News

Dancer Exodus at Pennsylvania Ballet

At the time of our April/May cover shoot, Mayara Piñeiro was soloist. She's now a new principal at PAB. (photo by Nathan Sayers for Pointe)

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.

The Conversation
Viral Videos
Brittany Cavaco in Until Midnight. Claire Morris, Courtesy Cavaco.

A white tulle dress, time travel, the Eiffel Tower at night... these elements come together in Until Midnight, a new dance film by Christopher Alexander of Zen Film Works. This eight-minute long vignette opens with Louise (played by Louise Schirmer), a former ballerina now living alone in old age. Through the delivery of a mysterious letter and a wristwatch from her past, she returns briefly to her youthful self, danced by former Washington Ballet dancer Brittany Cavaco. In a Cinderella-like twist, Louise has until midnight to find her beloved Jean Pierre (Sebastien Thill, former dancer with Paris Opera Ballet and Hamburg Ballet) for one last dance. According to Cavaco, all of the movement was improvised, created by herself and Alexander in each location.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Training
Peter Boal in class a New York City Center. Courtesy PNB.

"People have so much fear associated with arabesque turns," says Peter Boal, artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Here, he shares images and ideas to help you confidently master this advanced pirouette. "It's a real accomplishment when you can put it all together."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Ashley Bouder in George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova's Coppélia. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

Hollywood may have the Oscars, but ballet has the Prix de Benois de la Danse. Held every spring at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, the prestigious international awards ceremony recognizes dancers, choreographers, composers and designers for their extraordinary work on and off the stage. This year's laureates, chosen by a jury, were announced during an awards ceremony last night, followed by a star-studded gala featuring many of the nominated artists.

Keep reading... Show less
Viral Videos
Still via YouTube

American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside is known for more than just his uber-charismatic presence on the ballet stage; He doubles as both the drag queen Ühu Betch and the pop star JbDubs. Whiteside's newest musical release, titled WTF, came out last week, and is for sure his most ballet-filled song to date. Both the lyrics and the choreography are jam-packed with bunhead references, from the Rose Adagio to Haglund's Heel to a framed portrait of George Balanchine. Not to mention the fact that he and his four backup dancers (Matthew Poppe, Douane Gosa, Maxfield Haynes and Gianni Goffredo) absolutely kill it in pointe shoes.

Keep reading... Show less