Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.
Summer means promotions announcements, and dancers transitioning from one company to another. And while we've already shared some updates with you (see San Francisco Ballet here and here, American Ballet Theatre here), more news is being released each day. Below, we've rounded up recent updates from seven companies. Read on to find out whose names you'll be seeing in playbills across the country (and Canada!) in the year to come.
On October 13, the evening before the close of New York City Ballet's fall season and longtime principal Joaquin De Luz's retirement performance, Jonathan Stafford, the leader of the company's interim artistic team, promoted seven company dancers: six men and one woman. In addition to De Luz, NYCB lost three other principal men this fall. Chase Finlay, Zachary Catazaro and Amar Ramasar were fired last month in the midst of a scandal surrounding the sharing of sexually explicit communications. With principal Adrian Danchig-Waring out of commission while recovering from a broken foot, the company has been in need of male dancers to bolster its upper ranks.
Joseph Gordon has been promoted to principal, and Daniel Applebaum, Harrison Coll, Claire Kretzschmar, Aaron Sanz, Sebastian Villarini-Velez and Peter Walker have been promoted to soloist. All seven made a number of debuts throughout the year and shone in featured roles; we've rounded up some of their recent accomplishments below.
Boston Ballet might be the new United Nations. The company's 2017-2018 roster was announced this morning, and the 65 dancers are representative of 15 different nationalities. Which countries are present at this ballet roundtable? Albania, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Finland, France, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Paraguay, South Korea, Spain and the U.S.
The company boasts the addition of thirteen new dancers and nine promotions.
Our October/November 2016 cover star, Derek Dunn, is leaving Houston Ballet to join BB as a soloist.
Chrystyn FentroyRachel Neville Photography, Courtesy Boston Ballet
Watching dancers you've admired and rooted for get promoted is a wonderful feeling. And New York City Ballet dropped some major news this weekend when the company announced not one promotion, but eight!
Russell Janzen, one of NYCB's most supremely elegant men, was promoted to principal.
There were also a ton of promotions from corps de ballet to soloist:
- Troy Schumacher, who is also the director and choreographer for BalletCollective, his own company.
How I'm feeling right now. Twelve years ago this month, I gave my first performance with @nycballet in Stars and Stripes. Over the past years, I've been fortunate, throughout the many ups and downs, to have had the opportunity to dance so many wonderful corps and soloist roles alongside the best dancers in the world. I've constantly tried to push myself and give it my all on stage whenever I could. Through all of this time, I eventually learned that validation comes from inside. There's no better reward than from hard work, and I always hoped that yesterday would have come from it. When it did, I still couldn't believe it.
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- Unity Phelan, who we mentioned in our 2015 Stars of the Corps feature, is a corps member no longer.
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- Indiana Woodward, who danced the lead in Lauren Lovette's ballet For Clara, which premiered at NYCB's 2016 fall gala.
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- Harrison Ball, who received the Janice Levin Dancer Award for 2013–2014, and Joseph Gordon, who received the same award for 2015–2016.
- Emilie Gerrity, who we followed for a day to find out what life is like in NYCB.
- Sara Adams, who also dances in Tom Gold Dance.
For Michaela DePrince, 2017 is off to a happy start: Last week, the Dutch National Ballet dancer was promoted to soloist. The announcement came during the company's run of Coppélia, in which she made her debut as Swanhilda. Dancers Qian Liu and Sasha Mukhamedov were both promoted to principal as well.
DePrince's journey from an orphanage in Sierra Leone to a career as a professional ballet dancer is already legendary in the ballet world, and her role in the documentary First Position made her a household name. Since then, she's frequently been in the spotlight, and kept busy with a host of projects: There's her memoir, Taking Flight (soon to be adapted into a feature-length film), her role as a featured dancer in Beyoncé's visual album Lemonade, and her work as an ambassador for War Child Holland, which helps children living in war zones. She’s also become an international guest artist, and will be making her UK debut this month, dancing Myrtha in English National Ballet’s Giselle.
