"Our next generation is coming in very strong,” says Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, who recently promoted five company dancers to the rank of principal—Kathleen Breen Combes, Pavel Gurevich, Melissa Hough, Misa Kuranaga and James Whiteside. Significantly, four of the five members of the new crop of stars worked their way up from either Boston Ballet II or the company’s corps de ballet. (The promotions are a happy counterpoint to the company’s March 2008 layoffs, when nine dancers found out that their contracts would not be renewed.)
Nissinen says that the cultivation of in-house talent has been a goal of his since he joined BB in 2001. “Boston Ballet has a uniquely varied repertoire,” he says. “I’ve always supported dancers who make their way through our ranks, because they are immersed in this repertoire from the beginning. They become familiar with the company’s artistic diet, which is an essential part of the preparation for larger roles." Nissinen is glad to see his efforts come to fruition with the success of these new principals. "Right now," he says, "I'm a very proud parent."