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ABT's Aran Bell and Joo Won Ahn Have Been Promoted to Soloist

Aran Bell in Swan Lake. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

Most years, American Ballet Theatre closes its spring Met season with a sweet surprise: company promotions. Artistic director Kevin McKenzie just announced that two members of the corps de ballet—Aran Bell and Joo Won Ahn—are being promoted to soloist, effective September 1.


Ever since we saw a young Aran Bell in the 2011 film First Position, we've known he was destined for something big. The Maryland-born Bell joined ABT's Studio Company in 2014, became an apprentice in 2016 and a member of the corps in 2017. This season alone he made two major princely debuts: Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty and Siegfried in Swan Lake. And last year marked his turn as Romeo. His repertoire also includes Lankendem in Le Corsaire, St. John in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre and roles in Tharp's Deuce Coupe and In The Upper Room, Ratmansky's Songs of Bukovina and The Seasons, and much more.

Joo Won Ahn in Le Corsaire. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Originally from Korea, Ahn joined the ABT Studio Company in 2013 after winning a gold medal at Youth America Grand Prix, and he was quickly shepherded through an apprenticeship and into the corps in 2014. He's already built up a pretty thorough classical repertoire including Solor in La Bayadère, Ali and Lankendem in Le Corsaire, Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty and the Russian and Spanish dances in The Nutcracker. He's also had the chance to hone his contemporary skills in Wayne McGregor's AFTERITE, Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room and a handful of works by Alexei Ratmansky.

ABT apprentices Jacob Clerico, Jarod Curley, Michael de la Nuez, Léa Fleytoux, Abbey Marrison and Ingrid Thoms have all been promoted to the corps. And Studio Company dancers Leah Baylin, Kanon Kimura, Melvin Lawovi, Joseph Markey, Duncan McIlwaine and Chloe Misseldine will become apprentices.

Congratulations to all!

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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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

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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