Chyrstyn Fentroy and Francis Lawrence in "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" with Dance Theatre of Harlem. Photo by Renata Pavam, Courtesy Fentroy.

Lower Rank, Higher Reward: Three Dancers Who Flourished When They Took a Demotion at a Different Company

Taking a lower rank at a new company can feel risky. But whether you're breaking out of your comfort zone, yearning for bigger challenges or finding a better company fit, you can make a successful transition. Here are three ballerinas whose recent moves have advanced their growth and artistry.


Fentroy at DTH. Photo by Rachel Neville, Courtesy Fentroy.

Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy: Dance Theatre of Harlem to Boston Ballet

Although Dance Theatre of Harlem isn't a ranked company, Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy spent much of her five years there dancing principal roles. She loved the touring, the repertoire and dancing beside her boyfriend, but she longed to try her luck at a larger company with more variety. And with DTH's mainly neoclassical focus, Fentroy felt her chances of dancing in a classical story ballet getting slim: "I wanted to do a full-length before it was too late."


She's now in her first season as a corps member at the much larger Boston Ballet. "Here we're learning new ballets all the time, so I was discombobulated at first," says Fentroy. But, she's loving the new stuff, which includes Justin Peck's In Creases and William Forsythe's Pas/Parts 2016, along with Romeo and Juliet and a big company Nutcracker.

After years of dancing leading roles, Fentroy was completely on board with joining the corps de ballet. "I wanted to work on my classical technique, to start low and work up," she says.


Fadeley and Jovani Furlan in "Diamonds." Photo by Alberto Oviedo, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

Lauren Fadeley: Pennsylvania Ballet to Miami City Ballet

After nine years with Pennsylvania Ballet, four as a principal, Lauren Fadeley felt that the company's recent change in leadership opened up space for her to consider a change, too. "I didn't see myself in the new environment of PAB," says Fadeley.

She considered her Balanchine roots as she looked for a new home, joining Miami City Ballet in 2016 as a soloist. "It was exciting and scary, but I owed it to myself to finish out my career in a Balanchine company." She didn't mind giving up principal status, either, treasuring the time to work on herself and regroup. "I needed to get my attack back."

Fadeley, who was promoted to principal soloist in 2017, is currently in the midst of her dream season, dancing the lead in "Diamonds" and the soloist role in "Rubies." "MCB has been a natural fit," she says. "Plus, it's two blocks from the beach. You can't beat that."


Keesler and Luke Willis in Helgi Tomasson's "Trio." Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy San Francisco Ballet.

Madison Keesler: English National Ballet to San Francisco Ballet

After a season at Hamburg Ballet, Madison Keesler spent four years at San Francisco Ballet, where she mainly danced in the corps. While she treasured her time at SFB, she felt she needed a larger toolbox of skills to truly develop as an artist. "I also wanted to experience some coaching," Keesler says. She joined English National Ballet, where over four years, she danced solo and principal roles as a first artist, including the title character in Akram Khan's Giselle. She was also nominated for the company's Emerging Dancer Award twice.

Despite her success abroad, Keesler rejoined SFB last July. "I had gained strength and was ready to return." While she hoped to return as a soloist, there was not a position available. But she has no regrets. "It's great to be back," she says. "I have more experience and knowledge from my time at ENB."

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks