Despite pandemic cancellations that have roiled the arts world, Boston Ballet dancers returned to the studio Monday to prepare for a hybrid 2020-2021 season, and the just-announced roster includes seven new dancers. Boston Ballet is composed of 52 dancers in the main company and eight in the second company, Boston Ballet II (BBII). Taken together, the dancers hail from 12 countries — Armenia, Australia, Brazil, China, England, France, Georgia, Ireland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the United States.
Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen said the company has developed a plan to safely allow dancers to work together again in small groups, following specific and highly monitored protocols. “The single most important thing has been to keep the company together,” he said. “There were no permanent layoffs, and all the dancers were reengaged, though a couple dropped out and moved away from professional dancing. The number one thing for me is we have an amazing company.”
While there are no major high-profile principal dancer acquisitions this year, two of the new dancers join as artists of the company. Gearóid Solan began his ballet training at Irish National Youth Ballet, leaving Ireland at age 15 to study at the Royal Ballet School in London. He danced professionally with Ballett Zürich. Beijing native Ao Wang trained at the Liaoning Ballet Academy of China before netting a full scholarship to The Washington School of Ballet. A multiple competition winner, she joined Miami City Ballet in 2016.
Five new dancers join BBII — Aviva Gelfer-Mündl (Tustin, Calif.), Brooks Landegger (New York, N.Y.), Gabriel Lorena (São Paulo, Brazil), Alainah Grace Reidy (Covington, La.), and Leighton Taylor (Charlotte, N.C.).
In addition, two BBII artists have been invited to join Boston Ballet’s main company, Molly Novak (Santa Monica, Calif.) and Nations Wilkes-Davis (Columbia, S.C.). Previously announced promotions from within the company include principal dancer Tigran Mkrtchyan (Yerevan, Armenia) and soloist Chisako Oga (Carlsbad, Calif.). Soo-bin Lee (Seoul, South Korea), Sun Woo Lee (Seoul, South Korea), and Haley Schwan (Dearborn, Mich.) have been promoted as second soloists.
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