Aran Bell in Swan Lake. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

ABT Announces Its 2019 Company Promotions

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!

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

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Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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