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CHICAGO Julia Jankowski, events coordinator for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, spent two months planning Monday night’s event titled “Have the Time of Your Life: An Evening of Song and Dance With the Cast of Dirty Dancing.” The event drew some 165 guests—including Chicago's first lady, Maggie Daley—and served as a relaxed grand-opening celebration for the Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet.
The event’s centerpiece was a two-act performance that featured dancers from the ballet company and the Broadway in Chicago show, a collaboration which came about thanks to a longtime friendship between Kaitlin Hopkins (who plays Baby Houseman’s mother, Marjorie, in the touring company of Dirty Dancing) and Christopher Conway, executive director of the Joffrey Ballet. Further solidifying the link between the two organizations, several Dirty Dancing cast members are also former Joffrey dancers, including Britta Lazenga, who cohosted the evening’s performance.
Further support for the evening came from sponsor Jewell Events Catering, which donated wine, cheese, and crudités for an hour-long cocktail reception that kicked off the event.