CHICAGO (June 15, 2015) – The Joffrey Ballet, led by Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron, proudly announced today that it has not only met, but exceeded, a $500,000 challenge grant made by the prestigious Rudolf Nureyev® Dance Foundation in Fall 2013. The Joffrey Ballet was responsible for raising an additional $1 million towards the newly-established Rudolf Nureyev Fund at The Joffrey Ballet in order to receive the grant. The Rudolf Nureyev Fund at The Joffrey Ballet is the Company’s first-ever endowment, and is dedicated towards the creation, production, and performance of full-length story ballets, such as the North American Premiere of John Neumeier’s Sylvia this Fall, and the World Premiere commission of a new production of The Nutcracker by Tony Award™-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon in 2016.


“This challenge grant represents one of the largest grants awarded to a single cultural institution in the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation’s history. The Joffrey Ballet has become one of the formidable companies in America and on behalf of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, we are extremely pleased to make this grant and assist the Company with its continued commitment to telling stories through the art of ballet,” said Barry L. Weinstein, Board President of the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation.


Founded in 1992 and based in Chicago, the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation has contributed over $6,000,000 in grants to benefit dance in the United States in memory of Rudolf Nureyev. The Joffrey Ballet has, in the past, received funding from the Foundation for a revival of Nijinsky’s L’Apres Midi D’Un Faune in honor of Rudolf Nureyev (1997), for An Evening of Nureyev (2004), and for programming surrounding the company’s two-year 50th Anniversary celebration (2005-2006).


“We are so appreciative of the individuals and foundations that recognized the importance of investing in this effort,” said Zachary Lazar, Joffrey Ballet Board Chairman. “Gifts like these are essential to the Joffrey’s continued presence in Chicago.”







“Story ballets serve as a great entry point for new audiences to discover dance and for dancers to discover their art, and story ballets have always been an integral part of the Company’s repertoire. With this endowment, The Joffrey can continue to produce and present full length works of the highest caliber, from the world’s most exciting choreographic talent,” added Ashley Wheater.


The Joffrey Ballet will present its next full-length story ballet, the North American Premiere of Sylvia by internationally-acclaimed, Milwaukee-born choreographer John Neumeier, October 14-25, 2015. Set to music by Léo Delibes, among the themes of this magnificent female-powered ballet are deception, unrequited love and obsession. Neumeier returns to the U.S. for this homecoming, having honed his vision to international acclaim in Europe, leading the Hamburg Ballet as director and chief choreographer since 1973. Sylvia is presented in 10 performances only at the Joffrey’s home venue, the historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, in downtown Chicago at 50 East Congress Parkway.


About Rudolf Nureyev

Rudolf Nureyev, born in 1938 in Irkutsk, Russia, became a soloist with the Kirov Ballet after graduating from the Leningrad Ballet School. Among his many contributions, he emphasized the role of the male dancer in ballet and brought it to prominence.  In 1961, Nureyev defected from the Soviet Union to the West when the Kirov toured Paris, despite KGB efforts to stop him. At that point in history, the Nureyev name stood for freedom and he became a Cold War icon. The same year, he also made his London debut with ballerina Margot Fonteyn at the Royal Academy of Dancing. Their chemistry as a dance team would captivate audiences for years to follow.  Nureyev’s gala performance was also the start of his long-lasting relationship with the Royal Ballet, his home base up until the mid-1970s, when he began his esteemed solo career, leading to his stardom in every country in the western world. Concurrently, Nureyev began to choreograph revised versions of the story ballets, Don Quixote, Raymonda and Swan Lake.  He would go on to choreograph revisions of three more ballets during his career.  He died in 1993 in Paris.


About the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation

In tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, whose love of the new in dance sprang from a profound faith in ballet’s traditional past, the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation seeks to preserve and protect the history and tradition of dance while simultaneously encouraging its progress and development. Specifically, the Chicago-based Foundation aims to perpetuate Rudolf Nureyev’s name, and to advance his vision and contribution to dance through its study, performance and appreciation. Financially, through grants to benefit dance, the Foundation aims to carry on the legacy that Rudolf Nureyev has left behind – his extraordinary dedication to the art of dance.


About The Joffrey Ballet

2015-16 marks the 60th Anniversary season of The Joffrey Ballet. Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works. Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.


For more information on The Joffrey Ballet, please visit


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