Who was a role model for you growing up?
Mikko Nissinen. When I was around 14, he retired from San Francisco Ballet and took over my school, Marin Ballet. He was my first male ballet teacher and role model in the dance world. Then he left to direct Alberta Ballet, and I went to Canada's National Ballet School. He later became artistic director at Boston Ballet, and when I graduated he invited me to join the company.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced ballet companies worldwide to cancel or postpone their seasons. But it's not just dancers and artistic staff that have found their work at a standstill. Costume departments, a vital component in bringing performances to life, have also hit pause. However, costume shops around the country, including Tulsa Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet and Miami City Ballet, have figured out a creative way to utilize their resources to give back to their communities during this challenging time. We touched base with Tulsa's team to find out what their experience has been like.
It's been a rough few weeks for the dance world, but here's some happy news: Boston Ballet announced seven dancer promotions this morning. Tigran Mkrtchyan will be made a principal, Chisako Oga is being promoted to soloist, Soo-bin Lee, Sun Woo Lee and Haley Schwan will take on the rank of second soloist, and Boston Ballet II dancers Molly Novak and Nations Wilkes-Davis will join the main company. The promotions will go into affect at the start of the 2020-21 season.
"It is truly rewarding to see our talented dancers develop into accomplished, versatile and exceptional artists," said Boston Ballet artistic director Miko Nissinen in a statement. "I am looking forward to their continued growth as they take on the diversity of repertoire in our upcoming season."
Read on below to find out more about these seven dancers.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that most upcoming ballet competitions have been cancelled or postponed. But the world's largest scholarship competition, Youth America Grand Prix, is finding another way to reach out to its community.
Following in the footsteps of a number of major dancers and platforms, YAGP is now offering daily virtual classes on all of its social media platforms. And even better, they're being taught be an evolving list of YAGP alumni and directors affiliated with the competition. So far, the roster includes dancers Maria Khoreva, Kathryn Morgan, Sasha De Sola and Skylar Brandt, as well as Princess Grace Academy artistic director Luca Masala, Boston Ballet II associate director Peter Stark, and many more. Participants will also have the chance to mix it up, with a special course on Horton technique for ballet dancers being offered by YAGP judge and former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member Karine Plantadit.
The effects of COVID-19 on college dancers might have been devastating. Performances were canceled, seniors trying to savor every last moment together were left without a graduation ceremony, students were encouraged to go home, and at each moment, a question has sounded: How can a student learn how to become a better performer when they are not allowed to perform?
Here at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, the ballet department rallied quickly and adapted its programming, choosing to see this hiatus as an opportunity to encourage reflection and self-improvement.