Miami City Ballet Principal Jovani Furlan to Join NYCB This Fall
Jovani Furlan in George Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy NYCB.
New York City Ballet announced on Facebook earlier this week that current Miami City Ballet principal Jovani Furlan will be joining the company as a soloist this fall. Furlan, a native of Joinville, Brazil, left Brazil's Bolshoi Theater School in 2011 to train at the MCB School; he joined the company as an apprentice in 2012 and has quickly made his way through the ranks.
Though it's highly unusual for NYCB to hire dancers from other companies (out of NYCB's 90 plus dancers, only two, Gonzalo Garcia and Ask La Cour, did not come straight from School of American Ballet), the company is in need of qualified male dancers to fill its upper ranks. Last fall, the company lost four principals: Joaquin de Luz retired, while Zachary Catazaro, Chase Finlay and Amar Ramasar were fired in the midst of a scandal surrounding the sharing of sexually explicit photos. NYCB also recently announced that Justin Peck will be stepping down as soloist at the end of the spring season to focus on choreographing and his new role as artistic advisor.
For Furlan, this move is a thrilling opportunity to dive deeper into George Balanchine's repertoire. "Growing up in Brazil and training at the Bolshoi I had very little awareness about Balanchine," he says, "but once I joined MCB School and started learning about it, I instantly fell in love with all of it." Furlan credits much of this passion to former MCB artistic director and NYCB star Edward Villella. "Once I started taking classes with the company, watching him teaching class and the steps with such style and attack was unreal," he says, adding, "We were extremely lucky and blessed to have Lourdes Lopez take over and keep the Balanchine legacy alive. She's always been so committed to the integrity of all of Mr. B's works and has so much to share."
As for why he's decided to leave MCB for NYCB, Furlan stresses the importance of jumping at new opportunities. "NYCB has an unparalleled repertoire in one of the most amazing cities in the world, and that's what it's about: the repertoire and the amount of performing I'll get to do," he says. "This career is so short and demanding; you never know how long you're going to last."
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.