Jasmine Jimison as the Fairy of Playfulness in The Sleeping Beauty. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.
Jasmine Jimison is just 17, but she's already experiencing a fairy-tale ballet career: In her first year as a San Francisco Ballet apprentice, Jimison made sparkling main- stage debuts as Cupid in Don Quixote, the Ballerina Doll in The Nutcracker and, in The Sleeping Beauty, the Fairy of Playfulness and the Enchanted Princess, partnered by principal dancer Esteban Hernandez in the Bluebird pas de deux. Her tenure as an apprentice came to an abrupt end when artistic director Helgi Tomasson promoted her to the corps in March, just eight weeks into the season.
Adelaide Clauss and Tamás Krizsa perform Swan Lake's Act II pas de deux. Gene Witkowski, Courtesy The Washington Ballet.
Watching Adelaide Clauss dance intoxicates the senses, a visual equivalent of a flower's perfume. This past spring, while performing Swan Lake's Act II pas de deux at a benefit in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, her melding of grace and technique revealed her to be an artist of great promise. Her delicately positioned arms and hands floated as if to frame the beauty of ballet itself. Clauss was in her element: "I really love the demands of classical adagio," she says.
Mayumi Enokibara in Miami City Ballet's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB.
As a first-timer in the corps of Concerto Barocco, Mayumi Enokibara exercised a basic tenet: to find joy in a challenge. Though in the end she felt exhausted by the nonstop, intricately entwined Balanchine steps, the Brazilian-born ballerina—in her fourth year, following an apprenticeship, at Miami City Ballet—calls that performance last season's high point. "I loved giving it my all!" she says.
Edson Barbosa in Swan Lake. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.
In Yuri Possokhov's premiere of Anna Karenina at The Joffrey Ballet last February, Edson Barbosa opened the full-length with a thrilling solo. It's a sweeping, grandiose passage for the ill-fated station guard, who foreshadows Anna's tragic end. The role appealed to this Brazilian dancer's sensational stage presence and lusty technique. In fact, the three major roles he's danced for The Joffrey (the others being Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet and Hilarion in Giselle) have all had a flair for the dramatic. "I love dying onstage," he says.
Tommie Kesten in The Sleeping Beauty with Lucius Kirst. Rich Sofranko, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
With her shining stage presence and high-kicking moxie, first-year Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre corps member Tommie Kesten is hard to miss. In the company's recent premiere of Jordan Morris' The Great Gatsby, Kesten didn't need her bright green flapper dress to stand out in the corps—her playfulness and easy swagger shone on their own.
Christopher D'Ariano with PNB soloist Leah Merchant in Robyn Mineko Williams' The Trees The Trees. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.
During a recent performance of Matthew Neenan's Bacchus at Pacific Northwest Ballet, corps de ballet dancer Christopher D'Ariano stood out not only for his elegant lines and crisp jumps; audiences couldn't help but notice his unruly dark hair that defied any attempts to slick it back.
Mira Nadon in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.
You can't miss Mira Nadon when she's onstage: The 18-year-old, who joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice in fall 2017 and became a corps member in 2018, is tall and raven-haired, and dances with fullness and lyricism, carried along by the music. At her 2017 School of American Ballet Workshop performance, she was the female lead in the dramatic second movement of Balanchine's Scotch Symphony. New York dance critic Robert Gottlieb, of The Observer, described her performance as "delicate yet authoritative, charming but never cute, fully expressive but never pushing, lyrical and strong." This past spring, as a demi-soloist in that ballet with NYCB, she projected those same qualities. "It felt so good to be in that music again, after spending three months in it at SAB," she says.
Sage Humphries and Lauren Herfindahl in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet. Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
Onstage, Boston Ballet artist Sage Humphries is notable for her elegant poise and liquid grace. But offstage, she's a creative whirlwind: model, singer/songwriter and talented emerging choreographer. Amidst the demands of rehearsal and performance last fall, she choreographed her first major work, a deeply personal quintet set to original music by her brother Michael and showcased on Boston Ballet's BB@home: ChoreograpHER 2018. And this past May, the company asked her to create a new work for the music festival Boston Calling. Her White, commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' White Album, shared the festival spotlight with the likes of Tame Impala and Twenty One Pilots. "It was amazing to be part of that circle of artists who already had a huge fan base," she recalls. "The fact that Boston Ballet could be amongst that and get people excited about the art form was so special."
Courtney Lavine in Marcelo Gomes' AfterEffect. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.
Whether she's dancing within a group or in a featured role, what you first notice about American Ballet Theatre's Courtney Lavine are her long limbs and sweeping upper body. During her debut as Hail in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons earlier this spring—her first principal role—she bent generously to and fro as if blown by the winter wind. Her allégro was bouyant and spirited. Afterwards, an audience member whispered aloud what I was thinking: "She's lovely!"
María Álvarez in John Cranko's Romeo & Juliet. Photo by Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
In Boston Ballet's production of La Sylphide last spring, María Álvarez just about stole the show as Madge. With a conniving gleam in her eye and a grim, angular hitch in her step, she exuded a dramatic, malevolent energy and taut physicality that made the role totally her own. She credits renowned Royal Danish Ballet character artist Sorella Englund's coaching with helping her find the witch's inner torment. "She built the character in me, then gave me the freedom to make Madge alive," says Álvarez.
From Broadway's Billy Elliot to Bournonville, Redhead performs with effortless charisma. Photo by Klaus Vedfelt, Courtesy Royal Danish Ballet.
The Royal Danish Ballet's Ballet Festival in Copenhagen this June could have doubled as a showcase for corps dancer Liam Redhead, 23. On opening night, Redhead demonstrated his Bournonville mettle with a floating ballon and effortless charisma in Napoli's Act I ballabile. Then he delivered dazzling jumps as the Jester in artistic director Nikolaj Hübbe's Swan Lake, and later unleashed visceral power in Akram Khan's Vertical Road.