Roster Round-Up: Career Moves You May Have Missed in April
April is known for bringing all kinds of change—flowers bloom, temperatures rise and, in the ballet world, careers shift. This month, our news roundup includes promotions and new dancers at international companies, new leadership appointments, and a slew of retirement performances. Check out the latest as we settle into spring.
Big Promotions at The Royal Danish Ballet
On April 1, Royal Danish Ballet artistic director Nikolaj Hübbe announced the promotions of soloists Alexander Bozinoff and Emma Riis-Kofoed to principal dancer during the company’s performance of George Balanchine’s Jewels. Bozinoff, a Canadian, joined RDB as a corps de ballet member in 2011; Riis-Kofoed, a graduate of the Royal Danish Ballet School, joined the company in 2017.
New Dancers at Staatsballett Berlin
This month, three dancers left the Bolshoi Ballet to join Staatsballett Berlin, prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine: David Motta Soares joins as a principal, Bruna Fernanda Cantanhede Gaglianone as demi-soloist and Erick Swolkin as a corps de ballet member. The company also accepted Ukrainian dancer Maria Valter as a fellow in its mentorship program, typically reserved for Berlin State Ballet School alumni.
Brendan Saye Joins Vienna State Ballet
The National Ballet of Canada has announced that Brendan Saye is leaving the company to join Vienna State Ballet as a principal at the end of the 2021–22 season. Saye has danced with NBoC since 2008 and was promoted to principal in 2019.
David Hallberg Returns to the Stage
Australian Ballet artistic director David Hallberg will return to the stage in the company’s upcoming performances of Kunstkamer, a collaborative world premiere created by contemporary choreographers Paul Lightfoot, Sol León, Marco Goecke and Crystal Pite. Hallberg will make his appearances in select performances during the company’s Sydney season (April 29–May 14) and Melbourne season (June 3–11).
Alejandro Cerrudo Named Artistic Director of Charlotte Ballet
Acclaimed choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo has been appointed artistic director of Charlotte Ballet, effective May 1. Cerrudo, who has most recently served as resident choreographer at Pacific Northwest Ballet, assumes the position after an extensive search following former artistic director Hope Muir’s departure for the National Ballet of Canada in January 2022.
Big Farewells at San Francisco Ballet
San Francisco Ballet principal Ulrik Birkkjaer gave his farewell performance on April 16. Birkkjaer, who previously danced at the Royal Danish Ballet before joining SFB five years ago, plans to focus on his role as artistic director of Denmark’s København Danser dance festival.
Principals Julian MacKay and Benjamin Freemantle, soloist Madison Keesler and corps de ballet member Megan Amanda Ehrlich also announced their departures from the company via social media. In his post, MacKay noted that his contract was not renewed by incoming artistic director Tamara Rojo, whom he’s never worked with before. Freemantle and Keesler will both be moving to New York City to pursue acting, freelance dancing and print modeling.
On April 24, SFB honored outgoing artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson with a special performance. The program, attended by current and former SFB dancers and other ballet luminaries, celebrated Tomasson’s 37-year tenure with selections from the more than 50 of his ballets.
Rainer Krenstetter Says Goodbye at Miami City Ballet
On April 24, Miami City Ballet principal Rainer Krenstetter took his final bow with the company after performing in George Balanchine’s Jewels. A native of Vienna, Austria, Krenstetter danced with the Vienna State Ballet and then Staatsballett Berlin, where he rose to principal dancer, before joining MCB in 2014. In 2020 he became the artistic director of Unblanche in Tokyo, and he recently released a book with photographer Jason Ashwood, Not Without Tears: A Life Lived Onstage.
Victoria Hulland Gives Final Performance at Sarasota Ballet
Sarasota Ballet principal Victoria Hulland has announced her plan to retire at the end of the 2021–22 season, following 15 years with the company, 13 as a principal. Hulland will give her farewell performances in Sarasota Ballet’s Serendipitous Movement program April 29–30.
Two Farewells at Grand Rapids Ballet
Grand Rapids Ballet announced the departures of longtime company members Steven Houser and Ednis Gomez this month. Gomez will say goodbye after eight years with the company. Houser, who has been with GRB for 11 years, is retiring. They will give their final performances in the company’s production of Christopher Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream April 22–24 and April 29–May 1.