Your April Ballet Roster Roundup: Dancers and Directors on the Move

April 4, 2023

The past few weeks have brought another exciting round of career news—check out the latest farewells, appointments, promotions, and more in this month’s ballet roster roundup.

Promotions and Appointments

The Paris Opéra Ballet celebrates the promotions of its three newest étoiles, Hannah O’Neill, Marc Moreau, and Guillaume Diop. Diop, who was recently named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch,” makes history as the POB’s first Black étoile. He was promoted onstage on March 11 after dancing the role of Albrecht in the company’s tour of Giselle in Seoul, South Korea. O’Neill and Moreau were promoted on the Opera Garnier stage following their performances in George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial on March 2.

Onstage, a female and a male dancer hold hands and raise their arms in joy as they smile toward the audience, wearing glittering gold costumes. Corps de ballet members smile and clap behind them.
Paris Opéra Ballet étoiles Hannah O’Neill and Marc Moreau. Photo by Agathe Poupeney, courtesy POB.

On April 1, New York City Ballet artistic director Jonathan Stafford and associate artistic director Wendy Whelan announced the promotions of Olivia MacKinnon, Alexa Maxwell, and KJ Takahashi to soloist.

Following the company’s premiere of David Dawson’s Anima Animus on March 3, National Ballet of Canada artistic director Hope Muir promoted former first soloist Spencer Hack to principal onstage.

On March 15, Muir also announced the appointment of Ethan Colangelo as an NBoC choreographic associate, effective July 2023.

A side-by-side collage of three photos show two female dancers and one male dancer performing onstage.
From left: Alexa Maxwell in George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht Ballet, KJ Takahashi in Justin Peck’s Pulcinella Variations and Olivia MacKinnon in Peter Martins’ The Sleeping Beauty. Photos by Erin Baiano and Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy New York City Ballet.

Boston Ballet artistic director has promoted nine company dancers for the 2023–24 season. Chisako Oga will be the company’s newest principal; Sun Woo Lee has been promoted to soloist; Tyson Clark, Louise Hautefeuille, Sage Humphries, Sangmin Lee, and Daniel Rubin to second soloist; and Brooke Wilson and Sydney Williams to company artist.

Ballet San Antonio announced a slew of promotions: Michael Agudelo, Sofie Bertolini, and Brenna Mulligan have been promoted to principal; Elaine Blank, Aidan Carrasquel, Julia Davies, and Vianca Palacios to soloist; and Logan Acker, Haley Blackwelder, Ashley Onks, Mikaela Stewart, and Emma Wheeler to corps de ballet.

American Ballet Theatre artistic director Susan Jaffe officially named former company principal Stella Abrera artistic director of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. The appointment came seven months into Abrera’s position as the school’s interim artistic director, which she began last August.

In front of a white backdrop, a pas de trois of dancers perform a neoclassical ballet together in modern black and white costumes. A woman penches on pointe, supported by two men in deep lunges.
From left: Spencer Hack, Genevieve Penn Nabity and Ben Rudisin in David Dawson’s Anima Animus. Photo by Karolina Kuras, courtesy The National Ballet of Canada.

Kinsun Chan has been named director of the Semperoper Ballet, effective at the beginning of the company’s 2024–25 season. Chan, a former Zurich Ballet soloist who currently directs the Theater St. Gallen dance company, succeeds Aaron S. Watkin, who begins his position as English National Ballet artistic director in August 2023. For the 2023–24 season, SB principal and ballet master Marcelo Gomes will act as interim artistic director, and current company manager Adi Luick will act as ballet operations director. Chan’s contract will extend for four seasons.

Former Royal Ballet principal Dame Darcey Bussell, DBE,  is the new chair of the UK’s Theatre Royal Plymouth board of trustees. The board’s first female chair, Dame Bussell succeeds Nick Buckland, OBE, who retires from the board after 13 years.

The Sarasota Ballet board of trustees voted unanimously to extend director Iain Webb’s contract another 10 years.

Ballet Memphis School and Youth Ballet Memphis director Janet Parke will become senior artistic associate at the end of the current school term. Virginia and Brandon Ramey will assume Parke’s position as co-directors.

