Ballet Stars

Meet the Latest Princess Grace Award Winners

Miriam Miller as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy New York City Ballet.

Each year, the Princess Grace Foundation honors an extraordinary group of artists. This year, ballet got a major nod. Six of the eight winners in the dance performance and choreography category are ballet-related. (The other two are Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Jacquelin Harris and downtown dance-theater choreographer Raja Feather Kelly.) While you already know some of these names, we're excited to follow the careers of newcomers, like current Juilliard dance major Mikaela Kelly. Past Princess Grace Award winners include the likes of Carlos Acosta, Gillian Murphy and Tiler Peck, so they're in exceptional company.


Here's a breakdown of the awardees from the ballet world. Congrats!

Mikaela Kelly (Dance Scholarship): Currently in her fourth year at The Juilliard School, the dance major has already performed at hallowed venues like the Metropolitan Opera House and the Kennedy Center. Before enrolling in college, she was a student at the American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.

Miriam Miller (Dance Fellowship, Chris Hellman Dance Award): Though she only joined New York City Ballet's corps in January 2016, the young artist has already danced several featured roles, like Titania in Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Siren in his Prodigal Son.

The stunning Miriam Miller. Photo by Lucas Chilczuk for Dance Spirit

Gian Carlo Perez (Dance Fellowship): The Washington Ballet company member began his career at the prestigious National Ballet of Cuba.

Lyvan Verdecia (Dance Fellowship): The former National Ballet of Cuba dancer is now wowing audiences as a member of Ballet Hispanico.

Bryan Arias (Choreography Fellowship): Full of contemporary cool, Arias performed with Nederlands Dans Theater, Crystal Pite's Kidd Pivot and Complexions Contemporary Ballet before dedicating himself to dancemaking. This coming season, his choreography will be on display at Charlotte Ballet, where he also danced.

Gemma Bond (Choreography Fellowship): The American Ballet Theatre corps members pulls double duty as a choreographer, and she's been increasingly in demand. This spring, she was commissioned by Atlanta Ballet. This week, her own troupe, Gemma Bond Dance, is performing a trio of works at the Joyce Ballet Festival. And she's been tapped to create a new piece for The Washington Ballet in spring of 2018.

PGA winner Gemma Bond rehearsing Cassandra Trenary. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

For the complete list of all the Princess Grace Award winners, click here.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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