Boston Ballet 2015-16 Company Roster Includes 11 New Dancers

Boston, August 12, 2015, — Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen has announced the 2015-2016 season roster, featuring 11 new dancers and six promotions from within the Company. The Company will be comprised of 68 dancers—including 10 dancers in Boston Ballet II (BBII)—representing 20 nationalities. The full company has returned to its 19 Clarendon Street studios in preparation for the 2015-2016 season.
Ji Young Chae in Swan Lake (Photo by Rosalie O’Connor).

Ji Young Chae (South Korea) and Patrick Yocum (USA) have been promoted to soloist; Diana Albrecht (Paraguay), Irlan Silva (Brazil) and Junxiong Zhao (China) have been promoted to second soloist; and Albert Gordon (USA) has been promoted to the corps de ballet from Boston Ballet II.

Boston Ballet welcomes Maria Baranova (Finland) of Finnish National Ballet, Rachele Buriassi (Italy) of Stuttgart Ballet, and Federico Fresi (Italy) of Teatro alla Scala as soloists; and Jillian Barrell(USA) of Ballet Arizona and Drew Nelson of Royal Danish Ballet as dancers in the corps de ballet. New members of Boston Ballet II are Angela Bishop and Erin O’Dea of Boston Ballet School, Elenora Morris from National Ballet of Canada, Ethan Chudnow from San Francisco Ballet School, and Samuel Ainley and Aaron Hilton from School of American Ballet. Thirty-six percent of the main company are BBII alumni and 22% of the full roster are Boston Ballet School alumni.

“Boston Ballet maintains a diverse and high-caliber roster of dancers year after year. The versatility of the artists continues to inspire me and support our wide-range of repertoire,” says Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. “I am thrilled to announce the promotions of six exceptional individuals, and welcome new, talented artists to Boston Ballet and Boston Ballet II. We look forward to showcasing our dancers on the Opera House stage, starting in October.”

Peter Stark, who has been called “Ballet’s Pied Piper” by the Sarasota Herald Tribune, joins Boston Ballet as Associate Director of Boston Ballet II and Head of Men’s Program of Boston Ballet School. Stark began his performing career with New York City Ballet and Boston Ballet, followed by a successful tenure at The Washington Ballet. He is the founding artistic director of Next Generation Ballet (NGB) in Tampa, Florida, and most recently served as Chair of the Patel Conservatory’s Dance Department.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Peter Stark to the organization. His reputation as an exceptional master teacher precedes him and he has trained some of the finest male dancers in North America today,” Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen comments. “Peter is a great addition to the artistic staff of Boston Ballet.”

Company Promotions

Soloist Ji Young Chae of Seoul, South Korea, joined Boston Ballet in 2013. She trained at Seoul Arts High School and Korea National University of Arts. Chae was awarded the gold medal at the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, and first prize at the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. In 2011, she received the gold medal at the Boston International Ballet Competition. Chae recently represented Boston Ballet at the Eleventh International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto, Canada. Mikko Nissinen comments, “Ji Young has enjoyed a meteoric rise in her two seasons with Boston Ballet and she has made incredible progress.”

Soloist Patrick Yocum of Souderton, Pennsylvania, joined Boston Ballet in 2011. Yocum trained in the Graduate Program of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Trainee Program of Boston Ballet School as its Sydney Leonard Scholar. Yocum was invited to join Boston Ballet II in 2009. In 2011, he joined the corps de ballet. Mikko Nissinen explains, “Patrick has shown tremendous talent and consistency from day one and he has improved steadily. His hard work has paid off and he has matured as an artist.”

Second Soloist Diana Albrecht of Asunción, Paraguay, joined Boston Ballet in 2011. She began her studies at Academia Elizabeth Vinader, followed by Studio Nicole Dijkhuis and Centro de Danca Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Albrecht’s training continued at San Francisco Ballet School and The Washington School of Ballet on scholarship. Prior to joining Boston Ballet, Albrecht danced with Companhia Jovem de Ballet do Rio de Janeiro and The Washington Ballet. She is a recipient of the National Award of Dance. Albrecht was featured as one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine in 2008. Mikko Nissinen expresses, “Diana has excelled in a wide variety of roles and she has a lovely stage presence.”

Second Soloist Irlan Silva of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, joined Boston Ballet in 2011. He received his dance training at Centro de Dance Rio under the direction of Mariza Estrela, and also worked with Carlos dos Santos. Silva previously danced with American Ballet Theatre II and as a guest artist in Rio de Janiero. He won the Best Contemporary Dancer Award at Youth America Grand Prix in 2008. In 2007 he won First Place in the Senior Division of Youth America Grand Prix Brazil. Silva is the subject of Only When I Dance, a documentary following his journey from a favela of Rio de Janiero to an international ballet school. Mikko Nissinen explains, “Irlan is a very versatile dancer and I am excited to see how far he’s going to go. There is no shortage of talent in Irlan.”

Second Soloist Junxiong Zhao of Chongqing, China, joined Boston Ballet in 2014. He began his training with Shanghai East Ballet School in Shanghai, China. In 2010, he trained with The Washington Ballet School under Kee Juan Han and Carlos Varcarcel. He then joined The Washington Ballet studio company and in 2012, joined Ballet Arizona. Among numerous national and international awards, Zhao has won the following: Senior Silver Medal at World Ballet Competition 2012; Senior Gold Medal at the 2012 Cape Town International Ballet Competition; Senior Bronze Medal at the 2011 Youth American Grand Prix, New York; and Junior Bronze Medal at the 2009 Helsinki International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland. Zhao recently represented Boston Ballet at the Eleventh International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto, Canada. Mikko Nissinen states, “With a strong classical foundation and very good sense of contemporary dance, Junxiong has made a terrific start with Boston Ballet. I’m looking forward to seeing him in a wide range of roles in the future.”

Corps de Ballet dancer Albert Gordon of McLean, Virginia, joins Boston Ballet in 2015. He began dancing at The Washington School of Ballet at the age of eleven, studying exclusively with Director Kee Juan Han. Gordon joined Boston Ballet II in 2013. He is the recipient of a multitude of recognitions and awards including the following: finalist in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) in 2012 and 2013; Gold Medal, junior category, at The Boston International Ballet Competition; and third place, senior category, at the Seoul International Dance Competition. Gordon is a recipient of the prestigious 2012 Princess Grace Scholarship Award. Mikko Nissinen declares, “It is great to see a young male dancer with so much classical talent and potential. He is a dancer to watch out for.”

New Company Dancers

Maria Baranova of Helsinki, Finland, joins Boston Ballet as a soloist. As a student of the Helsinki Dance Institute, she participated in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne where renowned artistic director John Neumeier invited her to join the Hamburg Ballet School on scholarship. At age sixteen, Baranova won the Helsinki International Ballet Competition (2009) and joined the Hamburg Ballet. In 2011, she won the International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize. Later that same year, she joined the Finnish National Ballet as a Principal Dancer. Baranova has danced leading roles in many classical ballets including Nikiya in La Bayadere, Swanilda in Coppelia, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Her neo classical and contemporary repertoire is large, and she has worked with many of today’s leading forces in dance, including choreographers Jorma Elo, Wayne Eagling, William Forsythe, and Ivan Liska. “Maria is the very first Finn I’ve hired during my tenure at Boston Ballet! She is a dancer with a strong will and determination and all of the capability that comes with that,” exclaims Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director. “I’m looking forward to integrating her into the Company.

Rachele Buriassi of Sarzana, Italy, joins Boston Ballet as a soloist. She began her dance training at the age of four at the Scuola di Danza 4 Movimento, later studying with the Ecole de Danse de Cannes/France Rosella Hightower and the John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart. Buriassi joined Stuttgart Ballet’s corps de ballet in 2006, was promoted to Demi Soloist in 2010 and Soloist in 2012. She has toured extensively appearing at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, and the Esplanade Theater in Singapore, among others. Her repertoire includes Kitri in Guerra’s Don Quixote, Odette/Odile in Cranko’s Swan Lake, as well as lead roles in La Sylphide (Schaufuss), Theme and Variations, Allegro Brillante, The Four Temperaments (Balanchine), The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude (Forsythe) Slice to Sharp (Elo), and Yantra (McGregor). Buriassi has created many roles in works by Marco Goecke, Christian Spuck, Kevin O’Day, Edward Clug, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, to name a few. “A refined artist, Rachele brings lots of experience from her time with Stuttgart Ballet,” Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen explains. “I’m sure our audiences will welcome her radiant presence.”

Federico Fresi of Turin, Italy, joins Boston Ballet as a soloist. Fresi trained at the School of Maria de Avila in Spain under the direction of Lola de Avila. He has received numerous awards, such as the International Ballet Competition in Zaragoza (2003) and the Audience Prize at the International Competition of Dance “Roseta Mauri” (2004). In 2005, Fresi joined English National Ballet as a soloist, followed by Compañia de Ballet Clasico Arte 369 in Madrid in 2006. He was promoted to Principal Dancer the following year, dancing the role of Albrecht and Peasant pas de deux in Giselle, the Prince inThe Nutcracker, and Basil in Don Quixiote. Fresi joined the corps de ballet of the Teatro alla Scala in 2008 and was promoted to Soloist in 2014. His repertoire includes The Prince in The Nutcracker, Basil in Don Quixote, The Golden Idol in La Bayadère (Natalia Makarova), Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (George Balanchine), Albrecht in Giselle (Yvette Chauviré), the Gypsy Chief in Don Quixote(Rudolf Nureyev), as well as leading roles in The Prodigal Son, Rubies, Emeralds (George Balanchine), Herman Shmerman (William Forsythe), and Swan Lake (Rudolf Nureyev), among others. Mikko Nissinen states, “Federico is an Italian virtuoso technician and powerhouse sure to create a buzz in Boston.”

Jillian Barrell of Wilmington, Delaware, joins Boston Ballet as a corps de ballet member. She trained at Delaware Dance Company and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, as well as privately with Sherry Hiott. Barrell joined Ballet Arizona in 2007 where she danced the title roles in Ib Andersen’s Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and has also performed leading roles in Alexei Ratmansky’s Le Carnaval Des Animaux and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. Barrell’s Balanchine repertoire includes principal roles in Theme and Variations, Rubies,Serenade, Apollo, Monumentum pro Gesualdo, and The Four Temperaments, among others. Mikko Nissinen explains, “She is a talented American who comes with integrity and experience in the field. I’m looking forward to getting to know her work.”

Drew Nelson of Omaha, Nebraska, joins Boston Ballet as a corps de ballet member. He trained at the School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. In 2009, Nelson moved to Florida to train with Peter Stark, Olivier Munoz, and Ivonne Lemus. He and Boston Ballet dancer Hannah Bettes were awarded the silver medal for pas de deux at the 2011 Youth America Grand Prix finals. He was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in London, and upon graduation in 2014, Nelson joined the Royal Danish Ballet. Nelson has performed in many ballets, including Manon, Napoli, La Bayadere, I Føling, Nikolaj Hübbe’s Twelfth Night, Lady of the Camellias, La Sylphide, Etudes, A Folktale, Cacti, Swan Lake, and Liam Scarlett’s Viscera.  Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen states, “Drew is a tall and dynamic young talent, returning to the U.S., via London and Copenhagen.”

Dancers Joining Boston Ballet II

“These talented young dancers are full of potential and come to us from professional schools around the country, including two from our own Boston Ballet School,” explains Mikko Nissinen, Boston Ballet Artistic Director.

Angela Bishop of Hingham, Massachusetts, trained with Boston Ballet School for seven years, and became a Trainee in 2014. Bishop is a recipient of the Mikko Nissinen Artistic Scholarship and was selected to represent Boston Ballet as an exchange student with Canada’s National Ballet School in 2014. Bishop’s additional training includes summer programs with Boston Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell.

Elenora Morris of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began her training with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. Morris attended summer intensives at School of American Ballet and on full scholarship at San Francisco Ballet School and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Morris joined National Ballet of Canada as an Apprentice in 2013. During the summers of 2013 and 2014, she was invited to attend the Professional Dance Program at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada.

Erin O’Dea of San Clemente, California, began training at age 10 in her hometown. She participated in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s summer intensive in 2009 and Boston Ballet School’s Summer Dance Program in 2010, 2011 and 2012. O’Dea joined Boston Ballet School in 2011, and became a Trainee from 2013-2015. O’Dea is the recipient of the Pao Scholarship. In 2013, she represented Boston Ballet as an exchange student at Canada’s National Ballet School.

Samuel Ainley of Sacramento, California, began training at The School of Sacramento Ballet at the age of nine under the direction of Melanie Haller, followed by Crockett-Deane Ballet under the direction of Barbara Crockett. Ainley joined School of American Ballet in 2013 with mentorship of Jock Soto. He participated in the following summer intensives on full scholarship: Boston Ballet School, Pacific Northwest Ballet, School of American Ballet, Ballet Austin, and Sacramento Ballet.

Ethan Chudnow of Napa, California, began training at the Royal Academy of Ballet under Connie Vaughan, ARAD, followed by the Napa Regional Dance Company under Wanda McGill. In 2009, Chudnow was invited to join San Francisco Ballet School under Jeffrey Lyons and Patrick Armand on full scholarship, including the David Palmer Scholarship. He has attended summer intensives at the Royal Academy of Dance at Dancepointe Singapore, American Ballet Theater Orange County, School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, and Houston Ballet Academy, with full scholarships.

Aaron Hilton of Washington, District of Columbia, trained at The Washington School of Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet School, and School of American Ballet from 2013-2015 on scholarship. He received the Mary Day Scholarship from the Laurel Fund for the Performing Arts. Hilton was named a 2015 United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Hilton is a graduate of the Professional Children’s School, New York.

Since 1963, Boston Ballet’s internationally acclaimed performances of classical, neo-classical, and contemporary ballets, combined with a dedication to world class dance education and community initiative programs, have made the institution a leader in its field, with a 52 year history of promoting excellence and access to dance.

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