New Joffrey Ballet Company Artists Reed Henry, Ao Wang, Jackson Miles, Lindy Mesmer and Lauren Quinn.

New Company Artists include a promotion from the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet.

CHICAGO (September 12, 2023) – The Joffrey Ballet’s Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director and Greg Cameron, President and CEO are pleased to announce the addition of five dancers to the Joffrey roster for the 2023-24 season: Reed Henry (Princeton, New Jersey), Lindy Mesmer (Blacksburg, Virginia), Jackson Miles (Denver, Colorado), Lauren Quinn (Fort Wayne, Indiana), and Ao Wang (Beijing, China).

The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE says, "We are pleased to welcome new dancers Reed, Lindy, Jackson, Lauren, and Ao to the Joffrey. Opening our 68th season with Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein, we embrace the unique artistry and impressive backgrounds these talented young dancers will contribute to the Company, further enriching our repertoire. Our new dedicated group of artists embodies the spirit of innovation that defines the Joffrey, and we look forward to embarking on a new year fueled by the fresh energy and talent they bring." 

“As arts leaders grapple with questions of sustainability across the industry, the Joffrey’s human-centered, artist-centered approach puts the mental and physical wellbeing of our Company Artists above all else,” says Greg Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer. “The expansion of the Company with the addition of five new dancers, as well as our newly renovated facilities with resources ranging from physical therapy to on-site mental health professionals, reflects upon the Joffrey’s thriving and ever-growing ecosystem, from our Community Engagement programs that serve students from every pocket of our city, to the pipeline of talent that the Academy has built into the Company. We are committed to our service as an arts organization, and the indispensable capacity of the arts to move us to compassion and add meaning to our lives.”

About the New Dancers 

Reed Henry was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and began his rigorous ballet training at 13 years old when he joined Ballet Central New Jersey under the guidance of Alexander Dutko and Thiago Silva. He was granted a full scholarship to their pre-professional training program, where he performed lead roles in The Nutcracker, Etudes, and Paquita, as well as contemporary works such as Alexander Dutko’s Venia and Six.  At 15, Henry received a scholarship to attend the San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Patrick Armand and Pascal Molat. He soon became a Trainee with the San Francisco Ballet, and later was invited to dance at Ballet Sun Valley and Assemblée Internationale 2023. While a Trainee, Henry performed lead roles in new works by Myles Thatcher and Dana Genshaft, as well as Val Caniparoli’s Stolen Moments and Davide Occhipinti's Sunhead. He rehearsed and danced Corps de Ballet roles with the company in Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella and Helgi Tommasson’s The Nutcracker, Giselle, and Romeo and Juliet.

Lindy Mesmer, from Blacksburg, Virginia, received her early training from Aleksey Plekahanov and Inessa Plekahanova at Radford University Ballet Youth. She trained on scholarship at the School of American Ballet from 2016-2020, and has been an apprentice at the National Ballet of Canada since 2020, where she has performed in productions such as Balanchine’s Serenade (2021), James Kudelka’s The Nutcracker (2021, 2022), Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty (2022), MacMillan’s Concerto (2022), and Karen Kain’s new production of Swan Song (2023). In 2021, Mesmer performed the principal role in George Balanchine's Raymonda Variations at Chautauqua Institution and was featured in Grace Weber’s music video Thru the Fire feat. Chance the Rapper. In 2019, Mesmer performed with the School at Jacob’s Pillow in their yearly summer gala, and an original work by Alysa Pires at New York Choreographic Institute. Between 2013 and 2016, Lindy placed annually at Youth America Grand Prix regionals and competed each year at the YAGP Finals in New York, winning the Gold Medal in 2014.  

Jackson Miles, from Denver, Colorado, began his ballet training at the Colorado Conservatory of Dance under the direction of Julia Wilkinson Manley. In 2015, Miles enrolled in the Houston Ballet Academy and, in 2019, joined Houston Ballet II (HBII). While in HBII, under the close tutelage of Claudio Muñoz and Kelly Myernick, Miles performed roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Christopher Bruce, Disha Zhang, Ben Stevenson OBE, Alice Topp, Jack Wolff, and Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch, Member of the Order of Australia. In 2021, Miles joined the Houston Ballet. His professional repertoire includes ballets by Stanton Welch AM, George Balanchine, Melody Mennite, Arthur Pita, Cathy Martson, Ben Stevenson OBE, and Trey Mcintyre. 

Lauren Quinn is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She first attended the Joffrey Summer Intensive in 2021 before beginning as a trainee that same year. After one year as a trainee, she was accepted as a Studio Company dancer for the 22-23 school year. Quinn has attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, and she received various scholarships to all. Since being at Joffrey, Quinn has performed in productions with The Joffrey Ballet Company, including Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker, Yuri Possokhov’s Don Quixote, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid. She has also performed many lead roles in Academy productions, such as George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, the “Friday’s Child” pas de deux from Frederick Ashton’s Jazz Calendar, and Kitri in Possokhov’s Don Quixote.

Ao Wang, originally from Beijing, China, began her dance training in 2008, at the Liaoning Ballet Academy of China. In 2014, she received a full scholarship to study intensively under the instruction of Kee Juan Han, Director of The Washington School of Ballet. Wang joined The Washington Ballet Studio Company in 2015, then went on to dance with the Miami City Ballet (2016 – 2020) and the Boston Ballet under the leadership of Mikko Nissinen (2020 – 2023.) Throughout her diverse and accomplished career, Wang has performed in numerous classical, neo-classical, and contemporary roles. Wang’s classical repertoire includes Coppélia (Swanilda), Don Quixote (Cupid), Swan Lake (Pas De Trois and Neapolitan), Nutcracker (Sugar Plum, Snow Queen, Clara), La Bayadère (Gamzatti), Le Corsaire (pas de deux), Grand Pas Classique, Sleeping Beauty (Aurora, Fairies). Wang has also danced works of choreographers such as William Forsythe, Jorma Elo, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Alexi Ratmansky, Justin Peck, Edward Liang, and Septime Webre. 

About The Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the world today, with a reputation for boundary-breaking performances for more than 60 years. The Joffrey repertoire is an extensive collection of all-time classics, modern masterpieces, and original works. 

Founded in 1956 by pioneers Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, the Joffrey remains dedicated to artistic expression, innovation, and first-rate education and engagement programming. The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE and President and CEO Greg Cameron.

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2023–2024 Season Sponsors: Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, The Florian Fund, Anne L. Kaplan, and Margot and Josef Lakonishok. Music Sponsors: Sandy and Roger Deromedi, Sage Foundation, The Marina and Arnold Tatar Fund for Live Music. The Joffrey also acknowledges our Season Partners: ATHLETICO and Chicago Athletic Clubs.

For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, visit Connect with the Joffrey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Photo by Carolyn McCabe.

Headshots by Cheryl Mann.