Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announced the company’s 2010-2011 roster featuring 19 new dancers, as company and Boston Ballet II members returned to Boston Ballet’s studios today to begin rehearsals for the 2010-2011 season.
“Boston Ballet’s momentum continues to build and increasing the Company’s size is an integral part of our growth. I’m thrilled to announce the promotion of several dancers and to add new talent to the 2010-2011 roster,” said Nissinen. “We have a fantastic season ahead, including our fifth annual Night of Stars, lavish productions like La Bayadére and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and contrasting contemporary programs which will showcase the artistic and technical abilities of the dancers. All the company members, both new and seasoned, are eager to take the stage and I know our audiences will enjoy getting to know them through their performances on stage, as well as through their contributions as members of the community.”
Nissinen continues Boston Ballet’s tradition of developing a strong, versatile company by cultivating talent from within the Company and Boston Ballet School while also recruiting from around the world. Boston Ballet’s roster has dancers from 15 different countries with the majority of the company members hailing from the United States. Boston Ballet’s 58-dancer roster also includes 20 dancers who trained with Boston Ballet School or Boston Ballet II, the company’s pre-professional apprentice program.
For the 2010-2011 season, Boston Ballet soloist Lia Cirio has been promoted to principal; company members Tiffany Hedman, Whitney Jensen, Dalay Parrondo, Jeffrey Cirio, and Lorin Mathis have been promoted to second soloist; and three dancers from Boston Ballet II have been promoted as company members: Rachel Cossar, Sylvia Deaton, and Emily Mistretta. Nissinen announced the addition of Lasha Khozashvili (Georgia) as a principal dancer; Adiarys Almeida (Cuba) and Joseph Gatti (U.S.) as soloists; Ekaterine Chubinidze (Georgia), Vanessa Dirven (France), Keenan Kampa (U.S.), Yurika Kitano (Japan), Claire Stallman (U.S.), Paulo Arrais (Brazil), Mykola Kravets (Ukraine), Duncan Lyle (Australia), and Rodrigo Almarales (Cuban) as company members. Nissinen also adds Samantha Benoit (U.S.), Danyla Bezerra (Brazil), Rebekah Hostetter (U.S.), Maria Portillo (Spain), Melanie Riffee (U.S.), Walter Angelini (Italy), Trevor Felixbrod (U.S.), and Matthew Poppe (U.S.) to BBII.
The full company will take the stage on October 23 with Night of Stars, the fifth annual one-night-only, season kick-off performance at The Boston Opera House. Night of Stars is followed by La Bayadére, November 4-14, a brand new production featuring redesigned costumes and sets. The Nutcracker continues the fall season, November 26-December 31, with an extended run of 40 performances.
Dancers who have been promoted within the company are:
Principal Lia Cirio joined Boston Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2004 after dancing with BBII. She was promoted to second soloist in 2006, soloist in 2007, and to principal for the 2010-2011 season. Cirio is known for her versatility, originating roles in Resident Choreographer Jorma Elo’s Carmen and Brake the Eyes and with a classical repertoire including Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and Romeo and Juliet. She was hailed by The New York Times for her mastery of the Balanchine style in last spring’s performances of Theme and Variations, “Cirio coped brightly with [the] arduous technical demands, achieving victory by demonstrating the roles contrasts.” Cirio has received a Level One award from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and was a Princess Grace nominee in 2004. She is sister of second soloist Jeffrey Cirio.
Second Soloist Tiffany Hedman joined Boston Ballet in 2008 as a company member after dancing with Miami City Ballet for four seasons. Hedman previously trained with Boston Ballet School and as a member of BBII in 2002, as well as with San Francisco Ballet. Her repertoire includes varied works by classical, neo-classical, and contemporary choreographers and she was highlighted by The Boston Phoenix for her impressive speed and clarity in Boston Ballet’s 2009 production of Balanchine’s Jewels and 2010 performances of The Four Temperaments.
Second Soloist Whitney Jensen joined the Company in 2009. Jensen has received seven gold medals and one silver medal in competitions including the Youth America Grand Prix, American Ballet Competition, The World Ballet Competition, and Seoul International Dance Competition. In 2008, Jensen participated in the 23rd Varna International Ballet Competition where she won the highest award possible, The Special Distinction Medal and Diploma, an award which has only been given 4 other times in Varna's 44 year history. The New York Times wrote of her 2010 performance in Balanchine’s Apollo, “newcomer Whitney Jensen [was] outstanding in the difficult steps, [she] brings a blithe ease to the role that makes me long to see her in other parts.” Jensen was on the cover of the January 2010 DANCE Magazine.
Second Soloist Dalay Parrondo joined Boston Ballet in 2004. Parrondo began her training at the Cuban National Ballet School and was a member of the National Ballet of Cuba. In her 2009 performance in Balanchine’s Jewels, The Hub Review wrote “Dalay Parrondo was a light rush of Balanchinean perfection.” Parrondo is married to soloist Jaime Diaz.
Second Soloist Jeffrey Cirio joined Boston Ballet in 2009. He previously trained with Boston Ballet School before joining BBII in 2007. He was awarded a gold medal in the New York finals of the Youth America Grand Prix and a silver medal in the Seoul International Dance Competition. Cirio was awarded the prestigious Princess Grace Fellowship in 2009. He was called “one to watch” by The Boston Globe after his first performance with the company in the 2009 Night of Stars. Most recently, Cirio was acclaimed for his performances in the principal role of Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina on Boston Ballet’s January 2010 tour to Ottawa Canada and summer tour to Spain. Jeffrey is brother to Principal Lia Cirio.
Second Soloist Lorin Mathis joined Boston Ballet in 2006 after dancing with San Francisco Ballet for two years and Alberta Ballet for four years. He has excelled in classics such as John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet as well as in new works by Helen Pickett and Jorma Elo. Mathis’ 2009 performance in Giselle was described by Ballet Magazine as “truly memorable.”
Rachel Cossar joins the Company after two years with BBII. Cossar trained at the National Ballet School of Canada, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and École Supérieure de Danse Contemporaire before joining Boston Ballet School as a trainee. Cossar was a member of the Canadian National Rythmic Gymnastics team for ten years and has competed in extensive rhythmic gymnastics competitions including the World Championships (Budapest), World Club Championships (Japan), Pan American Championships, Grand Prix (Israel, Russia), and World Gymnaestrada. She was highlighted as a dancer “on the rise” standing out for her “spectacular extensions and utter fearlessness” by Pointe Magazine in 2009.
Sylvia Lee Deaton joins Boston Ballet after training with Boston Ballet School and two years in BBII. Deaton has competed in the Tanzolymp Festival in Berlin, Germany where she received a silver medal and the Festival Dance program at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada where she received the Alice Schultz Scholarship. Deaton also participated in Boston Ballet School’s 2007 exchange program with the Royal Danish Ballet culminating in a performance at Boston Ballet’s 2007 Night of Stars.
Emily Mistretta joins Boston Ballet after two years with BBII. Mistretta has trained with Boston Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Inland Pacific Ballet Academy. She has performed extensively with the Company during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons as well as on tour in Ottawa, Canada and throughout Spain.
The new company dancers are:
Lasha Khozashvili of Tbilisi, Georgia joins Boston Ballet as a principal dancer. Khozashvili was previously dancing with the State Ballet of Georgia, where he was called by Ballet Dance Magazine “the most sophisticated male in the company.” Khozashvili’s dancing has been described the Los Angeles Times as “gorgeous” with “youth, charm and spontaneity gilding the choreography and making it seem inspired improvisation.”
Adiarys Almeida of Mantanzas, Cuba joins Boston Ballet as a soloist. She trained with the Cuban National Ballet School before dancing with the National Ballet of Cuba for two years, and later Cincinnati Ballet where she danced for four years. Most recently she danced with Corella Ballet as a principal. Almeida has won the gold and silver medals twice in the Havana International Ballet Competition and was a finalist in the 2006 USA International Ballet. She was described by The New York Times as “[making] technical feats look like the purest and most honest ballet dancing.”
Joseph Gatti of Warwick, New York joins Boston Ballet as a soloist. Joseph previously danced with Cincinnati Ballet for three years and then Corella Ballet for three years. He was a gold medalist in the 2007 World Ballet Competition, 2005 New York International Ballet Competition, and 2003 Youth America Grand Prix. Gatti trained at the Royal Ballet School as well as American Ballet Theatre. His dancing has been described by The New York Times as “astounding… with seamless, fluid finishes that made rare artistry of the gimmicks.”
Ekaterine Chubinidze of Tbilisi, Georgia joins Boston Ballet from the State Ballet of Georgia. She is a graduate of the V. Chabukiani Tbilisi State Choreographic School. Chubinidze was hailed by Voice of Dance for her “velocity and charm” on stage.
Vanessa Dirven of France joins Boston Ballet after training at the Royal Ballet School and the Danse de Cannes Rosella Hightower School of Ballet. Dirven has won many international dance competitions including the First Superior Prize, Carpeauz Prize, and the Caen City Prize, among others.
Keenan Kampa of Oak Hill, Virginia joins Boston Ballet as a recent graduate of the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia – an unprecedented honor for an American student. She previously trained at the Conservatory Ballet in Virginia. In 2007, Kampa was a semi-finalist at the Prix de Lausanne and won the gold medal at the National Youth Ballet Competition in 2006. She has been called by Dance Spirit Magazine a “quietly magnetic performer with intelligence and class.”
Yurika Kitano of Japan joins Boston Ballet after training with Boston Ballet School as a trainee, and with Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet through summer programs. Kitano won the 1st place and critics prize at the 2010 Expressions Dance Competition in Florence, Italy.
Claire Stallman of Saratoga, CA rejoins Boston Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet. Stallman previously danced with Boston Ballet from 2006-2008. Stallman has studied at San Francisco Ballet School, the School of American Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive.
Paulo Arrais from Goiania, Brazil joins Boston Ballet from Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. He has previously danced with the Norwegian National Ballet and trained at the Center Curtural Gustav Ritter in Brazil, the Paris Opera Ballet School, English National Ballet School, and the Royal Ballet School. Arrais was a finalist in the 2007 New York International Competition and the 2003 Youth America Grand Prix.
