Joffrey Academy’s 2020 Winning Works Choreographic Competition Winners Announced

Joffrey Academy's 2020 Winning Works Choreographic Competition

Joffrey Academy’s 2020 Winning Works Choreographic Competition

(Chicago) – The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, announces the recipients of the tenth annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition: Chanel DaSilva, Tsai Hsi Hung, Pablo Sánchez (recipient of the inaugural Zach Lazar Winning Works Fellowship, named in honor of former Joffrey Board Chair Zach Lazar) and Durante Verzola. This announcement follows a national call for ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American) artists to submit applications, which began in May.

The choreographers’ world premiere works will be showcased on the members of the Joffrey Studio Company and the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program. Winning Works expands to four performances in 2020 and returns to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater (220 E. Chicago Avenue) Friday, March 20 at 7:30 PM, Saturday, March 21 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Sunday, March 22 at 2:00 PM. Tickets for Winning Works are $30 and go on sale November 1 for purchase at

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. The winning choreographers are awarded a $5,000 stipend and are given the opportunity to seek guidance from The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet Ashley Wheater and Academy Director Raymond Rodriguez.

Pablo Sanchez by Kat Stiennon

Pablo Sanchez (Photo by Kat Stiennon)

“Ten years ago, we began Winning Works with high hopes and expectations,” said Wheater. “Based on the talent of our numerous winners and the depth of their art, we have succeeded in such incredible ways. This year’s winners bring the same level of extraordinary artistry to the stage once again. I am so excited to welcome them as our newest Winning Works alumni and to see their original works presented to Chicago audiences this spring. The Joffrey is committed to giving choreographers of all backgrounds a voice.”

“As we have seen, the demand for Winning Works grows each year and we have added a fourth performance to accommodate that demand,” added Rodriguez. “Winning Works is becoming more relevant, more meaningful, more impactful. I have worked closely with all our winners over the last three years; I have read applications, worked in the studio, and seen so many choreographers take inventive risks. It gives me so much joy to see such a diverse range of talent being recognized. We will continue to find ways to support artists and expand our reach as much as possible, now in our tenth year and well beyond.”

More Than $180,000 Raised for Winning Works in 2020

To date, the Joffrey has raised more than $180,000 to support ALAANA choreographers and the presentation of their work for the 2020 Winning Works competition. That number continues to grow, emphasizing the Joffrey’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of dance. The Joffrey is proud of the fact that Winning Works provides complete financial assistance – housing, travel, and work stipend – to all winners. Additionally, the Joffrey does not require an application fee for those interested in applying for the Winning Works competition.

Tsai Hsi Hung by Kelly Wang

Tsai Hsi Hung (Photo by Kelly Wang)

Former winners of the Winning Works competition include Stephanie Martinez (2015), a featured choreographer on the Joffrey’s upcoming spring program The Times Are Racing; Jeffrey Cirio (2016), current Lead Principal Dancer with the English National Ballet; and Claudia Schreier (2018), Ballet Master to Juilliard President Damian Woetzel.

A complete list of winners can be found at

About the 2020 Winning Works Winners

Chanel DaSilva is a multifaceted artist whose work reflects her deep connection to the transformative power of the arts. A native of Brooklyn, NY, DaSilva is a graduate of LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts and The Juilliard School. DaSilva was a member of the highly celebrated Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) based in Boise, Idaho. In 2011 DaSilva graced the cover of Dance Magazine and as a part of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Dance Motion USA, DaSilva toured throughout Asia with TMP as a cultural ambassador to the United States of America.

DaSilva is the recipient of the 2019 Martha Hill Dance Fund Mid-Career Award, a 2011 Princess Grace Award, and the 2008 Martha Hill Prize awarded by The Juilliard School. She is a National YoungArts Winner, was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and was featured on the 2004 PBS Documentary American Talent. As a choreographer, DaSilva has created works for Gibney Dance Company (GDC), American Repertory Theater, Harvard Dance Project, Ariel Rivka Dance, The Juilliard School, and LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. In 2019 DaSilva received an IRNE nomination for Best Choreography for The Black Clown, which premiered at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA.

Chanel DaSilva_Photo by Jaqlin Medlock

Chanel DaSilva (Photo by Jaqlin Medlock)

In 2015, alongside her long-time friend and business partner, Nigel Campbell, Chanel co-founded MOVE(NYC), a multi-pillared arts and social justice organization with the mission of creating greater equity and diversity in the dance profession and beyond. The cornerstone of the organization is the Young Professionals Program, which offers dance training and mentorship to talented and motivated young dancers in New York City, tuition free.

Tsai Hsi Hung (Taipei, Taiwan) graduated from Taipei National University of the Arts 2010. In 2009 she travelled to Australia as an exchange student for the Dance at Queensland Technology University Dance Department. She has worked with the Australian Dance Theater, Tasdance, Expressions Dance Company, and Chunky Move Dance Company Dancers.

