Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announced today the company’s 2009-2010 season promotions of four company members. Boston Ballet soloists Kathleen Breen Combes
, Melissa Hough
, Misa Kuranaga
and James Whiteside
have been promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer. The company, gaining great momentum from the recent artistic triumphs of George Balanchine’s Jewels and Jiří Kylián’s Black and White, is thrilled to share this exciting news. Nissinen continues Boston Ballet’s tradition of developing a diverse company with strong, versatile dancers from within the company and by recruiting talent from all over the world. This news marks a new generation of dancers rising from within the company itself.
All four dancers have been with the company for more than five seasons, Breen Combes and Kuranaga joining as members of the corps de ballet, Hough and Whiteside as members of Boston Ballet II, Boston Ballet’s second company. “It is a unique thrill for Boston to have this exceptional ‘home-grown’ talent and for the audiences that have watched them mature and excel on our stages over the years. These four dancers exemplify the success of training and developing talents from within. Our repertoire is one of the most challenging and dynamic in the world and these dancers have risen to that challenge,” said Nissinen. “I’m proud that Kathleen, Melissa, Misa and James have grown and matured at Boston Ballet, their momentum and dedication to excellence match that of the Company.”
Nissinen continued, “Boston Ballet has had an incredible year of artistic successes and our dancers continue to thrive with great artistic direction and our eclectic range of works,” said Nissinen. “This season alone, from the cutting-edge full program of Jiří Kylián, the masterwork of Balanchine’s Jewels, to classic Cinderella, each of these dancers has performed at the highest caliber and their strengths and artistry will continue to bring depth to the studio and stage. I look forward to their continued success with the Company.”
Kathleen Breen Combes joined Boston Ballet in 2003 as a member of the corps de ballet and was promoted to soloist in 2007. Breen Combes was hailed by The New York Times for her “commanding” and “remarkable performance” in the Company premiere of Balanchine Jewels last weekend. Dance critic Alastair Macaulay described her as “the archetypal Balanchine ballerina, but above all [having] piquant rhythm and a style made up of major contrasts.” Breen Combes has been called “a standout” by The Boston Globe and has consistently wowed audiences with her powerful, precise and distinguished abilities. She was also featured on the cover of Dance magazine’s October 2007 issue.
Melissa Hough joined the Company in 2004, after a year with Boston Ballet II. Promoted to soloist in 2007, she has risen through Boston Ballet, excelling with confidence in the company’s wide range of classical, neo-classical and contemporary works. Hough, along with Whiteside, was praised by The New York Times for a “sharp, clean” performance in Balanchine’s Jewels and The Boston Globe highlighted her performance of Dew Drop in the 2007 Nutcraker. Hough has also choreographed works for BBII, RAW Dance, and Boston Ballet’s Choreographic Workshop.
Misa Kuranaga joined the company in 2003 and was promoted to soloist in 2007. This February, Kuranaga was highlighted by The Boston Globe for her shining individual performance in Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort. Weeks later, in a stand-out review in The New York Times, Macaulay wrote, “Ms. Kuranaga led Rubies audaciously and vividly… with Kuranaga, the ballet becomes itself.” Recently, Kuranaga was a guest performer at the School of American Ballet’s 75th Anniversary Tribute and was called a “revelation” by Dance View Times for her performance in Serenade. Her artistry and devotion to excellence has won her attention from audiences and international recognition at competitions such as the Moscow International Ballet Competition and the USA International Ballet Competition.
James Whiteside joined Boston Ballet in 2003 as a member of the corps de ballet before being promoted to soloist in 2007. A sterling example of Boston Ballet School’s preparation for pre-professional dancers, Whiteside first participated in Boston Ballet School’s Summer Dance Program receiving an invitation to join Boston Ballet II in 2002. The Boston Globe said of his recent performance in Jewels, “Whiteside attacks the principal male role with a riveting mix of precision and brio.” He has also excelled in soloist roles in classics Cinderella and Swan Lake and contemporary works such as Jorma Elo’s World Premiere of Brake the Eyes and Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room.
About Boston BalletFounded in 1963, Boston Ballet is one of the leading dance companies in North America. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, the Company maintains an internationally acclaimed repertoire of classical, neo-classical and contemporary works, ranging from full-length story ballets to new works by some of today's finest choreographers.
Boston Ballet's second company, Boston Ballet II, is made up of pre-professional dancers who gain experience by performing with Boston Ballet and as an independent group, presenting lecture-demonstrations and unique programs to audiences throughout the Northeast. The Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education is the largest ballet school in North America. In service of its mission to bring the highest quality arts education to all, it reaches and instructs more than 10,000 students of all ages each year through Boston Ballet School, Summer Dance Workshop, Summer Dance Program, Citydance, Taking Steps, and Adaptive Dance. The wide array of dance education programs are held at four major ballet studio locations, in community centers, and throughout the Boston Public Schools.