As Seasons Begin, Check Out the Latest Career Announcements and Updates

September 16, 2022

Get ready for a flux of career news as companies kick off their 2022–23 seasons. From promotions and new positions to farewells and award winners, here are the ballet world’s latest updates.

Virginia Johnson to Retire, Robert Garland to Succeed as DTH Artistic Director

Dance Theatre of Harlem announced that, after 12 years at the helm, artistic director Virginia Johnson will retire next June 30, 2023, following the conclusion of the 2022–23 season. Robert Garland, DTH’s current resident choreographer and school director, will succeed her on July 1, 2023. Tai Jimenez, a former principal dancer with DTH and Boston Ballet (the first Black ballerina to achieve this title at BB in 2006), will take over Garland’s duties as director of the DTH School.

Johnson was a founding member and principal dancer with DTH, performing with the company for nearly three decades. Afterwards, she served as Pointe’s founding editor in chief from 2000–10. In 2009, DTH founder Arthur Mitchell appointed Johnson to succeed him as artistic director and revive the company. After her retirement in June, Johnson will become artistic director emerita.

Updates From American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre led a double wave of company updates with the announcement of its fall 2022 apprentice program dancers on August 30. Elisabeth Beyer, Tillie Glatz, Yuma Matsuura and Aleisha Walker join ABT’s main company as apprentices following its fall season.

ABT also announced the appointment of former company soloist Yan Chen to the dual positions of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School pre-professional division principal teacher and ABT Studio Company rehearsal director, effective immediately. These full-time positions follow her former roles as Orlando Ballet ballet master, JKO summer intensive faculty member and ABT Studio Company guest rehearsal director.

Yan Chen, shown chest-up, poses for a headshot in a flowy light gray top with a floral pattern. Her dark hair is collected in a sleek low ponytail, and she wears elegant gold circular earrings as she smiles toward the camera, her left arm posed as if resting on her hip.
Yan Chen. Photo by Michael Cairns, Courtesy ABT.

Ballet Arizona’s Nayon Iovino Named Resident Choreographer

Ballet Arizona company member Nayon Iovino has been appointed resident choreographer. Iovino, originally from Brazil, joined BAZ in 2012 and has choreographed several works for the company since 2013. The company’s 2022–23 season kicks off with Iovino’s new work, Tierra de Ángeles, as part of its Contemporary Moves program September 22–25.

Nayon Iovino leaps onstage in an a la seconde sissone, his arms extended on the high diagonals. He wears a fitted white t-shirt, white socks and ballet flats, and black tights.
Nayon Iovino in George Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments.” Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy Ballet Arizona.

Colorado Ballet Promotions and Retirements

Colorado Ballet released a number of promotions for the upcoming season. Jessica Payne has been promoted to soloist; Bryce Lee, Ariel McCarty, Jeremy Studinski and Alexandra Wilson to demi-soloist; and Catherine Aoki, Sheridan Guerin and Catherine McGregor to corps de ballet.

In addition, the company announced that principals Dana Benton and Yosvani Ramos will take their final bows at the end of the 2022–23 season. Benton will retire after 22 years with CB, having spent the past nine as a principal; Ramos, whose professional career has spanned 26 years, joined as a principal in 2015.

Jessica Payne and Nicolas Pelletier pose dramatically in front of a light blue, pink, and purple backdrop. Pelletier, in black cropped tights and nude ballet flats, lunges on his right leg and holds Payne by her legs as she drapes across his back. Payne, in a black sports bra and shorts and nude pointe shoes, lays upside down across his back with her left leg bent and her arms reaching down to the floor.
Jessica Payne and Nicolas Pelletier. Photo by Rachel Neville, courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Farewells and a New Associate Artistic Director at Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Complexions Contemporary Ballet announced the departures of company artists Tim Stickney, Brandon Gray, Zion King and Emma Branson on August 5. Stickney, who joined in 2014, and Gray, who joined in 2017, were long-time members.

