Ballet Stars

Promotions Roundup

San Francisco Ballet's Jennifer Stahl in William Forsythe's "Pas/Parts." Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy of SFB.

The past few months have brought promotions galore. We already shared Miami City Ballet's list in May as well as the major news from American Ballet Theatre last week, but we rounded up the news from nine other major companies to keep you in the loop.


The Royal Ballet

Exciting news came from London last week when Yasmine Naghdi was promoted to principal dancer after what director Kevin O'Hare called an "extraordinary year." Additional promotions include Matthew Ball and Marcelino Sambé to first soloist, and Reece Clarke, Benjamin Ella and Anna Rose O'Sullivan to soloist. Hannah Grennel, Calvin Richardson, Gina Storm-Jensen and David Yudes will take on the rank of first artists.

Yasmine Naghdi in "The Sleeping Beauty." Photo by Tristram Kenton, Courtesy of ROH.


San Francisco Ballet

With the retirement of longtime principal Lorena Feijoo and husband and wife team Davit Karapetyan and Vanessa Zahorian after the 2017 season, SFB had big (ballet) shoes to fill. In June the company announced ten promotions, including eight new members and six apprentices. Who's moving up? Jennifer Stahl (check out her crunchy kale recipe here) has been promoted to principal, and Isabella DeVivo, Jahna Frantziskonis (our February/March cover star), Esteban Hernandez and Steven Morse will be soloists. Filling those spots in the corps are SFB apprentices Alexandre Cagnat, Shené Lazarus, Davide Occhipinti, Nathaniel Remez and Isabella Walsh. Ulrik Birkkjaer and Ana Sophia Scheller are coming into the company as principals as well as a list of new corps members including English National Ballet dancer Madison Keesler. This spring will bring SFB's exciting Unbound festival of new works, and we're looking forward to seeing these dancers get their moment in the spotlight.



ENB's Cesar Corrales. Photo Courtesy of English National Ballet.


English National Ballet

ENB wunderkind Cesar Corrales was promoted to principal over the weekend. Artistic director Tamara Rojo announced his promotion onstage in front of the entire audience and company after a rousing performance in Le Corsaire while on tour in Japan. At just 20 years old, Corrales will be ENB's youngest principal. In case that's not enough, Corrales was the 2016 winner of both ENB's Emerging Dancer and People's Choice Awards.

Aaron Robison has left San Francisco Ballet to join ENB as a lead principal, and Joseph Caley of Birmingham Royal Ballet will join as a principal. National Ballet of Canada's Jurgita Dronina also joins as lead principal, and she will split her time between the two companies.


National Ballet of Canada

Speaking of National Ballet of Canada, artistic director Karen Kain announced five promotions last month. Emma Hawes (get her workout tips here), Hannah Fischer (recent star of Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale) and Brendan Saye are becoming first soloists, and Félix Paquet and Ben Rudisin will be promoted to second soloists.


Colorado Ballet

Breaking news! Colorado Ballet artistic director Gil Boggs announced company promotions today. Asuka Sasaki is being promoted from soloist to principal and Christophor Moulton is moving from the corps to become a soloist. Tracy Jones, a 2013 Pointe "Star of the Corps," was also promoted to soloist. Arianna Ciccarelli and Mackenzie Dessens are joining the corps after apprenticeships.


Ballet West

Artistic director Adam Sklute announced three promotions at Ballet West: former first soloist Adrian Fry is now a principal artist, and Chelsea Keefer and Gabrielle Salvatto become demi soloists. Ballet West is also bringing in new corps dancers from their second company, Ballet West II, as well from this past year's national audition tour.


Ballet West's Adrian Fry. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy of Ballet West.

Pennsylvania Ballet

Across the country in Pennsylvania, 13 dancers will be moving up in rank. Soloist Dayesi Torriente, previously with National Ballet of Cuba, will be promoted to principal, and Alexandra Hughes will become a soloist. Current apprentices Jacqueline Callahan, Emily Davis, Therese Davis, Alexandra Heier, Siobhan Howley and Jack Sprance will move up to the corps while a new group of apprentices take their place.


Tulsa Ballet

Tulsa Ballet celebrated their 60th anniversary this season with the world premiere of Dorothy and the Prince of Oz, and are heading over the rainbow and into their 61st with three new company members and three promotions. Cavan Conley and Shuhei Yoshida are becoming soloists and Jessica Payne is joining the corps.


Royal Winnipeg Ballet

This top Canadian company promoted five dancers including Alanna McAdie from second soloist to soloist, Liam Caines from corps de ballet to second soloist, and Jesse Petrie from apprentice to the corps. Halfway through their 2016/17 season apprentices Yue Shi and Saeka Shirai also advanced to the corps.


Whew! We just threw a lot of names your way. But keep these talented dancers in mind for the incredible accomplishments surely yet to come.




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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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

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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Site Network
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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Ballet Stars
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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