In 2012, Hung wrote the choreography for the Beijing TV show Passion for Dance. Meimage Dance commissioned her to choreograph a solo piece entitled Bluebeard, which Hung performed throughout Taiwan in the summer of 2016. Her choreography was also featured at Baruch Performing Arts Center’s REVERBdance series in 2017.

In June of 2018, the MET Dance company performed Hung’s work IO for 12 dancers at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston, Texas. In 2019, Hung’s piece DOUBLEND was performed at the NU VU Festival at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Centre, Martha Graham Studio Theater and NYU Skirball Center. Hung teaches the Peridance Plunge Program at the Capezio Dance Center and is the director of the Queens Ballet Center in New York.

Durante Verzola by Joel Thomas

Durante Verzola (Photo by Joel Thomas)

Durante Verzola has choreographed works for Pennsylvania Ballet II, Ballet Dallas, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Miami City Ballet School, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Goucher College, School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Peabody Dance, and Ballet Conservatory of
South Texas.

His work has been described as “sharp and witty… so vibrant it is almost like a celebration of classicism and vitality with non-derivative balletic language… he continues to present classical ballet vocabulary in unfussy, thrilling ways,” by Philadelphia Dance. The Philadelphia Dance Journal praised him as “a choreographer on the rise, with a gift for designing space and succeeds at directing moving bodies [with] a sophisticated blend of theatrical flair and carefully crafted movements,” and Explore Dance wrote, “For a 20-something choreographer, Verzola startled with his inventiveness via straightforward balletics.”

Verzola is from Lansing, Kansas. He began his training with Marisa Paull and continued at the Kansas City Ballet School and Kansas School of Classical Ballet. At 16, he left home to train with the Miami City Ballet School, and attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and CPYB. He danced with Pennsylvania Ballet II and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Christopher Wheeldon, Larry Keigwin, and Marius Petipa.

Pablo Sánchez (Zach Lazar Winning Works Fellow) is currently a Company Dancer with Ballet Memphis in Tennessee, dancing under the direction of Steven McMahon. His first choreographic showing was as a member of IU Ballet Theater’s 2009 Choreographic Project, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, Indiana. Upon becoming a member of Atlanta Ballet in 2011, Sánchez was engaged by Dean Sharon Story to create dances for Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education’s annual spring and summer student showcases.

Sánchez has designed a collection of dances for Stacy Joy Keller at Dancenter North, Gurnee, IL, and for Erica Lynette Edwards, Director of Community Engagement programs at The Joffrey Ballet, since 2015. For Ballet Memphis, he has choreographed for Interiorworks 18 and 19, a dancer led initiative benefitting their Artists’ Resource Fund. In the spring of 2019, Founding Artistic Director Dorothy Gunther Pugh commissioned Sánchez to create a work for Through the Veil: Giselle Redux, titled Jolie Lore, which depicts a fresh look at the classic. Sánchez participated in the Trainee Program at the Joffrey Academy during the 2010-2011 term and appeared at the Harris Theater in the inaugural presentation of Winning Works.

About the Joffrey Studio Company

The Joffrey Studio Company is a scholarship program of the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet. The Joffrey Studio Company consists of outstanding students selected by The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ashley Wheater and Academy Director Raymond Rodriguez. The Joffrey Studio Company and Trainees have performed on some of the most prestigious stages, including Lincoln Center in NY, the Auditorium Theatre, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Cadillac Palace Theatre and MCA Stage in Chicago, Music Hall in LA, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and more.

The individualized training and performance opportunities provided by the Joffrey Studio Company offers students unique insight into the life of a professional dancer, assisting students in preparation for a professional career in dance and helping them expand their technique and artistry.

About the Joffrey Academy Trainees

The Joffrey Academy Trainee Program is a one to two-year program for students ages 17 and older who are preparing for a professional dance career. Students are selected to participate in the Trainee Program by invitation from The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Academy Director Raymond Rodriguez. This esteemed and rigorous program gives students a unique and well-rounded experience to prepare them for the next step in their careers. Trainees rehearse and perform classical and contemporary works from The Joffrey Ballet’s extensive repertoire and have the opportunity to work with guest choreographers throughout the year.

Graduates of the Academy have gone on to dance professionally with companies throughout the world including The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Dresden Semperoper, Complexions, Milwaukee Ballet, Memphis Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, BalletMet, Polish National Ballet, Slovak National Ballet, and many more.

The Joffrey Ballet gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Winning Works Sponsors Pritzker Foundation, Wilson Garling Foundation, Epstein Family Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation, and William Blair with Joffrey Board Member Rita Spitz. William Blair is the premier global boutique with expertise in investment banking, investment management, and private wealth management.

For more information on the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet and its programs please visit

Press Release Via: The Joffrey Academy of Dance

Related Coverage:
Joffrey Academy’s Winning Works Choreographic Competition Puts Out Call For ALAANA Artists
Raymond Rodriguez Named Director of Joffrey Academy of Dance


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