The other shoe has dropped at Pennsylvania Ballet, a little over a year into former American Ballet Theatre star Angel Corella's new artistic directorship. Corella was appointed in July, 2014 and quickly made changes. In August, 2014, most of the senior artistic staff left the company. Now, Pointe contributor and Pennsylvania-based journalist Ellen Dunkel reports in The Inquirer that nearly 40 percent of the dancers are doing the same.
Since PAB is an AGMA company, the company's union rules stipulate that new directors must spend one continuous year on the job before terminating dancers' contracts. In a rather unprecedented mass firing, twelve were let go, and five are leaving of their own volition.
Dunkel writes that six dancers were paid to leave the company last year, and says others are thinking of leaving now. Notable departures include principal Lauren Fadeley, who chose to join Miami City Ballet as a soloist. Her husband, principal Francis Veyette did not have his contract renewed and will also leave the company—including his position as Pennsylvania Ballet II artistic director. Soloist Evelyn Kocak will move to New York City for a freelance career. Many other exiting dancers are in the corps.
Corella has drummed up excitement for the company with his own staging of Don Quixote (a first for PAB) and a recent tour to NYC. Though the tour received measured reviews, it gave NYC audiences and critics a chance to see some of the talent (like our April/May cover star, Mayara Piñeiro) that Corella has been pushing—and pushing hard. It also indicated his vision for PAB's future: A lot less Balanchine, which has traditionally been the backbone of the company. As PAB moves forward, it looks to no longer be a priority.
In the process of reshaping the company, Corella has hired a slew of new dancers and promoted current members. Soloists Lillian DiPiazza, Oksana Maslova and Piñeiro have all been promoted to principal dancers. In a wild twist, American Ballet Theatre corps member Sterling Bacca has been hired as a principal. Dance Theatre of Harlem member Nayara Lopes will join as a corps member. Dayesi Torriente, a former principal dancer at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, comes on board as soloist. Check out the full list of new hires here.
As Corella continues to make changes, we wish the best to the newly unemployed dancers and wait excitedly to see where the next few years of leadership and programming take the company.