Joffrey Ballet Expands Studio Space and Presence to South Loop Neighborhood, Boosting Access to Dance Education
CHICAGO May 11, 2021 – The Joffrey Ballet is pleased to announce the establishment of new studio space and training facilities at 1920 South Wabash Avenue (formerly the Chicago Dance Academy studios), expanding the Joffrey’s reach to the South Loop and beyond, and marking a major step towards the completion of the organization’s five-year “Joffrey for All” strategic plan.
“A foundational principle of the Joffrey mission that dates back to Robert Joffrey himself is that dance is for everyone,” said Joffrey Board Chair Anne Kaplan. “The Joffrey is focused on the growth and expansion of the Joffrey Academy and Joffrey Community Engagement to make Joffrey education even more accessible. By widening our presence beyond our State Street studios at Joffrey Tower, the Joffrey is making a significant investment in our students, teachers, and community, which is also an investment in the cultural vitality of Chicago and its future arts leaders.”
Chicago Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell added: “The Joffrey’s expansion to the South Loop is another sign that Chicago’s Third Ward is a destination for lively, energetic culture and community building that encourages a diverse range of people, voices, and vocations. We are overjoyed to welcome Chicago’s iconic Joffrey Ballet to the neighborhood, adding to the many cultural institutions that make this particular part of the city so vibrant.”
An Expanded Presence in the South Loop
The expansion of Joffrey’s presence includes the purchase and re-energizing of the former studios of the Chicago Dance Academy, located at 1920 South Wabash Avenue. The space totals 5,314 square feet, with fully equipped studios with sprung floors, harlequin surfaces, and professional-grade sound equipment. The space—which conforms with all American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements—also includes a reception desk and waiting area, as well as two large locker rooms and break room with an expansive foyer, with nearby access to public parking and Chicago Transit Authority Green and Red Lines stops (within a two-block radius) and several CTA bus routes.
Raymond Rodriguez, Abbott Academy Director of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, added: “The additional studio space will allow the Joffrey to hold more classes, support new programs, and continue the positive momentum of the Joffrey Academy in its first 11 years. More students equal more possibilities for company artists, administrators, and teaching artists in the future, as we build upon our work of creating a holistic lifecycle of a dancer. All of us at the Joffrey Academy are thrilled with this opportunity and look forward to being part of the neighborhood.”
Joffrey Tower (10 East Randolph Street) will remain the company’s main headquarters. With its new performance home at the Lyric Opera House situated on the western edge of the downtown business district, this new studio space in the South Loop completes an easily accessible and highly visible triangle of locations. The Joffrey has spent its 25 years in Chicago deepening its roots in the city, building relationships with schools and educators, and providing a world-class dance education to thousands of students.
A Growing Academy and a “Joffrey for All”
In March of 2020, under the leadership of Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director, and Greg Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer, the Joffrey developed a five-year strategic plan, set for completion in 2025, that rebrands educational programming at the Joffrey Academy and Joffrey Community Engagement under the mission “Joffrey for All.”
“Joffrey for All” envisions a three-tiered approach for a holistic Joffrey education, which include:
- Tier 1: A prospective students’ first exposure to dance via Joffrey Community Engagement
- Tier 2: Scholarships and further training at the Joffrey Academy of Dance
- Tier 3: A professional contract with The Joffrey Ballet or other major professional dance company
The establishment of the new Joffrey studios at 1920 South Wabash allows the Joffrey to offer more classes, provide more teaching opportunities, and reach more students in the Chicago region with a passion for dance than at any time in its history, while also increasing revenue through scholarship support.
Linda Swayze, Director of Community Engagement at the Joffrey, added: “The 1920 location is an exciting opportunity to expand our Community Engagement programs within the South Loop area and beyond. Having a presence in the South Loop aligns with Joffrey’s vision of ‘Joffrey for All.’ Being part of the arts community in an area that is closer to Bronzeville, Chinatown, and the soon-to-be-erected Obama Presidential Center allows us to enhance our shared commitment to arts enrichment. Joffrey Community Engagement will be able to offer in-school programming and with programming at Joffrey Tower for students K-12, along with our custom residencies to fit the needs of neighboring schools, as well as our Middle School Dance Program that targets grades 5–8. Student enrichment is a guiding principle in the work of Joffrey Community Engagement, and we look forward to serving and growing with the South Loop community.”
The purchase of 1920 South Wabash is made possible through a group of restricted grants from generous Joffrey donors, ensuring that all funds raised through the Joffrey’s Crisis Stabilization Fund (established at the beginning of the 2020–2021 season to recover lost funds from the COVID-19 pandemic) fully support Joffrey artists, productions, and programs, including those of the Joffrey Academy of Dance and Joffrey Community Engagement activities. No relief funds from federal, state, or local agencies were used in the purchase of 1920 South Wabash.
Partial support is being provided by Sherry and Richard Holson III with Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company. Richard, a member of the Joffrey Board of Directors, commented that “acquiring this space helps Joffrey resolve a strategic and operational challenge of increasing space for training and community programs while managing limited resources prudently. We are proud to be part of a consortium of funders making this possible for one of Chicago’s great cultural organizations.”
Additional support is provided by ITW, a global manufacturing and entrepreneurial leader. Michael Larsen, Joffrey Board Director and Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of ITW, added: “We are proud to support the Joffrey's growth as a premier training program for the next generation of artists, as well as the Joffrey’s role as a valued educational resource in Chicago schools and communities.”