The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, has announced the winners of the Third Annual Choreographers of Color Award: Ma Cong, William McClellan and Jeremy McQueen. This announcement follows a national call for artists to submit applications, which began in August. Rounding out the artistic talent on this year's program is fashion designer LaQuan Smith who will conceptualize and design the costumes for McQueen's piece. The Choreographers of Color Award was created to recognize promising young minority choreographers whose diverse perspective will ignite creativity in the field of dance. Each of the three selected choreographers will be given a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours to set a new work on the Joffrey Academy Trainees. Each winning choreographer will also receive a $2,500 stipend and an opportunity to work directly with Joffrey Academy Artistic Directors, Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik. The three World Premieres will be presented in Choreographers of Color Award 2013: Winning Works at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, in one performance only, Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 4 pm.
"I am thrilled that we are able to present our Choreographers of Color initiative again this year," said
Ashley C. Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet. "It is important that we actively seek and nurture these very talented choreographers. Dance in America is as rich and diverse as its people, and we are confident that Choreographers of Color will showcase some of our most creative spirits. New work provides an opportunity for choreographers and dancers to explore and grow. We are deeply grateful to the MacArthur Foundation and Harris Theater for supporting these performances."
"It's an important part of the Joffrey's role as a leading ballet company to bring the work of diverse choreographers to Chicago and to empower the creative vitality of rising artists," said Christopher Clinton Conway, The Joffrey Ballet's Executive Director. "I am pleased that the Joffrey can provide these talented artists the resources to present their work and make an important contribution to dance."
Ma Cong started his career at the Beijing Dance Academy training as a Chinese Classical dancer before he joined the National Ballet of China in 1995, then Tulsa Ballet in 1999. He worked with international directors and choreographers and performed leading roles in works by Balanchine, Cranko, Robbins, Tharp, Duato, Kudelka, Kylian, Forsythe, MacMillan, Hans Van Manen and many others. Ma has also appeared as a Principal Guest Artist on international stages across the world.
As a choreographer, Ma has created original works for Tulsa Ballet, Houston Ballet, BalletMet, Ballet Florida, Smuin Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Ballet Des Moines, among others. In 2006, Ma was named one of the "25 to Watch" by Dance Magazine for his dancing and choreography as well as The Choo-San Goh award in 2007. In 2008, Ma was the winner of the 21st Century Choreographic competition and also received the "Audience Favorite" and received the "Editor's Choice Award" from Pointe Magazine. Most recently, Richmond Ballet performed Ma's Ershter Vals at the Linbury Studios at the Royal Opera House to sold out audiences.
William McClellan is currently an MFA candidate in the Department of Dance at University of Michigan. Before coming to Ann Arbor, he was principal dancer and resident choreographer for ten years for the first and second Dayton Contemporary Dance Companies (DCDC/DCDC2) in Dayton, Ohio. He worked with renowned artists such as Bill T. Jones, Bebe Miller, Eleo Pomare, Warren Spears, Ron Brown, Diane McIntyre, and Rennie Harris. He represented DCDC at dance festivals, performing Talley Beatty's signature solo Mourner's Bench, and received numerous awards, including the JOSIE for Best Dancer in Performance and a Princess Grace Awards nomination. He has created ballets for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and the Cincinnati Ballet and has received recognition for his choreography from the Ohio Senate. He was also an original member of CounterGroove Dance Company in Detroit, MI. McClellan hails from the South Side of Chicago, Illinois and is a Whitney Young High School graduate.