Ruth Page Celebrates a Prima Ballerina







As a hub of Chicago’s dance history since 1971—and an incubator of artistic energy—the Ruth Page Center of the Arts thrives in the newly refurbished studios created by its namesake, one of America’s legendary dancers, teachers, and mentors. The recent Ruth Page Legacy Gala, hosting 275 attendees at the Union League Club, was its most successful fundraiser ever. As you would imagine, the dancing after dinner was fabulous.


Dance Director Victor Alexander; Distinguished Service Award Honoree Patricia Klekovic; and Executive Director Venetia Stifler.

Honored by a Distinguished Service Award was one of Chicago’s most beloved dancers and teachers known to most as “Miss Patti.” Young ballerinas have pliéd and pirouetted under the tutelage of former prima ballerina Patricia Klekovic for five decades, her gentle grace, dancer’s discipline, and firm direction having launched careers and lifelong dance appreciators in the 1926 temple to dance on Dearborn Street.

She danced across the world with the Ruth Page International Ballet and worked closely with its creator and choreographer who died at almost 100 in 1991.

Catherine Conley, a former student of Miss Patti and soon a dancer with the internationally celebrated Cuban National Ballet Company, performed and welcomed her former teacher to the stage.


Catherine Conley performing.


Catherine Conley, Ruth Page School of Dance alum and current dancer with Cuba’s National Ballet, and Miss Patti.

Ruth Page board member Kristin Beal chaired the Gala and Emmy Award-winning WGN News anchor Micah Materre hosted the event for the fourth consecutive year. The evening’s Releve sponsors were Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and Wintrust Wealth Management.


Vera Jean Materre, Gloria Materre, and Micah Materre with husband Kevin Jackson.

Thea Flaum, Chairman and President of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, welcomed guests following performances by the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs, its outreach partner, and Concert Dance Inc, one of the Centers Artists in Residence.

Artistic and Executive Director Venetia Stifler praised Miss Patti’s influence “on dance in Chicago and in the world” and told the audience about the Center’s partnership with the Ravinia Festival to bring dance to the park as well as other Chicago venues. The Ruth Page Center offers an international dance experience summer program and continues a cultural exchange program with Cuba’s National School of Ballet and other international sister schools in Italy and Spain.

As a final act to the evening, the school’s director, Victor Alexander, and Micah Materre led the audience to the dance floor inviting them to “show off their skills.” No matter their background in dance, or lack thereof, everybody had a blast demonstrating their moves.


Choreographer Ronna Kay and Elaine Cohen.


Tanya Williams and Andrew Hendrix.


Dorne Eastwood and Salme Harju Steinberg, President Emerita of Northeastern Illinois University and Ruth Page Center for the Arts board member.


For more information about the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, please visit

Photo credit: Anthony LaPenna