Leighton Taylor. Liza Voll Photography

Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announces the 2020–2021 season roster. A total of 60 dancers make up the Company roster, with 52 in the main company and 8 in Boston Ballet II (BBII), Boston Ballet’s second company. Today marks the first official workday for the Company and BBII since March performances and the remainder of the 2019–2020 season were cancelled due to the pandemic.

“Since March, we have worked vigorously with medical teams to develop plans to bring dancers back to the studios safely, and eventually to performances on stage. With specific, cautious, and highly monitored protocols in place, I am pleased to welcome this diverse group of creative and resilient dancers to Boston Ballet this year,” said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. “I look forward to sharing their talents with our audiences.”

Twelve nationalities are represented this season, with dancers hailing from Armenia, Australia, Brazil, China, England, France, Georgia, Ireland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the United States. BBII alumni comprise 36 per cent of the Company, and 25 per cent are Boston Ballet School alumni.

Ao Wang. Photo by Daniel Azoulay
Ao Wang. Photo by Daniel Azoulay

Boston Ballet welcomes two new dancers to the Company including Gearóid Solan (Dublin, Ireland) and Ao Wang (Beijing, China) as artists of the Company. Joining the Company as artists from BBII are Molly Novak (Santa Monica, California) and Nations Wilkes-Davis (Columbia, South Carolina). Nissinen also previously announced the following promotions: Tigran Mkrtchyan (Yerevan, Armenia) was promoted to principal dancer, Chisako Oga (Carlsbad, California) was promoted to soloist, and Soo-bin Lee (Seoul, South Korea), Sun Woo Lee (Seoul, South Korea), and Haley Schwan (Dearborn, Michigan) were promoted to second soloist.

Five new dancers join BBII: Aviva Gelfer-Mündl (Tustin, California), Brooks Landegger (New York, New York), Gabriel Lorena (São Paulo, Brazil), Alainah Grace Reidy (Covington, Louisiana), and Leighton Taylor (Charlotte, North Carolina).

NEW COMPANY DANCERS

Gearóid Solan of Dublin, Ireland, joins as an artist of the Company. Solan began his ballet training at Irish National Youth Ballet. At age 15, he left Ireland to study at the Royal Ballet School in London. After graduating, he moved to Switzerland to dance with Ballett Zürich under the directorship of Christian Spuck.

Gearóid Solan. Photo by Admill Kuyler
Gearóid Solan. Photo by Admill Kuyler

Ao Wang of Beijing, China, joins as an artist of the Company. She began her training in 2008 at the Liaoning Ballet Academy of China. In 2014, she attended The Washington School of Ballet, under the direction of Kee Juan Han, on a full scholarship. She later joined The Washington Ballet Studio Company. In 2016, Wang joined Miami City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet. In 2012, Wang won the gold medal at the Osaka International Ballet Competition and received a bronze medal at The Taolibei Competition in China. She earned a bronze medal at the Seoul International Dance Competition in 2013.

BOSTON BALLET II

Aviva Gelfer-Mündl of Tustin, California, joins as a member of Boston Ballet II. She began her ballet training at age 10 in Southern California. At 12, she won the gold medal in the Women’s Junior division at the Youth America Grand Prix New York City Finals, which offered her an opportunity to study on full scholarship at Canada’s National Ballet School. In 2018, Gelfer-Mündl was the only American to win a prize at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition, enabling her to study on full scholarship at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Later that year, she won the Grand Prize in the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards and received 2nd Prize at the VII Vaganova Prix International Ballet Competition. While at the Academy, Gelfer-Mündl performed soloist roles on tours to Greece, Japan, and Russia. In 2020, she graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy under professor Ludmila Kovaleva.

Aviva Gelfer-Mündl. Photo by by Darian Volkova
Aviva Gelfer-Mündl. Photo by by Darian Volkova

Brooks Landegger of New York, New York, joins as a member of Boston Ballet II. He began his training at the School of American Ballet in 2008, studying with Arch Higgins, Andrei Kramarevsky, and Peter Frame. He performed nearly every role in the children’s repertory with the New York City Ballet, including the role of Fritz for the 2011 nationally broadcast production of The Nutcracker. He performed the title role in the touring production of Billy Elliot and won an Independent Reviewers of New England Award for Outstanding Promise. In January 2020, Landegger joined Boston Ballet School’s Pre-Professional Program under Margaret Tracey and Peter Stark.

Brooks Landegger

Gabriel Lorena of São Paulo, Brazil, joins as a member of Boston Ballet II. He started his ballet training at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo at age 13. In 2016, he received a full scholarship to train as a pre-professional student at Miami City Ballet School under the direction of Arantxa Ochoa. In 2019, he joined Sarasota Ballet as an apprentice. He has choreographed works for students at Miami City Ballet School and Sarasota Ballet.

Gabriel Lorena. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev
Gabriel Lorena. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev

Alainah Grace Reidy of Covington, Louisiana, joins as a member of Boston Ballet II. She began her training at Ballet Apetrei in Mandeville, Louisiana under the direction of Kelly and Constantine Apetrei. She continued her studies with New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, with Karl Condon, and New Orleans Ballet Theater, with Gregory and Marjorie Schramel. In 2017, Reidy joined Boston Ballet School’s Pre-Professional program and later joined Boston Ballet School’s trainee program in 2019.

Alainah Grace Reidy. Photo by Michal Mangan
Alainah Grace Reidy. Photo by Michal Mangan

Leighton Taylor of Charlotte, North Carolina, joins as a member of Boston Ballet II. He began his ballet training at Charlotte Ballet Academy. He continued his training at the International Ballet Academy before joining Boston Ballet School as a trainee.

Leighton Taylor. Photo by by Igor Burlak
Leighton Taylor. Photo by Igor Burlak

For full biographies, please visit bostonballet.org.

Boston Ballet has implemented numerous safety measures and protocols to keep dancers safe and healthy during this season. Dancers must complete a daily self-screening and wear masks while rehearsing in a pod system with dedicated studio and dressing space to increase physical distancing from other members of the Company. Facility upgrades include optimized HVAC ventilation and filtration and investments in streaming technology equipment for choreographers’ remote rehearsals and to stay connected during Company class. Studios will be thoroughly disinfected between each use. Plans were made in partnership with a team of medical professionals and infectious disease specialists from Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, as well as the dancers’ union, American Guild of Musical Artists.