Fil-Am Stella Abrera and Misty Copeland have been promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, effective August 1, 2015. They are a pair of firsts with Abrera as the 1st Filipino American female principal dancer, and Copeland as the 1st African American female principal dancer in the company’s 75-year history.
Stella Abrera of South Pasadena, California, began her studies with Philip and Charles Fuller and Cynthia Young at Le Studio in Pasadena and with Lorna Diamond and Patricia Hoffman at the West Coast Ballet Theatre in San Diego. She also studied the Royal Academy of Dancing method at the Halliday Dance Centre in Sydney, Australia. Abrera joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 1996 and was appointed a Soloist in 2001. Her repertoire with ABT includes Calliope in Apollo, Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, the Fairy Godmother in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Mercedes and the Driad Queen in Don Quixote, Helena in The Dream, Giselle, Myrta and the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Manon in Lady of the Camellias, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, His Friend’s Wife in The Moor’s Pavane, Clara, the Princess in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Emilia in Othello, the Older Sister in Pillar of Fire, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, the Lilac Fairy and Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois in Swan Lake, leading roles in Airs, Bach Partita, Baker’s Dozen, Ballet Imperial, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Fancy Free, In the Upper Room, The Leaves Are Fading, Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, Les Sylphides, Symphonic Variations, Symphonie Concertante, Symphony #9, Symphony in C, Thirteen Diversions, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison, Without Words. Abrera created the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Violente (Temperament) in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty and leading roles in Pretty Good Year and Seven Sonatas. Abrera received the Gold Medal at the Royal Academy of Dancing’s Adeline Genée Awards in London in 1995. She has performed as a guest artist across the United States and Europe, as well as with The Australian Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and Ballet Philippines.
Misty Copeland was born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California. She began her ballet studies at the age of 13 at the San Pedro City Ballet and won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She continued her studies at the Lauridsen Ballet Center. Copeland studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Copeland joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000 and joined the main Company as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001. She was appointed a Soloist in August 2007. Her roles with the Company include Gamzatti in La Bayadère, Milkmaid in The Bright Stream, the Fairy Autumn in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Swanilda in Coppélia, Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Mercedes and the Driad Queen in Don Quixote, Duo Concertant, the title role in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, Flower Girl in Gaîté Parisienne, Zulma and the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, Clara, the Princess in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Bianca in Othello, the Cowgirl in Rodeo, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, Sinatra Suite, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, leading roles in Bach Partita, Birthday Offering andThirteen Diversions and roles in Airs, Baker’s Dozen, Ballo della Regina, Black Tuesday, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Brief Fling, Company B, Gong, In the Upper Room, Les Sylphides,Raymonda Divertissements, Sechs Tänze, Sinfonietta and workwithinwork. Copeland created the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Fleur de farine in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty and leading roles in C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Dumbarton, Glow – Stop, One of Three and With a Chance of Rain. Copeland received the 2008 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts and was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She is the recipient of a 2014 Dance Magazine Award and appeared on the cover of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015. She is the author of the best-selling memoir, Life in Motion and the children’s book Firebird.
Skylar Brandt, Thomas Forster, Arron Scott and Cassandra Trenary have been promoted to Soloist. In addition, Maria Kochetkova, a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet and Alban Lendorf, a principal dancer with Royal Danish Ballet will join the Company as Principal Dancers and Jeffrey Cirio, a principal dancer with Boston Ballet, will join ABT as a Soloist, it was announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.
Skylar Brandt was born in Purchase, New York and began her training at the age of six at Scarsdale Ballet Studio. She also studied with Valentina Kozlova, Fabrice Herrault and Susan Jaffe and attended the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre from 2005-2009. Brandt spent five summers at ABT’s New York Summer Intensive, was a National Training Scholar from 2006-2009. Brandt joined the ABT Studio Company in 2009, became an apprentice with the main Company in November 2010 and joined the corps de ballet in June 2011. Her roles with ABT include a Shade in La Bayadère, the Fairy Spring in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, an Odalisque in Le Corsaire, a Flower Girl in Don Quixote, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, the Chinese Dance and one of the Nutcracker’s Sisters in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Younger Sister in Pillar of Fire, the Diamond Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois in Swan Lake and roles in Bach Partita, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Gong, In the Upper Room, Piano Concerto #1, Raymonda Divertissements and Sinfonietta. She created the Fairy Canri qui chante (Canary) in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty. Brandt was a silver medalist at Youth America Grand Prix in 2004 and 2008. She was awarded a 2013 Princess Grace Foundation-USA Dance Fellowship.
Thomas Forster was born in London, England and began his ballet training at the age of 8 with the Royal Ballet School Associate Programme. He continued his training with Elmhurst School of Dance and joined the Upper School of the Royal Ballet School in 2002. He has performed with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Ballet. Forster joined ABT’s Studio Company in May 2006, became an apprentice with the main Company in January 2007 and joined the corps de ballet in December 2007. His repertory with the Company includes the High Brahmin in La Bayadère, a Step-Sister in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Lorenzo in Don Quixote, the Duke in Gaîté Parisienne, Hilarion in Giselle, Her Lover in Jardin aux Lilas, the Jailer in Manon, His Friend in The Moor’s Pavane, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Fairy Cavalier and Prince Fortune in The Sleeping Beauty, von Rothbart (Ballroom and Lakeside) in Swan Lake and The Poet in Les Sylphides and roles in Bach Partita, Baker’s Dozen, Company B, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Duets, Gong, One of Three, Private Light, Raymonda Divertissements, Sinfonietta, Symphony in C and With a Chance of Rain. He created the Mouse King in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the English Prince in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, as well as roles in Aftereffect,Dumbarton, Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once, From Here On Out, Thirteen Diversions and Troika.
Luciana Paris was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and began her ballet training at the age of seven with Elena Perez. From 1991 through 1996, she studied at the Colón Theater Superior de Art Institute, where she was a recipient of a Colón Theater Foundation Scholarship. In 1996, she toured with Ballet Cámara in Argentina and joined the Teatro Colón Ballet as a soloist. In December 1996, she joined Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino as a principal dancer performing classical, neoclassical and modern repertoire. Paris joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in October 2001. Her repertoire with the Company includes a flower girl and the lead gypsy in Don Quixote, the first Shade variation in La Bayadère, an Odalisque and Lead Pirate Woman in Le Corsaire, the pas de trois in Swan Lake, the Flower Girl in Gaîté Parisienne, Bathilde and the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Prudence in Lady of the Camellias, Her Other Stepsister and Moss in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Prayer and Lead Mazurka in Coppélia, Columbine and one of the Nutcracker’s Sisters in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Autumn in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, a Carnival Dancer in Othello, a Harlot and Rosaline inRomeo and Juliet, the Fairy Fleur de farine and the Silver Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Persephone in Sylvia, the Cowgirl in Rodeo, and leading roles in Fancy Free, The Leaves Are Fading, Pillar of Fire, Jardin aux Lilas, Dark Elegies, Sinatra Suite, In the Upper Room, Brief Fling, The Brahms-Hayden Variations, Rabbit and Rogue, Baker’s Dozen, Bach Partita, Symphony #9, Dumbarton, Firebird, The Bright Stream, Seven Sonatas, Company B, Airs, Black Tuesday, Duets, Allegro Brillante, Theme and Variations, Symphonie Concertante, Symphony in C, Ballet Imperial, Ballo della Regina, Études, Glow – Stop, Gong, Raymonda Divertissements and With a Chance of Rain. She created a leading role in Robert Hill’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra. Paris danced Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite with Marcelo Gomes at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors and at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts Gala opening in Las Vegas in 2012. She is a Certified Teacher of ABT’s National Training Curriculum.
Arron Scott was raised in State College, Pennsylvania and started his training at the Ballet Theatre of Central Pennsylvania. He has danced on full scholarships at American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the School of American Ballet summer programs as well as being a 2002-2003 ABT National Training Scholar. He trained for two years at the School of American Ballet where he was awarded the Rudolf Nureyev Scholarship. Scott joined the ABT Studio Company in September 2003 and the main Company as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2004. His roles with the Company include Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, the Bronze Idol and the Head Fakir in La Bayadère, the Jester and Napoleon in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Birbanto in Le Corsaire, Lead Gypsy in Don Quixote, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, the Beggar Chief in Manon, Kolia in A Month in the Country, a Carnival Dancer in Othello, the Wolf in The Sleeping Beauty, the Neapolitan Dance in Swan Lake, Eros in Sylvia and leading roles in Airs, Bach Partita, Brief Fling, Company B, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Duets, Dumbarton, Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once, Gong, In the Upper Room, The Leaves Are Fading, Mozartiana, Seven Sonatas, Sinfonietta and Symphony #9. He created a Fairy Cavalier in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Cassandra Trenary, a native of Georgia, began training at age three at Lawrenceville School of Ballet. In 2006, she joined the school’s company, Southern Ballet Theatre under the direction of Phyllis Allen. Trenary received additional training at Southeast Regional Ballet Association conventions. In 2009, Trenary received a SERBA Star Student award. From 2006-2010, she was an American Ballet Theatre National Training Scholar and attended the Summer Intensive in New York City from 2007 through 2010. She was a 2011 National YoungArts Foundation Winner and a 2011 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts nominee. Trenary studied at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre and performed with the ABT Studio Company on their 2011 European tour. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in April 2011 and became a member of the corps de ballet in November 2011. Her repertory includes a Shade in La Bayadère, Columbine, the Chinese Dance and one of the Nutcracker’s Sisters in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Younger Sister in Pillar of Fire, a Harlot in Romeo and Juliet, the Diamond Fairy and the Fairy Canri qui chante (Canary) in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois and a little swan in Swan Lake and roles in Bach Partita, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Private Light, Raymonda Divertissements and Sinfonietta. She created Princess Florine in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Born in Moscow, Maria Kochetkova trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School prior to dancing with The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet in London. She joined San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer in 2007 where her repertoire includes the title role in Giselle, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Kitri in Don Quixote, Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake and Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She has performed in George Balanchine’s Coppélia (Swanilda), Divertimento No. 15, Jewels, Serenade, Theme and Variations, Symphony in C andScotch Symphony, William Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated, Kenneth MacMillan’s Winter Dreams, Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations and Voices of Spring and Wayne McGregor’s Chroma. Kochetkova has created principal roles in Helgi Tomasson’s On a Theme of Paganini and Trio, Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, Alexei Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands, Jorma Elo’s One Overture, Mauro Bigonzetti’s Cinque and Wayne McGregor’sBorderlands. Kochetkova’s prizes and awards include the Isadora Duncan Award for the role of Giselle and medals at International Ballet Competitions in Seoul, Italy, Luxembourg, Varna and Moscow. She is also a winner of the Prix de Lausanne (2002). She was nominated for a Critics’ Circle National Dance Award (U.K.) for Best Female Dancer in 2014 and for a Benois de la Danse Award in 2013 for her performance as Tatiana in Cranko’s Onegin. In 2013, Kochetkova debuted as a Guest Artist with American Ballet Theatre and returned for the 2014 and 2015 Spring seasons. Her repertoire with ABT includes Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Kitri in Don Quixote and Nikiya in La Bayadère.
Kochetkova remains a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet and will perform with both companies during the 2015-16 season.
Alban Lendorf was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and received his training at the Royal Danish Ballet School. In 2006, he joined the Royal Danish Ballet as an apprentice and a member of its corps de ballet in 2008. He was promoted to Soloist in 2010 and to Principal Dancer in 2011. His repertoire with the Royal Danish Ballet includes Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Désiré in Christopher Wheeldon’s The Sleeping Beauty, Gennaro in Napoli, James in La Sylphide, Armand in Lady of the Camellias, the title role in Apollo, Des Grieux in Manon, The Prince in The Nutcracker, Basilio in Don Quixote, Solor in La Bayadère, Franz in Coppélia, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and principal roles in Études, Other Dances, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Dances at a Gathering, Flower Festival in Genzano, Donizetti Variations, Agon, La Sonnambula, Symphony in C, Bournonville Variations, Les Gentilhommes, Chroma and Le Corsaire pas de deux. He originated roles in Louis Midjord’s Othello, Kim Brandstup’s Eidolon, Iain Rowe’s An Elegy for Us, Alexei Ratmansky’s The Golden Cockerel and Stephen DeLattre’s Unraveling. In 2009, Lendorf won the Golden Ballet award and a D.A.N.C.E. Grant. In 2013, he was awarded “Best Male Dancer” at Prix Benois de la Danse. In 2013, Lendorf debuted as an Exchange Artist with American Ballet Theatre dancing the role of Prince Désiré inThe Sleeping Beauty. He returned as a Guest Artist dancing Basilio in Don Quixote in 2014.
Lendorf will remain a principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet for the 2015-16 season.
Jeffrey Cirio began his ballet training at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. He became a trainee with Boston Ballet School and joined Boston Ballet II for the 2007-2008 season. He continued his training at Orlando Ballet School and returned to Boston Ballet in 2009 as a member of the corps de ballet. He was promoted to second soloist in 2010, to soloist in 2011 and was appointed principal dancer with Boston Ballet in 2012. Cirio’s repertory with Boston Ballet includes Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty, The Prince in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, the Bronze Idol and Solor in La Bayadère, Oberon and Puck in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cavalier, Snow King and Russian Lead in The Nutcracker, Mercutio and Benvolio in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, a Sailor in Fancy Free and the pas de deux from August Bournonville’s William Tell and Flower Festival at Genzano. His repertory also includes roles in George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, Harlequinade, Ballo della Regina, Symphony in Three Movements, The Four Temperaments, Symphony in C, Tarantella and Diamonds and Rubies pas de deux in Jewels, Wayne McGregor’s Chroma and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. Cirio originated the principal roles in Jorma Elo’s Awake Only and Elo Experience. For Boston Ballet, Cirio choreographed Trial in 2014 and fremd in 2015. Cirio won a Gold Medal at Youth America Grand Prix in 2005, a Princess Grace Fellowship and a Gold Medal at the Helskini International Ballet Competition in 2009.
American Ballet Theatre’s 2015 Spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House continues through July 4. For more information, visit www.abt.org.
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
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