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.

Misa Kuranaga and Sasha Mukhamedov Are Joining San Francisco 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.



Kuranaga and Angelo Greco in Helgi Tomasson's Soirées Musicales, part of SFB's opening night gala in January.

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Kuranaga's appointment marks a full-circle moment. Originally from Japan, she danced with SFB for one year as an apprentice in 2001. When she wasn't taken into the company, she spent a year refining her technique at the School of American Ballet before joining Boston Ballet's corps in 2003. Since then, she's quickly risen through the ranks, becoming one of the company's biggest draws. Earlier this year she returned to SFB to perform as a guest artist in the company's opening night gala.

Mukhamedov in Balanchine's Apollo.

Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

Mukhamedov, on the other hand, has spent her entire career at Dutch National Ballet, joining as an aspirant in 2008 and rising to principal dancer by 2017. The daughter of legendary Bolshoi and Royal Ballet star Irek Mukhamedov, she trained at the Royal Ballet School as well as privately with her mother, former Bolshoi soloist Masha Mukhamedov. In 2017 she talked candidly with Pointe about living up to her famous parents' reputations: "There are times when people recognize my name, and it's instant pressure."

SFB also announced that former Polish National Ballet demi-soloist Bianca Teixeira will be joining the company's corps de ballet. Meanwhile, SFB apprentices Leili Rackow, Estéban Cuadrado, Max Föllmer, Joshua Jack Price, and Jacob Seltzer have been promoted to the corps, joining Jasmine Jimison, who was promoted in March. And finally, trainees SunMin Lee, Tyla Steinbach, Rubén Cítores, Lleyton Ho and Adrien Zeisel have been named apprentices.

Latest Posts


xmb photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet

The Washington Ballet's Sarah Steele on Her At-Home Workouts

Ballet at home: Since she's not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. "I'm working in more of a maintenance mode," she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. "If you don't work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I've been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory."

What she's always working on: Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the "under-butt" area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. "Those 'basic food group'–type exercises are some of the best ones," she says.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Hiding Injuries: Why Downplaying Pain Can Lead to Bigger Problems Down the Road

Sabrina Landa was thrilled to be offered a traineeship with Pennsylvania Ballet. "As a trainee, everything felt like a chance to prove myself as a professional," she says. Her training hours increased and she was dancing more than she ever had before. When Landa began experiencing pain in her metatarsals partway through the 2018 Nutcracker season, she notified the staff. "But in fear of losing my shows, I downplayed the severity of it," Landa says.

She notes that no one pushed her to keep dancing but herself. "I was 18 and was aiming to receive a contract by the end of the year," she says. "I felt so much anxiety over missing an opportunity that I was afraid to be honest about my pain." Pennsylvania Ballet's artistic staff were understanding and supportive, but Landa minimized her injury for the next few months, wanting to push through until the season ended and contracts were offered. But after months of pain and an onset of extreme weakness in her foot, Landa was diagnosed with two stress fractures in her second and third metatarsals. She spent the next three months on crutches and six months off dancing to allow for the fractures' delayed healing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Skjalg Bøhmer Vold, Courtesy Merritt Moore

How Quantum Physicist Ballerina Merritt Moore Learned to Dance With a Robot (Plus, Her Newest Film)

When the world went into lockdown last March, most dancers despaired. But not Merritt Moore. The Los Angeles native, who lives in London and has danced with Norwegian National Ballet, English National Ballet and Boston Ballet, holds a PhD in atomic and laser physics from the University of Oxford. A few weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, she came up with a solution for having to train and work alone: robots.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks