The Time of Your Life

Have "The Time Of Your Life" As The Joffrey Ballet and the Cast of Dirty Dancing-The Classic Story On Stagecelebrate launch of Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet

The Party benefits The Joffrey Ballet Scholarship Fund; Monday evening, January 5.

Chicagoans are certain to have "the time of their lives" with the cast of the pre-Broadway production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on , when they co-host a sizzling hot party with The Joffrey Ballet at the Joffrey Tower, 10 East Randolph Street, on Monday, January 5, 2009 to celebrate the opening of Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet. Proceeds from the party will benefit Scholarship Fund at Academy of Dance.

The action-packed evening will feature two live music and dance sets by members of the Dirty Dancing cast, plus a silent auction and deluxe cocktail reception. Led by Dirty Dancing cast member and former Joffrey Ballet dancer Britta Lazenga (Penny Johnson), together with her Dirty Dancing co-star Gary Lynch (Moe Pressman), the cast of Dirty Dancing, including Josef Brown (Johnny Castle) and Amanda Leigh Cobb (Frances "Baby" Houseman), will be on hand - and on stage - for the event! In addition to mixing and mingling with members of both The Joffrey Ballet and the cast of Dirty Dancing guests will have the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind gift packages featuring autographed Dirty Dancing and Joffrey Ballet memorabilia, prime tickets for the ballet and theater, and private Academy of Dance lessons.

"In its continued commitment to provide dancers with the highest quality of dance training the new Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet will teach not only ballet but many other forms of dance to Chicagoans of all ages and skill levels. What better way to showcase the range of movement than with the talented dancers and singers from Dirty Dancing - especially since this hit production boasts two fabulous former Joffrey dancers – Britta Lazenga and Samuel Pergande!" said Joffrey Ballet Executive Director Christopher Clinton Conway.

Sponsors for the evening include Jewell Events Catering, Lee G. Hall Foundation, MAC Cosmetics, United Airlines, Today's Chicago Woman, and Exelon Corp.

Tickets for this benefit celebration are $40 in advance ($50 at the door) and are available by emailing or calling 312-386-8996.

For more information about The Joffrey Ballet, Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, or the company's current productions, please call 312-739-0120 or visit For more information on Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, go to

Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet - housed in the Exelon Education Center at Joffrey Tower - will address various recognized needs in Chicago's dance education programs, including the establishment of a professional dance school associated with a world renowned company. It will also proudly continue the professional dance training offered to current Joffrey Ballet Education & Community Engagement students by providing scholarship assistance to those without the financial means to pursue their dance interests. Academy of Dance programs include Community Open Classes with instruction in Creative Movement, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop and Latin (ages 3-12); and Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, "Keep Fit" Ballet Workout, "Keep Fit" Jazz Workout, African, Latin, and Tap (ages 12 and up). The Pre-Professional Program (ages 7-18) will commit dancers to all of the classes assigned to their level (Levels 1-5) with each level increasing in technical ability and number of classes per week. Classes offered include Ballet Technique, Latin, Jazz, Contemporary, Horton, and Core Strengthening. In Fall 2009, the Academy of Dance will open its Trainee Program dedicated to training serious 17-20 year old students to prepare for professional dance careers. This rigorous training program will consist of daily classes in Ballet Technique, Pointe, Pas de Deux, Character, Male Virtuosity, repertoire, as well as other disciplines. There will be additional lecture classes focusing on audition tips, teaching techniques, business and finance.

Housed in the Joffrey Tower - the new home of The Joffrey Ballet - Academy of Dance will enjoy one of the most advanced facilities for dance in the world. With approximately 15,000 square feet of space the Academy of Dance will operate out of the new Exelon Education Center, which is the current home of Joffrey's education and outreach programs. This expanded studio and rehearsal space will provide students a place for comprehensive hands-on training, learning and creative expression, as well as more access to The Joffrey's artistic staff and dancers, and exposure to a professional dance environment.

The Joffrey Ballet has been hailed as "America's Ballet Company of Firsts." 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, and guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater who was recruited as a dancer in 1985 by Joffrey and Arpino before returning to lead the company in 2007 after a heralded tenure at San Francisco Ballet. The Joffrey Ballet has become one of the world's most revered and recognizable arts organizations in America and one of the top ballet companies in the world.

