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NYCB's Up-and-Coming Women

Following the retirements of the irreplaceable Jenifer Ringer and Janie Taylor, Wendy Perron called out five other extraordinary principal women who continue to electrify New York City Ballet performances. But that dynamism characterizes many of the company's greenest dancers, too. During the past two or three seasons—thanks to the sheer amount of dancing NYCB does—audiences have begun to get to know some of these younger talents, particularly the women.

 

Emily Kikta, a 2013 25 to Watch, is one of those dancers who's impossible to miss, even if she's part of a large corps de ballet—and she seems to spend less and less time in corps parts these days. A striking 5' 10", Kikta boasts razor-sharp technique that slices effortlessly through contemporary and classical choreography alike. She proved a noble leader of Christopher Wheeldon's DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse ensemble this season, and a beguiling Coffee in The Nutcracker.

 


Emily Kikta in Balanchine's Brahms–Schoenberg Quartet. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.

 

Meaghan Dutton-O'Hara, another leggy Amazonian, dances with an unusual combination of sweetness and glamour. I first noticed her sweeter side, when she gave a charmingly bubbly performance in Balanchine's Who Cares? at the School of American Ballet workshop a couple of years ago. Since joining the company, however, Dutton-O'Hara has grown into herself—and her gorgeous limbs.

 


Meaghan Dutton-O'Hara in Balanchine's Jeu de Cartes. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.

 

Blonde, petite, and dimpled, Claire Von Enck runs a risk of being pigeonholed as "the cute one." Yet her dancing shows an expansiveness and sweep that defies the stereotype. Though perfectly at home as one of the sprightly soloists in Balanchine's Scherzo à la Russe, which she danced soon after becoming an apprentice with the company, Von Enck also stood out as an especially elegant nymph in Sleeping Beauty's vision scene last year.

 


Claire Von Enck and Daniel Applebaum in Balanchine's Who Cares?. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.

 

Indiana Woodward, one of our 2014 25 to Watch, has legs and feet most dancers would kill for—but that's not why you watch her. (Well, not entirely.) Woodward seemed to enter NYCB fully formed, showing a remarkable maturity from the earliest days of her apprenticeship. Last spring's performance of Wheeldon's Soirée Musicale—essentially a coming-out party for a whole group of the company's promising dancers—was the perfect showcase for her wit and refinement.

 


Indiana Woodward in Wheeldon's Soirée Musicale. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.

 

Though Unity Phelan only became a full company member last November, her strong, assured technique and high-wattage presence have already endeared her to NYCB diehards. Initially I thought of her as a classical animal, most comfortable in tutu-and-pink-tights roles that showcased her sparkling petit allegro. But her take-no-prisoners performance in Mauro Bigonzetti's Vespro this spring sent audience members scurrying for their programs in search of her name.

 


Unity Phelan in Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Suite No 3. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.

 

Catch these remarkable women during NYCB's Kennedy Center performances in just a couple of weeks, and back at their Lincoln Center home for the company's spring season at the end of April.

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