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These Dancers Are Climbing the Ranks at 7 Major Companies

Peter Mueller, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Summer means promotions announcements, and dancers transitioning from one company to another. And while we've already shared some updates with you (see San Francisco Ballet here and here, American Ballet Theatre here), more news is being released each day. Below, we've rounded up recent updates from seven companies. Read on to find out whose names you'll be seeing in playbills across the country (and Canada!) in the year to come.


Boston Ballet

Tigran Mkrtchyan in William Forsythe's In the middle, somewhat elevated

Gregory Batardon, Courtesy Boston Ballet

In April, Boston Ballet announced that seven dancers were being promoted. Yesterday they added to that news, sharing that 16 new dancers will be joining the company.

Armenian dancer Tigran Mkrtchyan will be joining as a soloist. He's been a member of Ballet Zürich since 2011. Chisaka Oga, formerly a principal at Cincinnati Ballet who was named one of Dance Magazine's 2019 25 to Watch, will be coming on as a second soloist.

Boston Ballet is also welcoming 14 new artists of the company. Joy Womack was most recently a principal at Universal Ballet in Seoul, South Korea. Womack has also danced for the Kremlin Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet; she's well known as the first American to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the first American woman to join the Bolshoi's ranks.

Paulina Waski joins after spending eight years in the corps de ballet of American Ballet Theatre. Madysen Felber moves north after three years with Sarasota Ballet, Sangmin Lee was hired from Korea National University of Arts and Mallory Mehaffey was formerly a corps dancer with The National Ballet of Canada. Boston Ballet also welcomes Lily Price, who spent the past year as an apprentice with New York City Ballet, Fuze Sun, formerly a soloist with Tianjin Ballet Troupe, and Jorge Villarini, who previously danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Martha Graham Dance Company and BalletMet.

Tyson Ali Clark, Georgia Dalton, Ryan Kwasniewski and My'Kal Stromile are joining the main company from Boston Ballet II, and Louise Hautefeuille is being promoted after a year as a trainee. Boston Ballet also announced the addition of Soo-bin Lee, who entered the corps in the middle of last season.

National Ballet of Canada

Newly promoted principal Brendan Saye in George Balanchine's Apollo.

Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada

National Ballet of Canada announced seven promotions in June. Brendan Saye is the company's newest principal; he first joined NBoC as an apprentice in 2008. Ben Rudisin and Donald Thom have been promoted to first soloist, and Jeannine Haller, Kota Sato, Calley Skalnik and Siphesihle November, winner of the 2019 Erik Bruhn Prize and one of our 2018 Stars of the Corps, are now second soloists.

Ballet West

Alexander MacFarlan in Onegin

Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

This year, Ballet West promoted two dancers within the company and added five new members. Alexander MacFarlan is Ballet West's newest first soloist, and Hadriel Diniz will become a soloist.

Former Ballet West II members Joseph Lynch, Jake Preece, Victoria Vassos and Jordan DePina join the main company as corps artists, as well as former American Ballet Theatre Studio Company dancer Grace Anne Pierce.

Milwaukee Ballet

Randy Crespo in Val Caniparoli's Lambarena

Mark Frohna, Courtesy Milwaukee Ballet

Milwaukee Ballet has promoted Randy Crespo to leading artist. Since joining the company in 2016, Crespo has shone as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake and James in La Sylphide.

The company also welcomes six new artists this September. Catherine Conley comes from Cuban National Ballet, where she was the only foreign-born dancer in the company. She'll be joined by Harold Cueto, who's danced with Cuban National Ballet since 2016. Daniela Katerina Maarraoui previously guested with Dresden Semperoper Ballet, and Marko Mikov comes to Milwaukee from San Antonio Ballet. Benjamin Simoens is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School, and Andy Sousa joins from Cleveland Ballet.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Elizabeth Lamont with Dmitri Dovogoselets in Romeo & Juliet

Vince Pahkala, Courtesy RWB

The 2019/20 season marks Royal Winnipeg Ballet's 80th. Leading up to this exciting year, the company has promoted four dancers and added eight to its ranks.

Elizabeth Lamont and Yue Shi rise to soloist, and Katie Bonnell and Stephan Azulay have been promoted to second soloist.

Tristan Dobrowney returns as a soloist after a year spent with Atlantic Ballet. Former Kansas City Ballet dancer Sarah Joan Smith and former Ballet Kelowna dancer Joshua Hidson join the corps de ballet. Recent RWB School graduate Michel Lavoie also joins the corps; he's the first RWB dancer in eight years to skip the apprentice rank and enter the corps de ballet straight out of school.

Former RWB School students Jenna Burns, Amanda Solheim and Bryce Taylor enter the company as apprentices along with Parker Long, formerly of Colorado Ballet.

Nashville Ballet

Imani Sailers, with Brett Sjoblom in Heather Britt's Claudette

Heather Thorne, Courtesy Nashville Ballet

Nashville Ballet promoted three dancers and welcomed in four new hires for the 2019/20 season. Jackson Bradshaw and 2018 Star of the Corps Imani Sailers have risen from apprentices to company members. After two years in NB2, Erin Williams has been promoted to apprentice.

As for external hires, Former Ballet Memphis dancer Lydia McRae and former Kansas City Ballet dancer Daniel Rodriguez enter Nashville Ballet as company members. Pacific Northwest Ballet School graduate Truman Lemire and former Texas Ballet Theater trainee Noah Miller have been hired as apprentices.

Oklahoma City Ballet

Oklahoma City Ballet welcomes a new guest principal dancer for the 2019/20 season: David Ward will join the company for Michael Pink's Dracula and Robert Mills' Romeo and Juliet. Ward has previously danced for Northern Ballet and BalletMet.

OKCB also adds five new corps dancers to its ranks: Joseph Hetzer joins from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, Nicholas Keeperman comes from Kansas City Ballet, and former apprentices Alejandro González, Natalie Matsuura and Kara Troester have been promoted. Former OKCB Studio Company dancers Lucas Tischler, Gabrielle Mengden, Ella Dorman and Molly Cook have been promoted to apprentice.

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Courtesy Nichols

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Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on blackface, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

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Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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