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The Joffrey Ballet Announces 2023 Winners of its Winning Works Choreographic Competition

Tickets on sale now for five performances over one weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater, March 16-19, 2023 CHICAGO – NOVEMBER 1, 2022 – The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, announces the recipients of its 13th annual Winning Works: Natasha Adorlee, Christopher D’Ariano, Kameron Saunders, and Mike Tyus, following a national call for ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American) artists.

The choreographers’ world premiere works will be performed by the dancers of the Joffrey Studio Company and the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program. With an additional performance added this year due to popular demand, Winning Works will be presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater (220 E. Chicago Avenue) Thursday and Friday, March 16 and 17 at 7:30 PM, Saturday, March 18 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 PM. Tickets for Winning Works are $30 and are currently on sale at joffrey.org/winningworks. The world premiere works will also be available to view virtually following the in-person performances.

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. Adorlee, D’Ariano, Saunders, and Tyus will be awarded a $5,000 stipend and given the opportunity to create new works under the mentorship of The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet Ashley Wheater MBE and Abbott Academy Director Raymond Rodriguez. "Winning Works is actively shaping the future of dance, with an exceptional track record of launching professional dance careers,” says Wheater. "Over its 13-year history, I have seen the best and brightest in the next generation soar to new heights, with works that push the envelope of dance.” Past Winning Works artists include Chanel DaSilva, whose contemporary work colōrem recently received its world premiere by The Joffrey Ballet (October 2022); Amy Hall Garner, choreographer of the new feature-length, touring production Rita Finds Home (July 2022); and Stephanie Martinez, the first Winning Works winner to create a mainstage work Bliss! (February 2020). "Each year, the Winning Works choreographic competition grows our commitment to a Joffrey for All," added Greg Cameron, Joffrey Ballet President & CEO. "The return of past winners to our main stage and their impressive work across creative industries shows the power of this platform to elevate new voices. Their groundbreaking performances will be accessible to all audiences via hybrid in-person performances and digital streaming.” "Winning Works is an established point of pride for Joffrey and the Joffrey Academy," added Rodriguez. "The breadth of experience of this year’s winners is truly exciting and shows how the program continues to draw the most innovative artists-on-the-rise today. Audiences will recognize the diversity of backgrounds and styles in this year’s cohort, and we are excited to see how they shape the legacy of Winning Works moving forward.”

About the 2023 Winning Works Winners

Natasha Adorlee is a choreographer and multi-disciplinary artist from San Francisco. Originally from Overland Park, Kansas, Adorlee attended UC Berkeley before becoming a full-time professional dancer in the Bay Area. Over the last 15 years, she has danced with Robert Moses' Kin, Kate Weare Company (New York), and ODC/Dance, where she was an Isadora Duncan Dance Award Recipient for her performance in Two If By Sea. Off the stage, Adorlee has created several works for the screen through her non-profit Concept o4. Her short film Take Your Time (2017) was awarded "Best Short" at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, and she received a Regional Emmy Award for her performance and music composition in the TV Special Baseballet: Into the Game (2018). She continues producing, directing, and expanding her vision of sharing dance through film shorts, live stage, and immersive dance works. In 2022, Adorlee became an Artistic Fellow with Amy Seiwert's Imagery, where she premiered her original dance work Liminal Space for the Sketch 12 Series. In addition to her dance endeavors, Adorlee currently serves as the Director of Film at Ubisoft in San Francisco.

Christopher D’Ariano is from the Bronx, New York. He studied at Ballet Tech, the School of American Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and he attended summer courses at Ballet Tech, Boston Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. At the School of American Ballet, D’Ariano became the recipient of the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise. He joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 2017 and was promoted to corps de ballet in 2018 and soloist in 2022. D’Ariano has danced as a guest artist at Fire Island Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Hudson Valley Dance Festival, and Chop Shop Contemporary Dance Festival. He has choreographed three works for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s NEXT STEP, along with creating a work for Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s annual School Performance. In 2021, D’Ariano choreographed for you for PNB’s digital Season Encore. He has been commissioned to create works for the Seattle AIDS Memorial Pathway, Seattle International Dance Festival, The Seattle Project, and the Seattle Art Museum.

Kameron N. Saunders is from St. Louis. He began his dance training at the Center of Creative Arts and is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a BFA in Dance. Saunders has worked with renowned artists such as Alonzo King, Matthew Rushing, Chloe Arnold, Ava Bernstine-Mitchell, Sean Bankhead, Fatima Robinson, Ken Page, Danielle Polanco, Martha Nichols, among others. In 2018, Saunders was selected for the Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellowship at Jacob’s Pillow, and in 2020, he was awarded the Passion Project Grant from the Jaquel Knight Foundation. Saunders presented a world premiere with Dallas Black Dance Theatre titled Black in Time and choreographed for artist Rashaad Newsome’s exhibit and performance ASSEMBLY at the Park Avenue Armory, NYC. Saunders is a featured dancer in “Spirited,” a musical film starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell; “The Color Purple” musical film; the “Booty” music video with Saucy Santana and Latto; and performed with Lizzo on the BET Awards. Saunders was recently announced as a 2022 Princess Grace Award winner in choreography and is currently on the Special tour with Saucy Santana opening for Lizzo.

Mike Tyus is an award-winning dancer, choreographer, and creative director from Los Angeles, who has been performing and creating dance works for the stage and screen for over 15 years. Tyus toured with Cirque Du Soleil in “IRIS” and “KOOZA,” and joined Pilobolus Dance Theater in 2013 performing works by Sidi Larbi Cherkoui, Penn & Teller, and Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack, while also creating company repertory that is still performed today. He is a founding member of Jacob Jonas The Company and an Associate Producer for Films.Dance, a platform focused on dance film creation through unconventional collaboration. Tyus’ choreography draws from techniques and styles in circus theater, acrobatics, ballet, and Greco-Roman wrestling. He has created works for dance companies, museums, popstars, and universities, including The Broad Museum, The Wende Museum, Visceral Dance Chicago, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Ziru Dance, Utah University, Vasser College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CLI by Teddy Forance, and The Lines Ballet Training Program. In 2020, Tyus created Mike Tyus & Co, a dance company that focuses on the creation of Tyus’ work with over 13 films including “Hunger,” developed at Orsolina28, and “ELSEWHERE” at Whim W’him Contemporary Dance Company. Tyus choreographed a Facebook commercial directed by FKA Twigs that lives in the Museum of Modern Art archives, in addition to choreographing music videos for Nigerian pop star Adekunle Gold and branded campaigns for Vaara, Anthropologie, Veuve Clicquot, Club Monaco, SONY, Apple, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Ticket Information

Tickets for Winning Works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater are $30 and can be purchased at joffrey.org/winningworks. Performances take place on Thursday and Friday, March 16 and 17 at 7:30 PM, Saturday, March 18 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 PM. About The Joffrey Academy of Dance Founded in 2010, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, provides students of all ages, levels, and backgrounds with a world-class education, built on a foundation of classical ballet. Based in the heart of Chicago’s theater district, the 20,000 square foot Exelon Education Center at Joffrey Tower, home to the Academy, boasts four state-of-the-art studios and facilities.