But for much of the time, the 21-year-old has been quietly growing and maturing as a dancer at Dutch National. After briefly dancing with Dance Theatre of Harlem, she joined Dutch National's junior company in 2013, and entered the main company the following year. She was promoted to coryphée in 2015, and to grand sujet at the beginning of 2016. In a Dance Spirit cover profile last year, she talked about her goal of becoming a principal dancer, and her desire to focus on her dancing and artistry, despite all the attention given to her backstory. “I’m here not because of my story,” she said, “but because of who I am as an artist.”
From the looks of it, her hard work and passion are paying off. Congratulations, Michaela!
Generosa has received many recent opportunities to shine onstage, including during the company's tour to New York City earlier this year and as an artist at the Vail International Dance Festival, where videos of her rehearsals with New York City Ballet's Joseph Gordon show what an assured performer she is.
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Matthew Renko is not only a rising dancer who has received special recognition in The New York Times, but a choreographer as well. He's created work twice for Next Step, PNB's choreographic program which allows company members to work with Professional Division students.
Benjamin Griffiths has danced with the company since 2005. Here's a #throwback video of Griffiths and former Pointe cover star Leta Biasucci dancing part of the "Bluebird" variation from The Sleeping Beauty. His crisp footwork and magnetic stage presence certainly seem fit for a principal!
Congratulations to all!
Well, that was fast. After less than a year, Jeffrey Cirio — the former Boston Ballet principal who joined American Ballet Theatre as a soloist at the start of this season—is walking into summer with a promotion to ABT's highest rank. The company now has two Filipino-American principals, the other being Stella Abrera.
We're not surprised. Twenty-five years old and already a consummate artist, Cirio impressed in roles all season, like Colas in La fille mal gardée, one of the King's unlucky sons in The Golden Cockerel and the virtuosic slave Ali in Le Corsaire. Cirio's ambitions extend beyond the Met stage, too. He's the leader of his own touring troupe, Cirio Collective, which has performances scheduled at the Cape Dance Festival and Vineyard Arts Project this summer.
Artistic director Kevin McKenzie also announced corps member Blaine Hoven's promotion to soloist. These two well deserving male dancers are sure to have a spring in their step this holiday weekend!
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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.
Today, American Ballet Theatre announced that longtime company soloists Misty Copeland and Stella Abrera have been promoted to principal dancer. San Francisco Ballet star Maria Kochetkova and Royal Danish Ballet principal Alban Lendorf will also join ABT next season as principals (though they will remain principals with their respective companies), and Boston Ballet principal Jeffrey Cirio joins as a soloist. Corps de ballet members Skylar Brandt, Thomas Forster, Luciana Paris, Arron Scott and Cassandra Trenary have been promoted to soloist.
The news follows months of speculation after three of ABT's major stars—Julie Kent, Paloma Herrera and Xiomara Reyes—announced their retirements. The promotion has been a long time coming for Abrera, who has been with the company since 1996 and a soloist since 2001. She made a critically acclaimed debut as Giselle last month. Copeland, who made principal debuts in Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake this season, makes history as the company's first female African American principal dancer. Congratulations to all!
There's a warm and fuzzy feeling when dancers you've been following for years finally make it to the top. Of course, just making it into a company is a remarkable accomplishment and something to be proud of. But if there's one thing successful dancers have in common, it's that they never settle. And the corps is great until you're ready to be a soloist...and so on.
The lucky few who have recently been promoted to principal include Pennsylvania Ballet's Alexander Peters, New York City Ballet's Lauren Lovette and Anthony Huxley, The National Ballet of Canada's Elena Lobsanova and Naoya Ebe, and San Francisco Ballet's Dores André. New soloists include Ashly Isaacs at NYCB and several new first and second soloists at NBC.
Some of my favorite (coincidentally, all American) dancers are climbing the ranks at NBC: Skylar Campbell was promoted to first soloist and Emma Hawes and Kathryn Hosier (a 2014 Star of the Corps) were promoted to second soloist. It's especially gratifying to see dancers—like Alexander Peters and (April/May 2013 cover star) Lauren Lovette—succeed, since Pointe named them as stars very early on in their careers. Congratulations to all the promoted dancers—we can't wait to see you in new roles and opportunities!