Two Pointe cover stars, two Japanese dancers and a woman who rocketed through two ranks in one year are among the dancers newly promoted to The Royal Ballet's highest ranks. With artistic maturity far beyond her 23 years, we knew it was only a matter of time before Francesca Hayward, who we featured in our February/March 2016 cover story, rose to the top. She'll start next season as a principal along with Alexander Campbell, Ryoichi Hirano and Akane Takada.
With these newly promoted dancers, The Royal's principal roster reflects more diversity. Hirano and Takada, both Japan-born, came to The Royal Ballet fresh off of Prix de Lausanne triumphs. Campbell is a native of Australia and Hayward, who grew up in England, was born in Nairobi to a Kenyan mother and a British father. Yet while there's been much public interest in her African heritage, she's more vocal about her English training. In our February/March issue, Hayward told writer Laura Cappelle, “It's only when people ask me what it's like to be a mixed-race dancer that I realize that I am. I've never been made to feel different, or like I shouldn't be doing it."
American dancer Beatriz Stix-Brunell (our 2012 October/November cover girl) is a new first soloist. Before joining The Royal, Stix-Brunell was a protégé of artistic associate Christopher Wheeldon. She trained in New York and at the Paris Opéra Ballet School, and she joined Wheeldon's Morphoses when she was just a teenager. Claire Calvert and Yasmine Naghdi are also newly appointed first soloists, and Matthew Ball and Mayara Magri have been promoted from first artist to soloist.
English dancer Tierny Heap was promoted to first artist in the middle of the 2015/2016 season. She danced the title role in Carlos Acosta's Carmen among other featured roles, and artistic director Kevin O'Hare evidently decided that Heap needed even greater tests for her talents. She will start the 2016/2017 season as a soloist.
See The Royal's website for a full list of promotions, new hires and departures.