City Ballet promotes dancers amid veteran departures

The New York City Ballet announced Thursday that it is promoting two dancers to lead roles and one to soloist, raising young talent as s...


The New York City Ballet announced Thursday that it is promoting two dancers to lead roles and one to soloist, raising young talent as six of its longtime performers are set to leave and the company looks to make a strong comeback after the pandemic’s long halt.

Soloists Unity Phelan and Indiana Woodward will take over as principal, and corps de ballet member Roman Mejia will be upgraded to soloist, the company said in a statement. The promotions come at a time when City Ballet has been back on stage for just over two weeks, performing to vaccinated, masked and often boiling crowds.

On the opening night of the long-awaited new season, Woodward, 27, returned to the stage, starring in the One Night Only performance of George Balanchine’s “Symphony in C”. Phelan, 26, appeared in Alexei Ratmansky’s vibrant and alive “Russian seasons” the following night.

Woodward was born in Paris and then moved to California, where she trained with Yuri Grigoriev, who danced with the Stanislavsky Ballet in Moscow. In 2018, she danced her “dream role” as the lead ballerina in “Romeo and Juliet”; Writing in the New York Times, Gia Kourlas praised her footwork and turns, saying they “sparkles with fluid musicality. “

Phelan trained at the Princeton Ballet School in New Jersey, enrolling as a full-time student at the School of American Ballet, City Ballet’s affiliate school, in 2009; she took on the role of soloist four years ago. In 2016, before Phelan was promoted to soloist, Alastair Macaulay, then dance critic for The Times, wrote that she was “effortlessly poetic” in the “episodes” of Balanchine.

On Wednesday evening, Phelan made her debut in Balanchine’s “Western Symphony”, dancing alongside Mejia in the fourth movement. At the end of the performance, Phelan said in an interview, Stafford and Whelan asked him and Mejia to stay. Stafford told them he planned to share the news with them the next day, but their performance made him decide not to wait.

“I feel like I’m floating,” Phelan said Thursday. “I don’t even feel like my feet are on the ground.”

Mejia, 21, was born in Fort Worth, where he began his ballet training at the age of 3. He joined the corps in 2017, debuting in The “Lineage” of Edwaard Liang and Ratmansky’s “voice”.

The young dancers will help fill the void left by a group of departing seasoned directors. Six is ​​an unusually high number of retirements for a year. Three of the retired dancers – Maria Kowroski, Gonzalo Garcia and Ask the Court – were planning to leave during the 2020-21 season, but since it was canceled, they decided to stay for a farewell season. .

Earlier in the pandemic, Lauren Lovette decided she wanted to continue dancing outside the domain of the company; Abi Stafford chose to retire after 21 years in the company; and Amar Ramasar, who was temporarily sacked and then reinstated after a nude photo-sharing scandal, will leave in the spring.

The pandemic has also made Phelan wonder if her time as a ballerina is coming to an end; she has a bachelor’s degree in economics and was looking for jobs in finance. But after his return to the stage this fall, all doubts have disappeared.

“I realized this was exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: City Ballet promotes dancers amid veteran departures
City Ballet promotes dancers amid veteran departures
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