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage is a coming of age love story involving the talented and headstrong dancer Johnny Castle (Josef Brown) and Frances "Baby" Houseman (Amanda Leigh Cobb). During her family's summer vacation at the popular Kellerman's resort, Baby, a doctor's daughter with dreams of joining the Peace Corps, meets Johnny, the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Against all odds, they fall in love, learning life-changing lessons along the way. Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, follows the highs and lows of their summer romance. Re-imagined for the stage with a cast of 39, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, combines all the intensity and excitement of live theater with new songs, new scenes, and thrilling new dances. The production is an unprecedented live experience for lifelong fans of the film and new audiences alike that explodes with heart-pounding music, breathtaking emotion and sensationally sexy dancing. Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage, continues its Chicago engagement through January 17, 2009. Tickets for all remaining performances are available at Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (18 W Monroe, 24 W Randolph St and 151 W Randolph St), through the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (312) 902-1400, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers (including all Hot Tix, select Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts and fye stores) or online at Groups of 20 or more should call (312) 977-1710. "Johnny's Mambo" from Dirty Dancing--The Classic Story on Stage

It was a homecoming for two Chicago when that Dirty Dancing—the Classic Story on Stage ( settled in at the Cadillac Palace Theatre for the fall and winter. Britta Lazenga – a former member of the Joffrey Ballet – is back home playing the pivotal role of Penny Johnson. She debuted in the role in the North American Premiere of the musical in Toronto. As a member of the Joffrey for seven seasons, Britta danced leading roles as the Snow Queen, White Widow and Hermia. Now she's part of the touring company of the live show based on the legendary movie Dirty Dancing. She takes the stage with Josef Brown ( who plays Johnny Castle. Brown previously played Johnny in London and Australian productions of Dirty Dancing. Their hot duet "Johnny's Mambo" is a show stopper.

Samuel Pergande, another Joffrey alumnus, appears in the Dirty Dancing ensemble and is the understudy for the roles of Johnny and Robbie. Samuel trained with Milwaukee Ballet, Bolshoi and San Francisco Ballet. He later worked at American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera where his repertoire includes principal roles in the classics and contemporary works. He was also a cast member of "The Company" directed by Robert Altman

Chicago theater-goers are experiencing the live musical before the show goes to Broadway. Re-imagined for the stage by the original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage combines all the intensity and excitement of live theater with new songs, new scenes, and thrilling new dances. Dirty Dancing is the story of Baby and Johnny – two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. The movie soundtrack still sells millions of copies and the musical features 35 hit songs, including "Hungry Eyes," "Hey Baby," "Do You Love Me?" and the Academy Award-winning "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."

Britta and Sam appear in Dirty Dancing with a very strong cast that includes several other Chicago actors and dancers. Amanda Leigh Cobb plays Frances 'Baby' Houseman. Ben Mingay reprises his role as Billy; he has played the role in Australia, London and Toronto. They are joined by John Bolger as Dr. Jake Houseman, Baby's father; Kaitlin Hopkins as Baby's mother Marjorie, and Chicagoan Katlyn Carlson as sister Lisa.

Rounding out the cast of 39 are Molly C. Callinan as Vivian, Joseph Costa as Mr. Schumacher, Jonathan Epstein as Max Kellerman, namesake of the resort at which the iconic story is set, Ryan Farrell as Robbie, Michael Howell as Tito Suarez, Lauren Klein as Mrs. Schumacher, Michael Lluberes as Stan, Gary Lynch as Moe Pressman, and Michael Zahler as Neil Kellerman. The ensemble includes John Antony, Timothy Bish, Thea Brooks, Karen Burthwright, Theresa Coombe, E. Clayton Cornelious, Jean Michel Erole, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Hayley Henderson-Smith, Darina Jeleva, Travis Kelley, Charlie Logan, Lauralyn McClelland, Erich McMillan-McCall, Samuel Pergande, Andrew Pirozzi, Sarah Skogland, W. Easton Smith, Billy Harrigan Tighe, Aspen Vincent, Tony Vincent, Emily J. Williams, and Candice Woods.

The acclaimed creative team responsible for the record-breaking London and Toronto productions of Dirty Dancing brought the show to the United States. Directed by James Powell, with choreography by Kate Champion, the team also includes: Stephen Brimson Lewis (set design), Conrad Helfrich (music supervisor), Tim Mitchell (lighting design), Bobby Aitken (sound design), Jon Driscoll (video and projection design), Jennifer Irwin (costume design) and Craig Wilson (Latin and Ballroom dance choreographer).

Dirty Dancing is playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St through January 17, 2009 sale. Tickets are available at Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (18 W. Monroe, 24 W. Randolph St. and 151 W. Randolph St.), through the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (312) 902-1400, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers (including all Hot Tix, select Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts and fye stores) or online at

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Britta Lazenga received her early dance training in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. She attended the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, where she graduated in 2000. Ms. Lazenga was chosen as one of the first Arpino Apprentices in 2000 and joined the Joffrey Ballet as a full company member in 2001.

While with the Joffrey Ballet, Ms. Lazenga performed principal roles in The Nutcracker (Snow Queen), White Widow (White Widow), and Untitled. Her soloist roles include A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hermia), Light Rain, A Wedding Bouquet (Josephine), Apollo (Leto), Romeo And Juliet (Rosalind) and Waltz of the Flowers in The Nutcracker (Pansy).

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