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The Joffrey Academy’s Winning Works Free Weekend

In collaboration with the Chicago Public Library, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, which is the Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, will present four world premieres in the seventh annual Winning Works program.

The Winning Works program is the culmination of Joffrey’s national call for ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American) artists to submit applications for the Joffrey Academy’s Seventh Annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition. This year’s Competition winners – Shannon Alvis, Sean Aaron Carmon, Karen Gabay and Jimmy Orrante each have choreographed an original work created at the Joffrey Academy Trainees and Studio Company.

The Joffrey Academy of Dance’s Winning Works program is presented at the Cindy Pritzker Theater, Chicago Public Library Harold Washington Center, 400 South State Street, over three performances only: Saturday, March 11, at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM and Sunday, March 12 at 2:00 PM.

“The artistry and diversity of the Winning Works choreographers provide an inspiring look at the world in which we live allowing us to deepen our understanding of the art form,” said Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet. “The Winning Works program is an invaluable experience for our Joffrey Trainees and Studio Company, providing them the opportunity to grow artistically and perform works created by important voices of today.”

“Winning Works empowered me as a female choreographer,” said Mariana Oliveira, 2016 Winning Works Choreographer. “Being a part of this program has opened many other doors for my career. It was a pleasure to work with fearless young talent. I will always hold this experience close to my heart.”

Shannon Alvis Headshot by Joris Jan Bos Photography 2
Shannon Alvis

Shannon Alvis is originally from Greenwood, Indiana and received her training at Butler University and the University of Utah. She began her career with the second company of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC), then went on to dance and perform professionally with HSDC for nine years. In 2009, Ms. Alvis went on to further her growth as a dancer at Nederlands Dans Theater under the direction of Jim Vincent and Paul Lightfoot.

Her world premiere for the Joffrey Academy of Dance – “Moonlight” – is a contemporary piece with five men and five women featuring solo and partner work set to music by Debussy. “Moonlight” is inspired by the poem “Clair de Lune” by Paul Verlaine, and expresses the beautiful potential that lies within each of the dancers.

Sean Carmon Headshot by Andrew Eccles
Sean Aaron Carmon

Sean Aaron Carmon is originally from Texas and joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2011 and has performed major solos and featured roles in ballets by many notable choreographers. His choreography has been performed all across the U.S. and internationally and is lauded as “everything and then some…”, “powerful,” and “seriously flawless” by major national print and online publications such as The New York Times,  News– week, JET Magazine, Broadway Black, Dance Spirit, and Dance Magazine.

His world premiere for the Joffrey Academy of Dance – Suite Hearts explores young love in all its varieties — romantic, friendly, playful, emotional, heartbreak, resilience, and the interconnectivity between each. This piece will be performed by six men and 10 women.

Karen Gabay Headshot by Thomas Hassingbw
Karen Gabay

Karen Gabay grew up in San Diego and has had a career as a ballerina that spans over 35 years. Ms. Gabay made her professional debut at the age of 18 as a principal dancer with Ballet San Jose (BSJ). Her repertoire includes Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake,” Giselle in the title role and her favorite role of Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” As a choreographer, she created numerous ballets for the company including the 2012 production of BSJ’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” which led to her first children’s book, “The Nutcracker: A Story in Verse.” Gabay is the co-founding Artistic Director of her own ballet troupe, Pointe of Departure, which performs in the Bay area and in Northeast Ohio.

Her world premiere for the Joffrey Academy features 10-15 dancers with the women dancing en pointe. The concept of the piece explores the lives of coming-of-age teenagers and will feature a combination of classical and neo classical ballet, acting, and theatrics.

Jimmy Orrante Headshot by Zaire Kacz bw
Jimmy Orrante

Jimmy Orrante is a native of Los Angeles and has danced with Nevada Ballet Theatre, Memphis Ballet, and 20 years with BalletMet where he had the opportunity to choreograph 15 premieres for the company. In addition to BalletMet, he has created ballets for Ballet Austin, Motion Dance Theatre, Rochester City Ballet, Ballet Arkansas, Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi, and UC Irvine’s National Choreographers Initiative. Mr. Orrante’s repertoire includes two full-length ballets, The Great Gatsby, which premiered with BalletMet in 2009 and was reprised in 2015, and the children’s ballet “The Ugly Duckling” for Rochest-
er City Ballet.

His world premiere for the Joffrey Academy features six men and six women with the women dancing en pointe. The movement is inspired by the energy within the music, a combination of cascading momentum and a more formal, processional quality.

“The Joffrey is honored to collaborate with the Chicago Public Library Harold Washington Library Center for the first time to present this meaningful and innovative program,” said Greg Cameron, Executive Director of The Joffrey Ballet. “We are grateful for the support of Brian Bannon, Chicago Library Commissioner, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel as we embark on fulfilling our shared mission and commitment to empowering the community through dance and storytelling.”

“By co-hosting these ambitious programs with The Joffrey Ballet, we are remaining dedicated to supporting lifelong learning for patrons of all ages, in this case, through performing arts,” said Brian Bannon, Chicago Public Library Commissioner. “We hope to inspire people of all backgrounds and ages to engage with both the Joffrey and the library in new and exciting ways.”

Ticket Information

Tickets for “Winning Works” at the Chicago Public Library Harold Washington Library Center are FREE. Tickets can be reserved at

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