Like most years, American Ballet Theatre closes its spring Met season this weekend with a sweet surprise: company promotions. Artistic director Kevin McKenzie just announced that two members of the corps de ballet—Aran Bell and Joo Won Ahn—are being promoted to soloist, effective September 1.
Ever since we saw a young Aran Bell in the 2011 film First Position, we've known he was destined for something big. The Maryland-born dancer joined ABT's Studio Company in 2014, became an apprentice in 2016 and a member of the corps in 2017. This season alone he made two major princely debuts: Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty and Siegfried in Swan Lake. And last year marked his first turn as Romeo. His repertoire also includes Lankendem in Le Corsaire, St. John in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre and roles in Twyla Tharp's Deuce Coupe and In The Upper Room, Alexei Ratmansky's Songs of Bukovina and The Seasons, and much more.
Joo Won Ahn in Le Corsaire. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT
Originally from Korea, Ahn joined the ABT Studio Company in 2013 after winning a gold medal at Youth America Grand Prix, and he was quickly shepherded through an apprenticeship and into the corps in 2014. He's already built up a pretty thorough classical repertoire including Solor in La Bayadère, Ali and Lankendem in Le Corsaire and Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty. He's also had the chance to hone his contemporary skills in Wayne McGregor's AFTERITE, Tharp's In the Upper Room and a handful of works by Ratmansky.
ABT apprentices Jacob Clerico, Jarod Curley, Michael de la Nuez, Léa Fleytoux, Abbey Marrison and Ingrid Thoms have all been promoted to the corps. And Studio Company dancers Leah Baylin, Kanon Kimura, Melvin Lawovi, Joseph Markey, Duncan McIlwaine and Chloe Misseldine will become apprentices.
Congratulations to all!