A new principal dancer, Viktorina Kapitonova, has taken the leap to join Boston Ballet for the 2018-19 season, arriving from Ballett Zürich. Meanwhile Wellesley native Emily Hoff, who attended Boston Ballet School and has danced the role of Clara in the company’s “Nutcracker,” joins at the level of “artist of the company,” Boston Ballet’s name for its corps members.
As the company announces its roster for the season, the two are among a total of 56 dancers in the main company and 10 in the apprentice troupe, Boston Ballet II.
Sixteen countries are represented in this year’s Boston Ballet: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Paraguay, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the United States. But the company continues to have a strong home base: 32 percent of the dancers are alumni of Boston Ballet II, and 24 percent are Boston Ballet School alumni.
Hiring new principal dancers has been relatively rare at Boston Ballet in recent years. The new principal, Kapitonova, was born in Russia. While she was at Ballett Zürich, the company’s director, Christian Spuck, created a full-length version of “Anna Karenina” for her. She has also danced Odette/Odile in Alexei Ratmansky’s reconstruction of the original 1895 “Swan Lake.”
Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen describes Kapitonova as “a beautiful, beautiful ballerina” and “a beautiful person,” and he praises her “integrity” and her “work ethic.” She didn’t just send in a video, he says; “she came in person, a couple times. She heard about our reputation and wanted to come and dance the repertoire we do.” He believes she will be “an example for the whole company and the younger dancers,” and he concludes, “I’m very excited that she decided to join Boston Ballet and not the other major companies in this country.”
After Hoff attended Boston Ballet School, Nissinen recalls, she “went to Royal Ballet School for a year and saw the European scene. Then she went to San Francisco and she was very happy there, so another perspective. And now I’m very happy to get her back. She said, ‘I want to dance the versatile rep, and this is where I want to be.’ That was her choice, and I was very happy to welcome her.”
Joining Boston Ballet as other artists of the company are Lauren Flower (who actually arrived toward the end of 2017, but this will be her first full season); Sun Woo Lee from Seoul; and Benji Pearson, who last season was an apprentice with San Francisco Ballet.
Five promotions have also been announced: Derek Dunn and Ji Young Chae to principal dancer, Patric Palkens to soloist, and Chyrstyn Fentroy and Drew Nelson to second soloist.
Dunn, who arrived last season from Houston Ballet, starred as a superbly insolent Mercutio in John Cranko’s “Romeo & Juliet,” the Prodigal in George Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son,” and Gurn in Bournonville’s “La Sylphide.” Chae was Princess Florine in the Bluebird Pas de Deux of “The Sleeping Beauty” this past season; she also danced the Pas de Deux from August Bournonville’s “Flower Festival in Genzano.” Palkens, who arrived last season from Cincinnati Ballet, was also cast as both the Prodigal and Gurn, as well as in the “Flower Festival in Genzano” Pas de Deux. Fentroy, who arrived last season from Dance Theatre of Harlem, was the Siren in “Prodigal Son.”
Two dancers from Boston Ballet School have been accepted into Boston Ballet II: Kyleigh Sudlow and Nations Wilkes-Davis. Wilkes-Davis danced the male lead, and Sudlow was featured last June in the company’s “Next Generation” presentation of the third act of “Raymonda.” Joining Boston Ballet II from outside the school are Nikita Boris, Georgia Dalton, Ryan Kwasniewski, and My’Kal Stromile.