Mykola Kravets of Kiev, Ukraine joins Boston Ballet from Augsburg Ballet Theater. Kravets has also studied at Staatliche Ballettschule in Berlin and Stuttgart Ballet. Kravets has received the 2nd prize at the Tanzolymp International Dance Festival.
Duncan Lyle of Melbourne, Australia joins Boston Ballet from The Royal Ballet School where he has been training since 2007. Lyle has developed his repertoire performing with The Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet School, and The Russian Choreographic Academy.
Rodrigo Almarales of Havana, Cuba joins Boston Ballet after training at the Hamburg Ballet School, the National Ballet School of Canada, and the National Ballet School of Cuba. Almarales has won the bronze medal at the Korea International Ballet Competition and the Varna International Ballet Competition. Nissinen recruited Almarales after seeing him perform on the popular Italian TV show Amici which Nissinen was a panelist and Boston Ballet performed this past winter.
Dancers joining Boston Ballet II:
Samantha Benoit of Fort Lauderdale, Florida joins BBII after training at Fort Lauderdale Ballet Classique, American Ballet Theatre, and both Houston Ballet and Washington Ballet where she trained on full scholarship. She is a recent graduate of Indiana University.
Danyla Bezerra of Pindamonhangaba, Brazil joins BBII after training with Boston Ballet School, Miami City Ballet School, and Escola de Dança Teatro Guaira in Brazil. Bezerra has completed summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet School and the Banff Centre.
Rebekah Hostetter of San Francisco, California joins BBII from the San Francisco Ballet trainee program. Hostetter has trained at San Francisco Ballet School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, as well as summer programs including Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet Summer Session.
Maria Portillo of Madrid, Spain joins BBII after studying at the Carmina Ocaña Dance School and the Royal Conservatory of Dance in Madrid. Portillo has received both the first prize in the Concurso Nacoinal de Danza Clásica Torrelavega and second prize in the Concurso Nacional de Danza de Castellón.
Melanie Riffee of Vienna, Virginia joins BBII after studying at Boston Ballet School as a trainee for two years under the Pao Scholorship. She has also studied at Washington School of Ballet, Maryland Youth Ballet, as well as through summer programs with American Ballet Theatre and Orlando Ballet. She performed in the Youth American Gran Prix in 2006 and again in 2007 when she was a finalist.
Walter Angelini of Italy joins BBII after training at the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala Di Milano, the Royal Ballet School, and American Ballet Theatre where he studied on scholarship.
Trevor Felixbrod from New York City joins BBII. Felixbrod trained at Ballet Academy East in New York City and the School of American Ballet. He has attended summer programs at Boston Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Trevor has also trained in the apprentice program at the Royal Danish Ballet.
Matthew Poppe of Phoenix, Arizona joins BBII from the apprentice program at Ballet Arizona. Poppe studied with the Royal Academy of Dance before completing his pre-professional training at the School of American Ballet. Poppe has also attended summer programs including Boston Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Miami City Ballet.
2010-2011 Season Tickets
Subscriptions for the 2010-2011 season are on sale now. Individual tickets to The Nutcracker are available now and individual tickets to season ballets go on sale August 30. Subscriptions and all tickets will be available for sales online 24 hours a day at www.bostonballet.org or by phone at 617.695.6955 or in person at the box office at 19 Clarendon Street, Boston, Mon–Fri, 9am-5pm and on performance days on Sat and Sun, 11am – 4pm. Prices for season ballets start at $25. Tickets to The Nutcracker start at $35. Discounted group tickets (10 or more for season ballets and 20 or more for The Nutcracker) are available by calling Boston Ballet’s Group Sales at 617.456.6343. Contact the Boston Ballet Box Office at 617.695.6955 or visit www.bostonballet.org for details.
About Boston Ballet
Since 1963, Boston Ballet has been one of the leading dance companies in the world on stage, in the studio and in the community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen and Executive Director Barry Hughson, the Company maintains an internationally acclaimed repertoire and the largest ballet school in North America, Boston Ballet School.
Boston Ballet maintains a repertoire of classical, neo-classical and contemporary works, ranging from full-length story ballets to new works by some of today's finest choreographers. Boston Ballet's second company, Boston Ballet II, is comprised of pre-professional dancers who gain experience by performing with the Company and independently, presenting lecture-demonstrations and special programs to audiences throughout the Northeast.
Boston Ballet School, the official school of Boston Ballet, has a long-standing dedication to excellence and access and reaches more than 10,000 students ages 2-adult each year through Boston Ballet School classes, Summer Dance Workshop, Summer Dance Program, Citydance, Taking Steps, and Adaptive Dance. The wide array of dance programs are held at three studio locations in Boston, Newton, and Marblehead with additional programs throughout New England, as well as community centers and in Boston Public Schools.
Boston Ballet gratefully acknowledges the following institutional partners:
State Street Corporation, 2010 Presenting Sponsor, The Nutcracker
Massachusetts Cultural Council
National Endowment for the Arts
Boston Organ & Piano, Official Piano Supplier of Boston Ballet