago Avenue ) for three performances, Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM and Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 PM. Tickets for Winning Works are $25 and now available for purchase at joffrey.org/winningworks .

The Winning Works Choreographic Competition was created to recognize talented and emerging ALAANA choreographers and to provide them with a platform to showcase their original and innovative work. The winning choreographers are awarded a $5,000 stipend and are given the opportunity to seek guidance from The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, Ashley Wheater, and Head of Studio Company and Trainee Program Raymond Rodriguez.

"This year's applicants surpassed our expectations, opening our eyes to the future of Winning Works and the development of emerging choreographers," said Wheater. "Enthusiasm for this competition is growing and that is exciting for everyone, especially the artists who participate each season."

"In addition to receiving a record number of applications, the range of talent and innovation was some of the strongest we've seen over the last nine years," added Rodriguez. "It is a wonderful indication of where we are and where we hope to be as we approach our tenth anniversary of Winning Works in 2020."

Tommie-Waheed Evans hails from Los Angeles California. His professional appearances include the popular sitcom The Parkers, The Emmy Awards, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Lula Washington Dance Theater, The Philadelphia Dance Company ( Philadanco ) and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. He has set choreography on BalletX, Verb Ballets, Eleone Dance Theatre, Boston Conservatory, The University of the Arts, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Philadanco. Evans is currently the Artist-in-Residence at Philadanco and on faculty at the University of the Arts.

A Los Angeles native, Marissa Osato is a choreographer, director, and dance educator who creates emotionally-driven, embodied narratives to find cross-cultural universality within shared experiences. Using a hybrid language of contemporary, jazz, and street dance techniques, Osato's choreography exhibits a sense of groundedness and abandon, of rhythm and dynamism, of stillness and intimacy. Osato is the co-founder/co-artistic director of Entity Contemporary Dance, an L.A.-based dance company that has taught workshops and performed original repertory in the U.S. and Asia. Osato earned an M.F.A. in Choreography from California Institute of the Arts, and a B.A. in Dance and B.A. in Literary Journalism from the University of California, Irvine. As a dancer and choreographer, Osato has worked with musical artists such as Coldplay, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Patti LaBelle, and Chaka Khan. Osato has taught and set choreography at over 50 studios and colleges across the U.S., and has held master classes in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Guam, and South America. As the 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards winners, Osato and co-director, Will Johnston, will be premiering a new evening length work for Entity Contemporary Dance in Los Angeles March 2019. More information can be found at www.marissaosato.com .

Xiang Xu is an international choreographer, dancer and instructor based in New York City. He holds an M.F.A. in Dance from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and has served as adjunct faculty and guest artist at Syracuse University and Santa Monica College. In 2015 he established the Xiang Xu Dance Theater. Xiang grew up in China and earned his B.A. at Beijing Dance Academy. While studying there, he won numerous awards including the Gold Lion top prize in choreography at the Singapore World Music Dance and Instrument Competition. After coming to the U.S., Xiang choreographed dance works and performed at UCLA's Royce Hall, York College Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center, and the David Logan Center for the Arts Chicago. Xiang's academic paper "Exploration of the Historical and Cultural Aspects of Yuanchangbu" was published by the Asian Journal of Humanity, Art and Literature, and his book "Exploration of the Foot-Binding in Chinese Classical Dance" has been published in both Chinese and English language editions. In 2016 he performed at the Queensboro Dance Festival in New York and led a dance residency for choreographers at the Deeply Rooted Dance Theater in Chicago. In 2017, he was selected to dance in the Cunningham Repertory Workshop.

Mexican-born Edgar Zendejas danced for Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Giordano Dance Chicago. Zendejas' work won him commissions for bjm_danse, Jacob's Pillow, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, DanceWorks Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, NorthWestDanceProject, Ballet Hispanico, State Street Ballet, Eisenhower Dance, Santa Barbara Dance Theatre and Richmond Ballet, among others. In 2010, Zendejas won the Hubbard Street 2 National Choreographic Competition and was a finalist for the GENESIS competition with Milwaukee Ballet. In 2012, he won the Outstanding Choreographer Award from Youth America Grand Prix. As an interpreter, Zendejas had the opportunity to work with choreographers like David Parsons, Twyla Tharp, Ulysses Dove, Mia Michaels, Jennifer Muller, Alonzo King, James Kudelka, Rodrigo Pederneiras, Benoît Lachambre, Crystal Pite and Aszure Barton. Zendejas explores new areas of choreographic collaboration with the National Circus School in Montreal as a creation director. He has worked with Starlight Circus in Switzerland, Franco Dragone Productions in China, and Cirque du Soleil as an artistic consultant and choreographer. The language of Zendejas's movement is seductive. Colored by his Mexican heritage, the movement explores the qualities of the human soul with humor and delicacy. His vision of a better world through choreography was realized in January 2006 when he founded EZDANZA.

Ticket Information

Tickets for Winning Works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's Edlis Neeson Theater are $25 and now available at joffrey.org/winningworks. Performances take place on Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM and Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 PM.

About the Joffrey Studio Company

The Joffrey Studio Company is a scholarship program of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet. The Joffrey Studio Company consists of outstanding students selected by Joffrey Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Head of Studio Company and Trainee Program Raymond Rodriguez. The Joffrey Studio Company and Trainees have performed on some of the most prestigious stages, including Lincoln Center in NY, the Auditorium Theatre, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Cadillac Palace Theatre and MCA Stage in Chicago, Music Hall in LA, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and more. The individualized training and performance opportunities provided by the Joffrey Studio Company offers students unique insight into the life of a professional dancer, assisting students in preparation for a professional career in dance and helping them expand their technique and artistry.

—From a Joffrey press release

About the Joffrey Academy Trainees

The Joffrey Academy Trainee Program is a one to two-year program for students ages 17 and older who are preparing for a professional dance career. Students are selected to participate in the Trainee Program by invitation from Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and the Head of Studio Company and Trainee Program Raymond Rodriguez. This esteemed and rigorous program gives students a unique and well-rounded experience to prepare them for the next step in their careers. Trainees rehearse and perform classical and contemporary works from The Joffrey Ballet's extensive repertoire and have the opportunity to work with guest choreographers throughout the year. Graduates of the Academy have gone on to dance professionally with companies throughout the world including The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Dresden Semperoper, Complexions, Milwaukee Ballet, Memphis Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, BalletMet, Polish National Ballet, Slovak National Ballet, and many more.

The Joffrey Ballet gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Winning Works Sponsors Eric C. Schieber, MD, and William Blair with Joffrey Board Member Rita Spitz. William Blair is a premier global boutique with expertise in investment banking, investment management, and private wealth management.


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