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Ashley Dean and Joseph Sissens in The Statement, The Royal Ballet ©2021 ROH. Photograph by Bill Cooper
Ashley Dean and Joseph Sissens in The Statement, The Royal Ballet ©2021 ROH. Photograph by Bill Cooper

The Royal Ballet announces Company promotions, new joiners and leavers

Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare today announces promotions, new joiners and leavers for The Royal Ballet’s 2022/23 Season.

By Ashley Woodfield (Head of Ballet Press)
Thursday 7 July 2022, 11.17am

Kevin O’Hare says, ‘The wonderful accomplishments of the Company, the verve and commitment of every member, have resulted in an extraordinary Season with our return to a busy schedule of full-length productions and world premieres. I would like to congratulate each and every one of our performers and staff while also announcing some promotions, welcoming new joiners and thanking those who have made their mark on The Royal Ballet and now leave to take up new adventures.’

As previously announced, William Bracewell and Reece Clarke are promoted to Principal, the Company’s highest rank. They will feature in a wide variety of repertory during the 2022/23 Season.

Kevin O’Hare has also made the following promotions within the Company:

Joseph Sissens is promoted to First Soloist.

Annette Buvoli, Ashley Dean, Leticia Dias, Mariko Sasaki, Lukas B. Brændsrød, Leo Dixon, David Donnelly and Téo Dubreuil are promoted to Soloist.

Sophie Allnatt, Isabel Lubach, Sae Maeda, Julia Roscoe, Charlotte Tonkinson, Joonhyuk Jun, Joshua Junker, Taisuke Nakao and Giacomo Rovero are promoted to First Artist.

The Aud Jebsen Young Dancer programme was established in 2014 and provides recently graduated dancers a year’s contract to be nurtured and perform alongside the corps de ballet of The Royal Ballet. This programme is central to The Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School’s endeavour to support emerging talent and, by the start of next Season, will have provided contracts for 49 dancers at the first stage of their careers. As a result of the pandemic, the 2020/21 Aud Jebsen Young Dancer programme was extended to enable dancers the opportunity to gain experience performing with the Company. That Season’s intake – Denilson Almeida, Daichi Ikarashi, James Large, Hanna Park, Maddison Pritchard and Marianna Tsembenhoi - now become Artist, joined by Viola Pantuso from the 2021/ 22 cohort.  Olivia Findlay, Ava May Llewellyn and Alix Van Tiggelen have had their Aud Jebsen Young Dancer contracts extended into the new Season.

For the 2022/23 Season, five graduates from The Royal Ballet School join the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme: Alicia Rose Couvrette, Martin Diaz, Luc Foskett, Scarlett Harvey and Ella Newton Severgnini.

Marco Masciari, the Prix de Lausanne dancer for the 2020/21 Season, also joins the Company as an Artist.

Darrion Sellman graduate of the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco and 1st prize winner at the 2022 Prix de Lausanne, joins as the Prix de Lausanne dancer for the 2022/23 Season.

As previously announced, Principal dancer Federico Bonelli retired from the Company in May to take up a new position as Artistic Director of Northern Ballet.

Following a 19-year career with The Royal Ballet, Soloist Paul Kay leaves the Company to take up the post of Artistic Manager for Intensive Courses and Auditions (UK) with The Royal Ballet School, bringing his association with the School where he first trained, both at White Lodge and Upper School, full circle. Kay has featured in a wide range of the Company’s repertory, demonstrating a flair for virtuoso and character roles and for the distinctive style of Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor.

As previously announced, First Soloist Tierney Heap retires from the Company after ten years to pursue a career in nutrition, and Artist Joseph Aumeer leaves after four seasons to join the Royal Danish Ballet. The Royal Ballet wishes them every success for the future and thanks them all for their valued contribution to the artistic life of The Royal Ballet.

Lesley Collier leaves her full-time role as Répétiteur to the Principal Artists after 27 years coaching with the Company and Royal Ballet School. Following a remarkable career as Royal Ballet Principal, she stepped down from dancing in 1995 to become Ballet Mistress for The Royal Ballet School and took up her current position coaching Principal dancers in 2000. She received the 1987 Evening Standard Ballet Award and was appointed a CBE in 1993.

Kevin O’Hare comments, ‘Lesley has been a true inspiration to generations of dancers at The Royal Ballet and leaves an indelible mark on the Company. Her knowledge of working with Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan has been invaluable in passing on the mantle. As a dazzling ballerina in all the classics herself, it is no wonder that Lesley’s coaching has been enriching for our dancers over the years, including current performers Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Akane Takada and Francesca Hayward, among many others. Working with Lesley most recently in Ashton’s Rhapsody, Francesca has spoken memorably about being inspired to dance after seeing Lesley dance the Sugar Plum Fairy on video and how prized the opportunity has been to work with her. Lesley’s gentle and incisive observations always reap wonderful results and it has been an immense pleasure and privilege to watch her in the studio over the years, with the likes of Jonathan Cope and Edward Watson, encouraging the artistry of our dancers to bloom. I am delighted that Lesley will still work with us on occasion, including on Cinderella next Season.’

Richard Clark, Clinical Lead in Ballet Healthcare, leaves to become Rehabilitation Lead at Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club. As former physiotherapist and Interim Clinical Director for the Company, Clark has made a significant contribution to the health and performance needs of the dancers.

Amanda Skoog, The Royal Ballet’s Senior Producer, leaves to take up the role of Executive Director at English National Ballet School. She has made a huge contribution to the delivery of productions across both stages and the development of the Company’s choreographic programme. Daniel Kraus joins as Benesh Choreologist for the 22/23 Season.

The Royal Ballet also announces new appointments to the Music Department.

Grant Green returns as a full-time pianist from the start of next Season, and Zhu Sun joins on a nine-month contract as Associate Pianist. This position has been made possible by generous funding from The Radcliffe Trust.

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