Eric B. Eatherly Memorial Scholarship honoring beloved member of Chicago dance community launched at the Joffrey Academy of Dance


A true Southern gentleman, Eric B. Eatherly contributed to Chicago’s dance community extensively, passionately and always with great generosity after making the city his home upon graduating from Northwestern University in 2001.  He soon graced many stages here, dancing professionally with Hedwig Dances and Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre, and also appearing as a guest artist with many of Chicago’s other leading modern dance companies, including Mordine & Company Dance Theatre and Thodos Dance Chicago.  Behind the scenes, he wrote about dance for Windy City Times and then transitioned to dance promotion, joining The Silverman Group, Inc. publicity firm in 2008. This popular publicist (and ultimately Vice President at The Silverman Group) represented The Joffrey Ballet, among other high profile clientele, until his untimely death in a car accident in his native Tennessee on December 29, 2014, at the age of 35.

To honor his memory and continue his legacy here, Eric’s partner Jay Leibovitz, joined by Eric’s mother Nancy Follis, have initiated a new scholarship for pre-professional male dancers at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet.  Donations to the Eric B. Eatherly Memorial Scholarship Fund will support the tuition for a male student on a professional track at the Academy of Dance, to be selected by Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, with a new recipient to be named annually.

“Eric lived each day of his short life generally happy because he followed his passions.  Primary among his passions was dance; and, whether through dancing, writing about dance or promoting dance, Eric sought to spread the happiness he derived through dance with others.  If Eric can’t be here to continue to so spread his happiness, it is important to me that his memory live on to inspire like-passionate individuals to follow in his footsteps — to live as happily as he did, to spread their happiness with others and to dance,” said Leibovitz.

Contributions are fully tax deductible as The Joffrey Ballet is a 501-C3 organization. For more information or to contribute to the Eric B. Eatherly Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, please visit and include “Eric B. Eatherly Memorial Scholarship Fund” in the ‘Notes’ field; call 312-386-8974; or mail check to The Joffrey Ballet, 10 E. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601 Attn: Development Department. Check should be made out to The Joffrey Ballet and note Eric B. Eatherly Memorial Scholarship Fund on the Memo line.

Established in 2009, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, is committed to providing students of all ages, levels and backgrounds who have a desire to dance with a world-class education built on a foundation of classical ballet. With the talents cultivated at the Joffrey Academy, students can pursue careers as professional dancers at companies throughout the world, higher education opportunities in dance, or success in other fields. Through the Joffrey Academy’s programs, students develop a diverse set of skills including artistry, creativity, discipline and confidence, among others.

Named Outstanding School in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016 by the Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest international student ballet competition, the Joffrey Academy’s high-quality, educational programming forms future audiences and support for the Joffrey and builds the organization’s reputation worldwide. For more information on the Joffrey Academy of Dance, please