On September 2, the company also congratulated former ballet master Meg Paul on her new role as associate artistic director, which she began in August. Paul will continue her duties as director of the Complexions Academy alongside her new appointment.

Xander Parish Joins Norwegian National Ballet

British ballet luminary Xander Parish has joined the Norwegian National Ballet as a principal; this news comes after his decision to depart from the Mariinsky Ballet last March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a recent Instagram post, Parish thanks NNB artistic director Ingrid Lorentzen for her invitation to join the company and expresses excitement for his new home in Oslo. He made his company debut on September 3, appearing as Prince Albrecht in Giselle.

DaYoung Jung Returns to Oklahoma City Ballet as Rehearsal Director

On September 9, Oklahoma City Ballet announced that former principal dancer DaYoung Jung, who retired this past May, returns to the company this season as rehearsal director. Jung will begin her new role immediately.

Promotions and New School Leadership at Philadelphia Ballet

Philadelphia Ballet announced the addition of five new dancers to its roster, as well as several promotions. Austin Eyler, Alexandra Heier and Pau Pujol have been promoted to soloist; Isaac Hollis, Gabriela Mesa and Nick Patterson to demi-soloist; and Mayfield Meyers, Cory Ogdahl, Paloma Berjano Torrado and Emily Wilson to corps de ballet.

The company also welcomed former San Francisco Ballet principal Davit Karapetyan as its new school director. Karapetyan, whose professional career at SFB spanned over a decade, served as co-artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet Academy for the past five years. He began his new role with the School of Philadelphia Ballet on August 22.

Davit Karapetyan, shown chest-up, poses for a headshot in front of a dark gray background wearing a purple sweater. He crosses his arms and looks at the camera with a slight smile.
Davit Karapetyan. Photo by Alexander Reneff-Olson, courtesy The Philadelphia Ballet School.

The 2022 Princess Grace Dance and Choreography Awardees

The annual Princess Grace Awards, which recognize outstanding artists in dance, choreography, theater, film, animation and playwriting, revealed this year’s winners on August 4. The dance category awardees include New York City Ballet soloist Mira Nadon, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago artist Abdiel Figueroa Reyes and Gibney Company artist Jake Tribus; honoraria include Ashley Simpson of BalletX and Eleni Loving of The Juilliard School.

This year’s choreography awardees are Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Kameron N. Saunders, Bruce Wood Dance’s Omar Román de Jesús and A.I.M by Kyle Abraham’s Maleek Washington.

Educator Promotions at San Francisco Ballet School

San Francisco Ballet School announced the appointment of former SFB principal Pascal Molat to associate director of the trainee program. Molat joined the SFB School in 2016 as a ballet and trainee program assistant.

Jason Ambrose was also promoted to children’s division principal on the SFB School faculty this summer after spending two years as a full-time men’s teacher.

Sophie Martin Joins Staatsballet Karlsruhe

This month, former Scottish Ballet principal Sophie Martin joins Germany’s Staatsballet Karlsruhe, according to an announcement she made on Instagram on August 22. She joins the company as a soloist.

A collage of colorful performance shots. Clockwise from top left: Alexander Kotelenets and Paige Nyman- pc Amitava Sarkar. Paige Nyman- pc Sharen Bradford. Carl Coomer- pc Amitava Sarkar. David Schrenk- pc Amitava Sarkar. Alexandra Farber and Andre Silva - pc Amitava Sarkar. Nicole Von Enck- pc Sharen Bradford. Andre Silva- pc Amitava Sarkar.
Texas Ballet Theatre’s principal dancers, courtesy TBT.

Texas Ballet Theater Instills Rankings

On September 7, Texas Ballet Theater announced its implementation of company ranks, revealing seven company artists as principals: Carl Coomer, Alexandra Farber, Alexander Kotelenets, Paige Nyman, David Schrenk, Andre Silva and Nicole Von Enck. In the press release, acting artistic director Tim O’Keefe states: “Rankings are traditionally how a ballet company is organized. It’s wonderful that we have the talent within our company to recognize dancers for their individual artistic achievements, and for what they can share with the community.”