THE JOFFREY BALLET ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF THE CHOREOGRAPHERS OF COLOR AWARD Three aspiring choreographers will present World Premieres at the Harris Theater, March 1, 2014

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The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, is pleased to announce the winners of the third annual Choreographers of Color Award:  Justin AllenStefanie Batten Bland and Norbert De La Cruz III.  This announcement follows a national call for artists to submit applications, which began in July.

The Choreographers of Color Award was created to recognize promising young minority choreographers whose diverse perspective will ignite creativity in the field of dance.  Each of the three selected choreographers will be given a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours to set a new work on the Joffrey Academy Trainees.  Each winning choreographer will also receive a $2,500 stipend and an opportunity to work directly with Joffrey Academy Artistic Directors, Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.  The three World Premieres will be presented in Winning Works: Choreographers of Color Awards 2014 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, in one performance only, Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater stated: “Gesture and movement likely preceded speech as the first form of human communication.  Even now, though we have developed languages as diverse as the people who populate the earth, dance remains a ‘universal’ language.  People from all backgrounds dance, and communicate, without sharing words.  Dance is a powerful bridge.  With Choreographers of Color, we celebrate all that is different and all that is universal amongst us.”

Stefanie Batten Bland, from New York City, adds to Mary Batten and Ed Bland’s artistic legacy of liertature and music with her own layer of dance. She has been recognized as a 2010-12 Baryshnikov Arts Center Artist in Residence and a Jerome Robbins “NEW Fellow,” and a 2011-12 Cambridge Who’s Who of Professionals and Entrepreneurs.  Bland has danced for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Pal Frenak, Georges Momboye, Pina Bausch Tanz Theater Wuppertal, Lar Lubovitch, Julie Taymor and Angelin Preljocaj, among others.  She created Company Stefanie Batten Bland in 2008 in France so that she might better investigate the human condition and our relationship within the natural world.  Her works are based in dance, with a strong instillation component which allows futuristic worlds to take place in space and time. The troupe has performed live and via dance cinema, throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the States.  Bland has also set pieces on Ailey ll, Danceland of Singapore, Zenon Dance Company of Minneapolis and is currently guest choreographer for Transitions Dance Company of London.

Justin Allen was born in Baltimore, Maryland and began his dance training at the Baltimore School for the Arts.  In 2004, he began his training at The Rock School for Dance Education and completed his education in the Rock Academics Program Alliance.  From 2004 to 2008, he spent his summers training with the Miami City Ballet School.  In 2008, Allen received his first opportunity to dance as a professional guest artist with The Dayton Ballet, which led to him receiving his first professional contract.  In 2009, he joined The Ballet Theatre of Maryland where he performed as a soloist and in 2010 he became full time faculty and a choreographer at The Rock School.

Norbert De La Cruz III was born in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines and raised in Los Angeles, California.  He began his artistic journey at 13 years of age by training at the Gabriella Foundation in LA, The LA County High School for the Arts, ABT NYC, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Lines Ballet, NWPDP, NDT Summer Course.  Cruz graduated from The Juilliard School in 2010 with a B.F.A. in dance.  Upon graduation, he balanced a career as a professional dancer, photographer, and emerging choreographer.  Cruz has danced professionally as a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera House, Aszure Barton & Artists, Jchen Project, Balletto Teatro di Torino (Italy), Gallim, Sydney Skybetter & Associates, Lustig Dance Theatre, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.  He has performed works by some of our world’s most current and historically renowned teachers and choreographers including Jose Limon, David Parker, Adam Hougland, Johannes Wieland, Ohad Naharin, Aszure Barton, Jerome Robbins, Larry Keigwin, Jeremy McQueen, Jessica Chen, Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Lightfoot & Leon, Crystal Pite, Alonzo King, and Jiri Kylian.  Cruz was awarded the 2012 Jerome Robbins Foundation’s NEW Essential Works Grant – commissioning his first ballet with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB).  He was also the 2012-2013 finalist winner of Hubbard Street 2’s National Choreographic Competition and received the 2012 Princess Grace Foundation Award Fellowship under choreography – granting his second creation for ASFB.  As a result, he received the 2013-2014 Alvin Ailey New Directions Choreography Lab under the mentorship of Igal Perry and guidance and host of Mr. Robert Battle.  He continues to pursue his passion in choreography and movement and thrives to continue dancing with a high emphasis on his artistry as a means to manifest progressive change in the dance world.

The Winning Works program will also include a restaging of Le Roi S’Amuse by Alexei Kremnev.

Ticket Information

Tickets for the Choreographers of Color Award 2014: Winning Works at the Harris Theater are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and will be available as of January 13, 2014 by calling the Harris Theater Box Office at 312-334-7777 or online at


About the Joffrey Academy Trainees

Students are selected to participate in the Trainee Program by invitation from The Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater, and Academy Artistic Directors, Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.  The Trainee Program is a rigorous program in which students train in ballet and other dance disciplines.  Graduates from this program have been accepted into ballet companies around the world, including The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Estonian National Ballet, Polish National Ballet, Staatsballet Berlin, Dresden Semperoper, Atlanta Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet Met, Richmond Ballet, Complexions and many more.

Trainees rehearse and perform classical and contemporary works from The Joffrey Ballet’s extensive repertoire and have the opportunity to work with world-renowned guest choreographers.

For more information on the Academy Trainees of the Joffrey Ballet, or other programs at the Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet, please visit