Erica Lynette Edwards
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Erica Lynette Edwards joined The Joffrey Ballet after being one of the first dancers in the Arpino Apprentice program in 2000. She trained at the Salt Creek Ballet School where she performed major roles in their pre-professional ballet company. Ms. Edwards attended summer intensives at the School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Bryant Ballet on merit scholarships. She also trained two years and received her Associate of Arts at Butler University in Indianapolis on talent, academic, and leadership scholarships.
Since joining The Joffrey, Erica’s vast repertoire includes Apollo, Appalachian Spring, Cinderella (Fairy Godmother), Dark Elegies (4th Song), Deuce Coupe (Lead), The Green Table (Partisan Woman), Light Rain (Pas de Deux), The Nutcracker, N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz! (Static Girl), Les Patineurs (Red Girls), Square Dance, Le Sacre du Printemps (Chosen One), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (Aria 1), Suite Saint Saens, and Viva Vivaldi (Soloist).
She believes that it is important to share the experience of dance with others. Erica does this by teaching at various community, school, and outreach programs throughout Chicagoland. In 2001 the Chicago Sun-Times spotlighted Erica as a “Black History Maker,” and in 2002 she was The Joffrey’s nominee for the Princess Grace Foundation Award. Ebony magazine featured Ms. Edwards as a Young Leader of the Future in the Arts in February 2003. She is featured with The Joffrey Ballet in Robert Altman’s movie, The Company, and has been seen giving a tour of the Joffrey facilities on TV’s Chicago Tonight. Her pictures serve as the face for many marketing campaigns and she is even presented in the children’s book Beautiful Ballerinas as a famous ballerina.
She retired on December 28, 2014 after a 15-year career as a ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet and is now the company’s Director of Community Engagement. In this role she is responsible for managing all Joffrey arts education programs through Chicago Public Schools and the community to increase access, awareness, and appreciation for the art of dance. This year, Ms. Edwards serves as the co-chair for Dance for Life Chicago and was chosen to serve on the Partnership and Professional Learning Panel of Ingenuity’s Collective Impact Panel where she will help shape the policy, practice, and landscape of arts education in Chicago Public Schools. Most recently Crain’s Chicago Business selected Erica as a member of 40 Under 40.
Former Joffrey dancer moves offstage to bring ballet to young audiences, Chicago Tribune
Joffrey Names Dancer Erica Lynette Edwards New Director of Community Engagement
The Dancers Breaking The Color Barrier In Professional Ballet, Chicagoist
Erica Lynette Edwards on Linked In