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Miami City Ballet Principal Jovani Furlan to Join NYCB This Fall

Jovani Furlan in George Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy NYCB.

New York City Ballet announced on Facebook earlier this week that current Miami City Ballet principal Jovani Furlan will be joining the company as a soloist this fall. Furlan, a native of Joinville, Brazil, left Brazil's Bolshoi Theater School in 2011 to train at the MCB School; he joined the company as an apprentice in 2012 and has quickly made his way through the ranks.


Though it's highly unusual for NYCB to hire dancers from other companies (out of NYCB's 90 plus dancers, only two, Gonzalo Garcia and Ask La Cour, did not come straight from School of American Ballet), the company is in need of qualified male dancers to fill its upper ranks. Last fall, the company lost four principals: Joaquin de Luz retired, while Zachary Catazaro, Chase Finlay and Amar Ramasar were fired in the midst of a scandal surrounding the sharing of sexually explicit photos. NYCB also recently announced that Justin Peck will be stepping down as soloist at the end of the spring season to focus on choreographing and his new role as artistic advisor.

For Furlan, this move is a thrilling opportunity to dive deeper into George Balanchine's repertoire. "Growing up in Brazil and training at the Bolshoi I had very little awareness about Balanchine," he says, "but once I joined MCB School and started learning about it, I instantly fell in love with all of it." Furlan credits much of this passion to former MCB artistic director and NYCB star Edward Villella. "Once I started taking classes with the company, watching him teaching class and the steps with such style and attack was unreal," he says, adding, "We were extremely lucky and blessed to have Lourdes Lopez take over and keep the Balanchine legacy alive. She's always been so committed to the integrity of all of Mr. B's works and has so much to share."

As for why he's decided to leave MCB for NYCB, Furlan stresses the importance of jumping at new opportunities. "NYCB has an unparalleled repertoire in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and that's what it's about: the repertoire and the amount of performing I'll get to do," he says. "This career is so short and demanding; you never know how long you're going to last."

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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