Pennsylvania Ballet Loses More Than a Third of Its Dancers

Photo by Jim Lafferty

Angel Corella is making major moves at Pennsylvania Ballet: The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last night that of the company's 43 dancers, 12 did not have their contracts renewed for next season, and five have decided to leave.

It's no surprise that Corella is making some changes to the roster (this is the first season he's allowed to do so under union rules). He's moving the company away from its Balanchine roots to more contemporary rep and classical full-lengths. And his casting first-year apprentices as Kitri and Basilio in Don Quixote last month made it clear he was ready to shake things up.

But I don't think anyone outside the company expected the turnover to be quite this large.

Among the dancers let go were longtime principals Francis Veyette and Brooke Moore. Principal Lauren Fadeley (Veyette's wife) chose to leave to become a soloist at Miami City Ballet. Soloist Evelyn Kocak was also let go, and told the Philadelphia Inquirer she plans to pursue freelance work in New York City.

Taking the place of the former principals are current soloists Lillian DiPiazza, Mayara Pineiro and Oksana Maslova, who will be promoted next season. (Pineiro and Maslova were both Corella hires last season.) American Ballet Theatre corps member Sterling Baca will join as a principal, while his girlfriend Nayara Lopes of Dance Theatre of Harlem has been hired as part of the corps. (The pair was featured on our January 2016 "25 to Watch" cover.) American Sara Michelle Murawski will also join as a principal after dancing at the Slovak National Ballet and Dayesi Torriente from Ballet Nacional de Cuba will join as a soloist.

It can't be an easy time for any of the dancers there right now. A colleague forwarded me this blog post from Darius Barnes, a former New York City Ballet dancer who was among 11 corps members laid off during the recession in 2009. He definitely relates to the Pennsylvania Ballet dancers' predicament: He writes about the anger, confusion and embarrassment that comes with this kind of very public regime change, and the difficulty of not knowing where your career goes from here. Dancers have so few years to dance, and contracts are never easy to come by. Losing a dance job isn't just about losing your paycheck—it often means you'll have to move to an entirely new city, and say goodbye to daily contact with friends who feel as close as family.

But what I love about Barnes' post is how he reframes the situation: He reminds the dancers they have been freed from a situation that was no longer a fit for them artistically, a place where they were no longer appreciated. In his case, he went on to dance with Suzanne Farrell and DTH, then was a lead in Broadway's Memphis, which led to several other Broadway roles. There's always a new opportunity waiting for you out there—even if it might not be the one you initially hoped for.

 

Get more Dance Magazine.

Day in the Life

Most people may know Derek Dunn for his impeccable turns and alluring onstage charisma. But the Boston Ballet principal dancer is just as charming offstage, whether he's playing with his 3-year-old miniature labradoodle or working in the studio. Dance Magazine recently spent the day with Dunn as he prepared for his debut as Albrecht in the company's upcoming run of Giselle.

Dance Training
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group

You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.

Keep reading... Show less
The USC Kaufman graduating class with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gus Ruelas/USC

Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.

Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:

Keep reading... Show less
In Memoriam
Ross Parkes, right, teaching in Shanghai in 1983. Lan-Lan Wang is at left. Courtesy Lan-Lan Wang.

Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."

About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox