The BLOG: Culture

Six promising promotions for Boston Ballet

Seo Hye Han in William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costume by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet

Seo Hye Han in William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costume by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet

This morning, Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announced six promotions for the 2016-17 season. Soloists Anaïs Chalendard and Seo Hye Han have been promoted to Principal Dancers, Second Soloist Junxiong Zhao is promoted to Soloist, Corps de Ballet Dancer Corina Gill is promoted to Second Soloist and both Desean Taber and Samivel Evans are promoted from Boston Ballet II to the Company Corps de Ballet.

“One of my greatest pleasures as an artistic director is to be able to promote outstanding talent,” Nissinen said. “These individuals are driven, committed to dance and they have all excelled in their work. Audiences will soon see them tackle bigger opportunities ahead and I am excited for their futures.”

Anyone who follows Chalendard’s career will exclaim “Finally!” upon hearing of her promotion to Principal. According to Dance Europe Magazine, she is one of the best 100 dancers in the world. The ballerina from Renaison, France, trained with the Ecole Nationale de danse de Marseille — and it shows. Chalendard’s French training sets her aside as a special dancer in the company, whose unique poise and elongated movement make her a captivating and otherworldly dancer. Chalendard, who joined Boston Ballet in 2013, embodies the strength of a lead dancer. She brings immaculate technique, profound emotion and confidence to her performances, and regularly dances Principal roles.

“I don’t think it’s more of a responsibility than what I was before because commitment is at every level of the company,” Chalendard said in an interview with the NewBostonPost. “… In my case, it’s more of a reward for all those years of work. It’s not so much that I have to do a better job. I’m going to do the same job and keep doing an excellent job because that’s what I signed for.”

Chalendard, who is 34-years-old, noted that it is late in her career to become a Principal Dancer. But that does not deter her optimistic attitude.

“I am grateful that (a promotion to Principal) happened late,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned, being a Principal now is a very big satisfaction. I’m so happy it happened now and I’m so happy that it happened with Boston Ballet.”

Chalendard gave an especially moving performance this February as Tatiana in Boston Ballet’s production of John Cranko’s Onegin, opposite Soloist Sabi Varga, and more recently showed off an edgy yet deep and vulnerable side in a breathtaking lead performance of “Smoke and Mirrors,” again with Varga.

Although she equates picking a favorite role to the impossibility of picking a favorite child, she singled out those two particular roles as unique experiences during the 2015-16 season.

“Dancing and having this communication through body and this live representation of feeling and intention with the audience is unique,” she said. “I am privileged, and every time I dance I’m more aware of it. … Every time I’m onstage, I enjoy every second.”

Anaïs Chalendard in Mikko Nissinen's Swan Lake; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Anaïs Chalendard in Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Seo Hye Han, a ballerina from Seoul, Korea is a firecracker onstage. Her quick and pristine technique combined with comfortable elegance make her a breath of fresh air, and she has given a number of memorable performances in the 2015-16 season. Just this month, Han gave her debut as Odette/Odile in Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake. On opening night of the ballet, she danced a delightful Pas de Trois with Zhao and Ji Young Chae, and is currently dancing lead roles for Boston Ballet’s production of Mirrors, in “Resonance” and “Bitches Brew.”

Newly promoted Soloist Junxiong Zhao joined Boston Ballet in 2014, and is rising fast at the company. This has been a wildly successful season for the dancer from Chongqing, China, highlighted by multiple lead roles and awe-inspiring performances. Like Chalendard and Varga, Zhao and Han seem to bring out the best in each other, partnering for his debut as Siegfried in Swan Lake, as Lensky in John Cranko’s Onegin and in the opening night Pas de Trois of Swan Lake. He brings an incredible lightness to the stage, with effortless leaps and soft, silent landings. With each performance he pushes himself to new lengths as a dancer, and his capabilities appear endless.

Corina Gill’s name increasingly appears in featured roles on Boston Ballet’s casting, and each of her performances proves why. Her flawless precision as a cygnet on the opening night of Swan Lake was just a hint of Gill’s capability. A few weeks later she danced the challenging pas de deux, “Belong,” with Soloist Paul Craig. She excelled in the demanding role that requires strength, intricate technique, gracefulness and emotional intimacy. The San Diego native seems fully prepared for more responsibility in featured dancing next season as a Second Soloist.

Unless you were to read the program carefully, you would never guess that Desean Taber (Salisbury, Conn.) and Samivel Evans (Santa Fe, New Mexico) were not yet members of the company this 2015-16 season. They are two Boston Ballet II dancers who set especially high standards for themselves, and fit into the corps with ease. Managing to be both reliable in synchronization and also standing out as unique dancers, Taber and Evans will be great assets to Boston’s Corps de Ballet.

At a later date, Boston Ballet will release the full 2016-17 season roster. The 2015-16 season comes to a close this Saturday, May 28.

Mary Hierholzer

Mary Hierholzer

Mary Hierholzer is a freelance journalist and Gordon College graduate.