Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Hayward, Takada, Campbell & Hirano promoted to principal dancer

Recommended Posts

At the Royal Ballet Alexander Campbell, Francesca Hayward, Ryoichi Hirano and Akane Takada have been promoted to principal dancer.

Claire Calvert, Yasmine Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell are promoted to first soloist.

Matthew Ball, Tierney Heap and Mayara Magri are promoted to soloist.

Reece Clarke, David Donnelly, Benjamin Ella, Isabella Gasparini, Anna Rose O’Sullivan and Demelza Parish are promoted to first artist.

Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, Harry Churches, Leo Dixon, Isabel Lubach, Julia Roscoe and Joseph Sissens join the corps.

Royal Ballet School graduates Joseph Aumeer, Estelle Bovay, Maria Luisa Castillo Yoshida, Arianna Maldini, Giacomo Rovero, Francisco Serrano and Charlotte Tonkinson join the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme, essentially the company's apprentice program.

Vincenzo Di Primo joins the company through the Prix de Lausanne.


Link to comment

Monica Mason was born in South Africa but her parents are British. Not a principal but a Principal character artist, Elisabeth McGorian was born in Zambia and brought up in Zimbabwe.

I am also disappointed that Yuhui Choe was not promoted.

The Royal Ballet will be touring Japan with Romeo and Juliet and Giselle next week, but although Akane Takata was highly praised as Giselle in Covent Garden she is not dancing Giselle in Japan. (also Ryoichi Hirano did Albrecht in Covent Garden but he will not be doing the role either)

Link to comment

Merle Park and Vergie Derman were also born in Africa, but I think Hayward is the first female principal with a black parent, if I can put it that way.

I, too, am very sorry that Yuhui Choe's career seems to have stalled. During the most recent transmission of Giselle, as I was watching her dance the peasant pas (yet again), I was thinking how much I'd enjoy seeing her in title role, but sadly this possibility is becoming more remote.

I am glad the company's focus now seems to be on graduates of the Royal Ballet School and developing dancers within the company.

Link to comment

Congratulation to all!

I am surprised and disappointed Yuhui Choe not being promoted. Is Hayward the first African-descent principal at RB?

In addition to those mentioned by Naomikage, Merle Park and Nadia Nerina were from Africa...Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, respectively. I'm thinking that Alexis Rassine was too? (I met Rassine in Johannesburg, many moons ago, in the late 80s...happened to be visiting from his long-established home in England.)

Congrats to all of the new Principals. So deserving. All among my faves in the cinemacasts! :)

Link to comment

Perhaps Mussel you were thinking of women dancers, but the now retired Cuban Royal ballet star Carlos Acosta is also partly of black African descent.

Yes I was thinking of female dancers with black African descent, not whites born or raised in Africa.

There doesn't seem to be much fuss about a black dancer made principal at the RB like the way Misty made headlines all over the world when she became an ABT principal.

Link to comment

Yes I was thinking of female dancers with black African descent, not whites born or raised in Africa.

There doesn't seem to be much fuss about a black dancer made principal at the RB likes the way Misty made headlines all over the world when she became an ABT principal.

I was wondering if--in addition to different social/cultural mores--that was, in small part, because of the very recent Acosta precedent (even if male and female dancers face different obstacles etc.). And of course Copeland discussed the issue in her book--and has taken it into her public persona in a way Hayward doesn't seem to have done.

A relatively recent feature on Royal Ballet soloist Eric Underwood talked about race, gender and the Royal briefly:

"He is one of only five black dancers out of 96 at The Royal Ballet company (Carlos Acosta is about to retire). Does he feel that he’s had to work harder to prove himself? ‘You have to work harder in anything if you are different in something where everyone else is the same.’ Still, there are plus sides. ‘I never had to worry about how to stand out.’ Things, he says, are more challenging for black women in the corps de ballet where cookie-cutter uniformity is prized. ‘It’s a double-edged sword for a ballerina. If you look the part, you are right for the corps de ballet. But then how are you special, how are you unique?’"


The British press also showed a lot of interest in Celine Gittens' Swan Lake debut at ENB [JMcN corrected me below--she dances for Birmingham Royal Ballet] --interest that also took account of race. Here is a piece on Gittens/Singleton that foregrounds the historic character of their performance:


Having read so much about her, I was sorry that Hayward didn't have more in the way of featured roles when the Royal visited NY last year.

Link to comment

There doesn't seem to be much fuss about a black dancer made principal at the RB like the way Misty made headlines all over the world when she became an ABT principal.

In part because Hayward refuses to make a fuss of it: "It’s only when people ask me what it’s like to be a mixed-race dancer that I realize that I am. I’ve never been made to feel different, or like I shouldn’t be doing it.” http://pointemagazine.com/featured-article/the-natural/

It's probably important to consider, also, that Hayward is estranged from her mother, and that she was raised in England by her paternal grandparents, so she self-identifies as English. Her Royal Ballet bio doesn't even mention that she was born in Kenya, even though most of the other dancers' place of birth is listed as a standard feature of their biographies.

Link to comment

I think that one difference is that Hayward was seen as "the princess type" from quite early on, due to her training, interests, and fine-boned frame.

Reports suggest Hayward has good technique, but unlike Copeland wasn't pigeon-holed as the hard-body allegro powerhouse type, a classification which may make you a useful asset to an AD, but can prevent him from seeing you as a lead dramatic artist. And given the media's tendency to depict Black women as hard, rather than soft types, once they get categorized that way, it's a little harder to change that perception.

As far as I can tell, Hayward never had to achieve that shift in perception: she went to White Lodge; was seen to display a special interest in Ashton and MacMillan; and was seen/cast as a lyrical, dramatic ballerina from the beginning. (But I don't really know her rep: if she's been dancing nothing but Balanchine gut-crunchers and muscle-y modern works, someone correct me.)

Link to comment

Knowing people who have watched her progress through the RBS I would say that Hayward is one of those dancers that everyone recognises from the outset as having something really special about them. While at the school she won the Lynn Seymour award for expressive dancing so that gives you an idea of the category of dancer to which she belongs except you would not expect someone cast in the same mould as Seymour to make her debut in a principal role dancing the ballerina role in Ashton's Rhapsody which was created on Collier who was exceptionally strong technically. Its the sort of role that is generally danced by senior dancers with loads of stage experience, technique and stamina. But that is exactly what happened in 2014.

In that year Hay and Hayward made their debuts in principal roles dancing in Rhapsody a ballet created for Baryshnikov and Collier at the peak of their powers. They did not just get through it, which would in itself have been commendable in dancers so young and inexperienced, they gave a performance which emphasised the ballet's beauty rather than the technical difficulties in which it abounds. They made the choreography seem normal, natural and elegant and did so again when it was programmed with The Two Pigeons during the season that is now drawing to a close. Their approach to the ballet is rather different from that taken by McRae and Osipova and to my mind far more stylistically correct since Hay and Hayward make light of the choreography rather than making a meal of it.

Hayward joined the company at some point during the 2010/ 2011 Season and missed out on her main stage graduation performance. As the company does not think that anyone is interested in who is dancing the sundry fairies in Sleeping Beauty, the divertissements in it or those in Swan Lake you don't know who you are going to see until you pick up a cast sheet for the performance. This makes it difficult to catch the full range of performances that you might wish to see of up and coming dancers.Unless they are dancing in a major role where the casting is announced in advance it is a matter of luck as to whether you get to see them or not.

Hayward made her mark as an Ashton dancer in Rhapsody and established her credentials as a MacMillan dancer as Princess Stephanie in Mayerling. Since then she has given an extraordinarily mature and moving account of the title role in Manon, danced a very good Juliet which might have touched greatness if she had been partnered by a responsive Romeo. The general consensus among the paid critics was that her performance showed the limits of what a performer can hope to achieve without a responsive partner on stage with her. Dancing Alice with Muntagirov she almost convinced me that the work is a ballet rather than an entertainment. She has recently added to her repertory Perdita in Wheeldon's Winter's Tale, a role in his ballet In the Golden Hour and the Girl in the Invitation. In addition to all sorts of minor roles she has also danced Princess Florine which I have not seen and in the pas de trois in Swan Lake which I have managed to see her do.

She is due to make her debut as Lise early next season and I would not be at all surprised to find her cast as Aurora after Christmas Indeed I would not be surprised to see Naghdi and Stix-Brunell also cast as Aurora as all three are due to make their debuts as the Sugar Plum Fairy towards the end of the year. As all three, have until now, been too junior to have ballets programmed to display their talents they none of them seem to have been rigidly typecast . The dancer who possibly has most grounds for complaint about typecasting is Takada who appears to be seen as the company's next classical ballerina.. She has danced Odette/Odile, Aurora; Giselle; Kitri and the Sugar Plum Fairy but then management cast her as the Young Girl in Two Pigeons with James Hay as the Young Artist and they were excellent together.

The dancers to watch out for in the future are:-

1) Naghdi and Stix-Brunell who can't be far off promotion to the rank of Principal.

2) Matthew Ball just promoted to Soloist. He is a fine dance actor and gave an excellent performance of Romeo with Naghdi and an equally compelling account of the Artist in Two Pigeons playing opposite Stix-Brunell.

3) Tierney Heap just promoted to Soloist. She almost managed to make Acosta's Carmen work. Her Myrthe is pretty good for such a young dancer. It will be interesting to see whether she is cast as Lilac Fairy,

4) Reece Clarke just promoted to First Artist . He replaced Golding in the Somes' role in Symphonic Variations and made a splendid job of the role. He danced a wonderful Jeannne de Brienne in Nureyev's Raymonda Act III at his graduation performance. He has recently partnered Yanowsky in After the Rain and is down to dance the SPF's Cavalier at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see whether he is cast as the Prince and/ or in the Florestan and his Sisters variation in Sleeping Beauty next year.

5) Chisato Katsura who joined the company after graduating from the RBS last year. At the 2014 graduation performance, while in her second year, she danced a very musical and technically assured account of Raymonda to Clarke's Jeanne de Brienne. Last year at her own graduation performance she danced in an excerpt from the betrothal scene from La Bayadere. Having spent a year in the relative obscurity of the corps de ballet it is just possible that we might see her in some of the divertissements in Beauty as well as one or more of the Fairy Variations during the course of the run,

All in all the season 2016-17 season which some complained about when it was first announced wh promises to be very interesting and possibly exciting. It would seem that Mr O'Hare does have a cunning plan and is sticking to it. He promised to build the company from the bottom up and it seems that he is doing precisely that. It would also appear that Gailene Stock really did transform the school as we are beginning to see dancers promoted who have undertaken a considerable part, if not all, of their training at the RBS.

Link to comment

The British press also showed a lot of interest in Celine Gittens' Swan Lake debut at ENB--interest that also took account of race. Here is a piece on Gittens/Singleton that foregrounds the historic character of their performance:


Just to point out that Celine Gittens dances for Birmingham Royal Ballet - not ENB. And, of course, the wonderful Tyrone Singleton is a principal at BRB.

Link to comment

Just to point out that Celine Gittens dances for Birmingham Royal Ballet - not ENB. And, of course, the wonderful Tyrone Singleton is a principal at BRB.

Very sorry--I will indicate that I was wrong and note that you corrected the mistake...

Link to comment

Celine Gittens has been appointed as Principal at BRB. Her initial performances as Odette/Odile a few years ago were, in my opinion, sufficient justification for her promotion which is well deserved.

Meanwhile at Covent Garden the casting for the Winter booking period has been announced and we now know who is dancing in Sleeping Beauty and once again the initial programming details which prompted complaints in some quarters that it was a very predictable season have been transformed by the minor detail about who will actually be dancing in the two roles that management are prepared to tell us about in advance. Hayward makes her debut as Aurora with Campbell as her prince,Hay makes his debut as the prince with Takada as his Aurora. Naghdi makes her debut as Aurora with Ball making his debut as her prince,Osipova makes her debut as Aurora with Hirano making his debut as her prince. Stix -Brunell appears to have been overlooked but perhaps she is to dance Lilac Fairy.

The less exciting news is that Golding is partnering Lamb and Salenko is back yet again dancing with McRae. Golding is an extraordinarily wooden and self absorbed dancer. The only time that I have seen him show any sign of animation was when he danced with his girlfriend when Osipova was injured in Don Q. He is strong and tall but so far he has failed to reveal quite why he is a Principal dancer with the company. Last season Hayward made her debut as Juliet with him as her Romeo. The general consensus was that she had done all that was humanly possible to do with the role in the absence of a responsive Romeo.

As far as Salenko is concerned I can't fault her technically but so far she has failed to reveal in any of the roles that has danced with McRae at Covent Garden that special something that justifies guest appearances let alone the semi permanent position she seems to enjoy with the Royal Ballet. If anything, to me at least, Salenko and McRae seem to bring out the worst in each other by over reliance on their technique and a total lack of nuance or subtlety .Their performances are very polished but lack real interest once you have got past their technical strength. Salenko is the same in every role she dances and neither she nor McRae provide any form of contrast or any light or shade that would show the other off to greater advantage. It is not as if there are no shortish talented female dancers in the company. It seems to be awash with them at present.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...