Farewells and New Arrivals

Longtime Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Lesley Rausch will retire at the end of the 2022–23 season. The company will celebrate her 22-year career at its Season Encore Performance on June 11, at Seattle’s McCaw Hall.

Lit by a spotlight on a dark stage lined by a corps de ballet of swans, a ballerina performing the role of Odette in "Swan Lake" leans back in a supported arabesque, held gently by her partner, who lunges toward her in a tendu a la seconde. He wears a dark blue velvet tunic and tights.
Lesley Rausch with Batkhurel Bold in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake. Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Longtime Dance Theatre of Harlem artist Christopher Charles McDaniel has announced that he will be leaving the company at the end of the season. McDaniel, a DTH School alum, danced with the company from 2008-2010 and returned in 2017.

Houston Ballet soloist Mackenzie Richter has announced that they will be joining Ballett Zürich next season. Richter will give their last performances with HB in Swan Lake this June.

Birmingham Royal Ballet principal Brandon Lawrence will also join Ballett Zürich for its upcoming season. In his final performances with BRB, he will appear as the Zebra in Sir David Bintley’s ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, in the title role in Balanchine’s Apollo, and in Juliano Nunes’ Interlinked in the company’s June program.

A ballerina in a lilac-colored pancake tutu smiles radiantly as she poses in arabesque onstage, her arms lifted gently in a "V" shape. Behind her, the scene is set for the Prologue of "The Sleeping Beauty."
Mackenzie Richter as The Lilac Fairy in Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Houston Ballet.

After 25 years with The National Ballet of Canada, first soloist Tanya Howard has retired. The company honored her onstage after her performance of the role of Stepsister in James Kudelka’s Cinderella on March 12.

Nashville Ballet company dancer and resident choreographer Mollie Sansone will retire from the stage this month. Going forward, Sansone will continue her work as the company’s resident choreographer.

NB company dancer Julia Eisen has also announced her retirement at the end of the 2022–23 season. Starting in August, she will join Nashville’s Harpeth Hall School as its dance program director.

Longtime Louisville Ballet artists Sanjay Saverimuttu, Kateryna Sellers and Brandon Ragland will take their final bows this month.

In front of a dark blue-gray marbled backdrop, a female dancer in a black leotard and nude pointe shoes jumps in a contemporary over-crossed passé position, her arms crossed at the elbows in front of each other. She looks off to the right serenely, her dark hair flying around her.
Tanya Howard. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic, courtesy NBoC.

Ballet Idaho will bid farewell to principals Jessica Sulikowski and Elizabeth Barreto after their final performances with the company in Swan Lake this May.

Johanna Sigurdardottir joins Boston Ballet as a company artist this spring.

Ballet Arizona has added Hannah Christian to its company dancer roster.

Queensland Ballet welcomes 2022 Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artist Jessica Stratton-Smith as a company artist.

Awards and Recognitions

On a bright day, a male dancer in dark street clothes jumps in a contemporary sous-sus position in front of a modern white bridge.
Stefanos Dimoulas. Photo by Mickey West, courtesy Dimoulas.

American Ballet Theatre principal, New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur Misty Copeland has been named the 2023 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient. Copeland will accept the award, which provides a cash prize and is presented yearly to “an artist of exceptional vision and achievement,” at the festival’s Season Opening Gala on June 24.

Stuttgart Ballet soloist Mackenzie Brown and Royal Ballet artist Daichi Ikarashi have won the 2023 Erik Bruhn Prize; Stuttgart Ballet artist in residence Roman Novitzky won the Choreographic Prize for his contemporary duet, A Dialog.

Freelance ballet and contemporary dancer, choreographer, and entrepreneur Stefanos Dimoulas has become the first Greek dancer to be recognized in Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” in the Art & Culture sector, for his founding of the nonprofit artistic mentorship program Culture Select.

On March 27, The Royal Ballet artistic director Kevin O’Hare and vice president Lady Sarah Chatto presented principal Marianela Núñez with a silver medal to celebrate 25 years with the company. Núñez accepted the medal onstage following the company’s performance of Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella.