The Washington Ballet Announces New Dancers, Promotions

The Washington Ballet Announces New Dancers, Promotions


WASHINGTON, D.C. -The Washington Ballet has announced the addition of seven new Company members, three new apprentices and five new Studio Company members for the 2015-2016 season, making up the largest Company and Studio Company the organization has known to date. This illustrious collaboration of artists represents 14 states and 13 countries.


“I can’t wait to begin a new season with these beautiful and inspiring artists. We’ve assembled what I believe to be our strongest group of dancers to date and we all look forward to seeing them grow and pull audiences in with the exciting new works we have in store, said Artistic Director Septime Webre.


New dancers include Nicole Graniero from New York City. Graniero comes to The Washington Ballet with a resume that includes Craig Salstein’s IntermezzoDance Company, Benjamin Millepied’s Danse Concertantes, Stiefel and Stars, Tom Gold Dance and most recently, American Ballet Theatre. She studied at Studio Maestro and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.


Esmiana Jani, originally from Albania, is promoted from Apprentice. She has been studying and performing ballet in the Bolshoi Conservatory style for more than ten years. She performed with The Washington Ballet Studio Company for two years and has won semi-finalist in the Jackson International Ballet Competition and Third Place in Senior Classical at Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP).


Native Cuban Javier Morera joins The Washington Ballet this season after dancing with the Florida Classical Ballet, where he was a Principal Guest in 2015. He was also a soloist with the National Ballet of Cuba from 2011 to 2014. He has danced principle and soloist roles for other companies including Alicia Alonso and was awarded a Gold Medal at the International Ballet Competition in 2011.


Ashley Murphy from Louisiana was a member of Dance Theatre of Harlem for 13 years before moving to DC. Murphy also taught for the company’s Pre-Professional Residency at the Kennedy Center. During Dance Theatre of Harlem’s eight year hiatus, Ashley was influential in helping to restore the company by performing in the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble that continued to share the company’s legacy.


Born in Cuba, Jorge Oscar Sanchez started dancing at the age of 15. He went on to join The National Ballet of Cuba where he danced many roles and performed as a soloist. He has also performed with The Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami and was a Principal dancer with the Columbia City Ballet last season. Earlier this year, he received the Award for “Best Dancer of Miami” at the Miami Life Awards.


Venus Villa from Cuba began her training at the prestigious Cuban National Ballet and has performed with the Royal Ballet in London, Vienna Staatsoper Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet. Villa was selected by the artistic director of English National Ballet as the “emerging dancer” of the company and was nominated by the English Press as “Young Spotlight of The Year” for the role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland.


Samuel Wilson joins The Washington Ballet from Dance Theatre of Harlem where he has been a Company member since 2003. Mr. Wilson began his dance training at the age of 15 with the Bremerton Dance Center in his home state of Washington and has performed many principle roles. He has performed at The White House and on BET.


To round out the company, Daniel Savetta returns as a second apprentice. There are also three new apprentices: Rachel Jones, Olivia Lipnick and Stephanie Sorota. Jones and Lipnick were promoted from The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company. Additionally, there are five new members of the Studio Company: Kimberly Cilento, Giselle MacDonald, Darion Flores, Sarah Steele and Yossi Zorfaty. Cilento and MacDonald were promoted from The Washington Ballet’s Trainee program.


These additions and promotions join returning TWB Company members Kateryna Derechyna, Francesca Dugarte, Jonathan Jordan, Sona Kharatian, Ayano Kimura, Tamás Krizsa, Corey Landolt, Brooklyn Mack, Tamako Miyazaki, Andile Ndlovu, Gian Carlo Perez, Daniel Roberge, Maki Onuki and Morgann Rose.




A Collaboration with Ballet Hawaii



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Septime Webre, Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet (TWB), along with Company dancers, Emily Ellis, Jonathan Jordan, Sona Kharatian, Tamás Krizsa, Corey Landolt, Jared Nelson, Maki Onuki, Daniel Roberge, Morgann Rose, and Luis R. Torres will join Ballet Hawaii in staging Septime Webre’s acclaimed adaptation of the fairy tale Cinderella. The production opens on Friday, August 9, 2013 and runs through Sunday August 11, 2013 at Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Dancers Morgann Rose and Luis R. Torres will have multiple roles to fill when they arrive in Hawaii.  Rose and Torres will act as Répétiteurs for the production as well as Master teachers for students in Ballet Hawaii’s Summer Intensive program.  Maki Onuki and Jared Nelson will reprise their roles as Cinderella and the Prince, from TWB’s March 2013 production.  Sona Kharatian stars as the Fairy Godmother, with Morgann Rose as a fairy and Luis R.Torres as one of the Stepsisters.  The cast will include guest dancers from other ballet companies and students from Ballet Hawaii’s Summer Intensive program.

Set to Sergei Prokofiev’s impassioned score, this romantic full-length production is complete with lush costumes and fanciful sets. The popular story of a poor girl whose fairy godmother helps her win the love of a prince is retold at its finest. With a series of giant clocks as the backdrop during the climactic stroke of twelve, set designer James Kronzer brings the anticipation of midnight to life on stage.



SEPTIME WEBRE (Artistic Director, Choreographer) was appointed artistic director of The Washington Ballet in June 1999 after six years as artistic director of American Repertory Ballet in New Jersey. Much in demand as a choreographer, he has created works that appear in the repertoires of many companies in North America, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, Atlanta Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet and Colorado Ballet, among many others. As a dancer, Mr. Webre was featured in works by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, Alvin Ailey, and Merce Cunningham, as well as in principal and solo roles from the classical repertoire. Mr. Webre sits on the boards of Dance/USA, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, the Advisory Committee of Dance/Metro DC, and has received the DC Mayor’s Arts Award for Visionary Leadership in the Arts as well as a number of fellowships for his choreography. Mr. Webre is the seventh son in a large Cuban-American family, and he graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. in History/Pre-Law.

JAMES KRONZER (Scenic Designer) graduated from Catholic University with a BFA in Acting. He went on to receive a Certificate in Scenic Art from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Mr. Kronzer lives and works predominantly in Washington, D.C., but he also has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at various regional theaters.  He has designed numerous national tours including The Pajama Game, Backyardigans and Seussical the Musical. Mr. Kronzer received his first Helen Hayes Award for “Outstanding Set Design” in 1989, followed by seven additional Helen Hayes Awards and countless nominations. In 2009, Mr. Kronzer received a Barrymore Award for Something Intangible at the Arden Theater Company. His set designs have been seen on the local stages of the Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre, Metro Stage, Imagination Stage, Theatre J and Folger Theatre. Mr. Kronzer has designed for national tours and for regional theaters in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Utah, California, Wisconsin, Nevada and New York. He also designs for film, television and cruise ships and has even designed a Halloween White House display.

JUDANNA LYNN (Costume Designer) Judanna Lynn has designed costumes for most of the major dance companies in the United States, among them Milwaukee Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Ballet West, BalletMet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, Hartford Ballet, Hubbard Street, The Jose Limon Dance Co., Louisville Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and The Washington Ballet. Most recently, she designed the costumes for Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker which was seen at the Kennedy Center last season. Other credits include the costumes for “Festival of the Lion King” for the opening of Disney’s theme park in Hong Kong; Houston Ballet’s highly acclaimed productions of Don Quixote, Dracula and Cleopatra; the musical Lyle for Charles Strouse; The Hartford Stage/Old Globe Theatre’s production of Tintypes; and the musicals Once On This Island for the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis and Hats!, which is currently touring the United States. Ms. Lynn was a former dancer with San Francisco Opera Ballet and former resident costume designer of The Juilliard School. She is also a painter whose work has been seen at the Rizzoli and Miniatura Galleries in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art and in private collections.


TONY TUCCI (Lighting Designer) has created lighting designs for the current Ballet Austin repertory and for Austin Musical Theatre’s West Side Story, Annie, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line, Gypsy, Music Man, Oklahoma and The Sound of Music. He also designed for the Bruce Wood Company, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Metropolitan Classical Ballet in Arlington and Houston’s Dance Salad in Texas. Other works include American Ballet Theatre’s Configurations choreographed by Choo-San Goh with Mikhail Baryshnikov and the video Baryshnikov, The Dancer and The Dance, Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s Carmina Burana, Cynthia Gregory’s staging of Swan Lake and Fernando Bujones’ dances for Ballet de Monterrey. For the 1996 Summer Olympics, Mr. Tucci designed lighting for the Cultural Olympiad, which showcased six national and international companies. Other companies Mr. Tucci has designed for around the country are Dance Theatre of Harlem, Milwaukee Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ballet Internationale Indianapolis, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and Boston Ballet.



Cinderella (2004)

Septime Webre’s Cinderella combines magnificent beauty, ravishing costumes and Prokofiev’s ultra-lush score in the retelling of this popular fairy tale romance of a poor girl whose fairy godmother helps her win the love of a Prince. Storytelling at its finest—magic pumpkins, evil stepsisters and handsome courtiers in a swirling mirrored ballroom scene from Versailles.


Music: Sergei Prokofiev

Choreography: Septime Webre

Sets: James Kronzer

Costumes: Judanna Lynn

Lighting: Tony Tucci



Originally founded as The Washington School of Ballet in 1944 by legendary ballet pioneer Mary Day and incorporated as a professional company in 1976, The Washington Ballet (TWB) is one of the pre-eminent ballet organizations in the United States.  TWB built an international reputation presenting bold works by choreographers from around the world, including Choo-San Goh, Christopher Wheeldon, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp and Nacho Duato, as well as Neoclassical masterworks and fresh stagings of 19th century classics. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Septime Webre and Managing Director Arthur Espinoza, TWB has embraced a three-part mission: ensuring excellence in its professional performance company; growing the next generation of dancers through its Washington School of Ballet; and serving the community in which it resides through robust community engagement programs.



Ballet Hawaii has been enriching Hawaii’s cultural environment by teaching, promoting, presenting, and producing dance since 1976. Originally a support group for the Honolulu City Ballet, this non-profit organization provides opportunities for self-growth, while instilling self-esteem and pride in its students, patrons and audiences. Its classes are focused on building self-confidence through accomplishment, while its presentations of world-class performances provide the community with the priceless gift of professional quality dance.  



Kateryna Derechyna, Caroline Diane, Nicole Haskins, Hyun-Woong Kim and Melih Mertel join TWB as Company members


Studio Company dancers Ji Young Chae and Daniel Roberge promoted to Company Apprentice


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Ballet (TWB) announces the 2012.2013 company roster, including the addition of Kateryna Derechyna, formerly of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company; Caroline Diane, formerly of the San Francisco Ballet; Nicole Haskins, formerly of The Sacramento Ballet; Hyun-Woong Kim, formerly of the Korea National Ballet Company; and Melih Mertel, formerly of Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, who begin their first season as Company members. Ms. Derechyna, Diane and Haskins and Mr. Kim and Mertel join resident company members Kara Cooper, Aurora Dickie, Emily Ellis, Zachary Hackstock, Jonathan Jordan, Sona Kharatian, Tamás Krizsa, Corey Landolt, Brooklyn Mack, Andile Ndlovu, Jared Nelson, Maki Onuki, Morgann Rose and Luis R. Torres.


Studio Company members Ji Young Chae and Daniel Roberge have been promoted to Company apprentices. Ms. Chae and Mr. Roberge join resident company apprentice Ayano Kimura.


“I am thrilled to welcome five new dancers to our roster this season said Septime Webre, TWB’s Artistic Director.  “I am also excited to promote two of our Studio Company dancers into the company as Apprentices”



Kateryna Derechyna, of Ukraine, began training at the Odessa Ballet Academy under Elvira Karavaeva and performed with the main company at the Odessa Ballet Opera. In 1997, she competed in the International Competition in Kiev where she won first place in the senior category. Ms. Derechyna came to the United States to compete in the 2000 Youth American Grand Prix where she was awarded a full scholarship to the Harid Conservatory. She has danced as a soloist with Columbia Classical Ballet and performed as a guest artist with Carolina Dance Theater.  In 2005, she joined the Grand Rapids Ballet. She has danced a variety of repertoire including Gordon Peirce Schmidt’s  Petra, The Tempest, Rite of Spring, Firebird, Jack the Ripper, George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, Who Cares, Valse Fantaisie, Serenade, Septime Webre’s  Where the Wild Things Are, Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, Lew Christiansen’s Con Amore, Mario Radacovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Black White Swan, The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Paquita, Raymonda, and Napoli. Most recently she worked with Olivier Wevers, who is the recipient of the Princess Grace Choreography Award, for his piece The Sofa.


Caroline Diane, of Colorado Springs, CO, began her training with German Zamuel and Valentina Moukhanova Zamuel at Zamuel Ballet School in Colorado.  Ms. Diane has attended summer programs at The Washington School of Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet on scholarship. In 2006, as a Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) national finalist, she was awarded a scholarship to train year-round at The National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada. In 2007, she was again named a YAGP national finalist, receiving a full scholarship to train at The John Cranko Ballett Schule and Staatliche Ballettakademie in Stuttgart, Germany. While a student there, Ms. Diane performed with the Stuttgart Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardee and Haydee/Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty; as well as dancing lead for the school’s tours in George Balanchine’s Grand Pas de Deux from Sylvia. Upon graduation in 2010, Ms. Diane joined the San Francisco Ballet as an apprentice. She was promoted to corps de ballet in 2011. Her favorite roles at San Francisco include the Ballerina Doll solo in Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker and Bridesmaid in John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid. Other roles include works by Helgi Tomasson, George Balanchine, Mark Morris, William Forsythe, Yuri Possokhov, Alexi Ratmansky and John Cranko.


Nicole Haskins, of Venice Beach, CA, spent the previous seven years with The Sacramento Ballet performing various principal and soloist roles. Some of her favorite repertory includes Alice in Ron Cunningham’s Alice in Wonderland, The Sugar Plum Fairy in Cunningham’s The Nutcracker and Liberty Bell in George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes. She received her training from The Westside School of Ballet under Yvonne Mounsey, Rosemary Valaire and Colleen Neary. She has also had the privilege to dance many ballets by George Balanchine, Septime Webre, Twyla Tharp, Edwaard Liang, Amy Seiwert and Matt Neenan. Ms. Haskins is also an experienced choreographer creating over 15 works for The Sacramento Ballet and working with schools across the country.
In 2010 she participated in the New York Choreographic Institute and in 2011 was awarded their Fellowship Grant to create a new work for The Sacramento Ballet.


Hyun-Woong Kim, of Seoul, Korea, studied ballet at Korea National University of Arts (KNUA) with Professor Sun-Hee Kim. While at KNUA, he also trained at Vaganova Ballet Academy (VBA) in St.Petersberg, Russia under Gennady Seltutsky and was chosen as the Prince in Nutcracker for his graduation performance at VBA. Mr. Kim has been awarded numerous awards throughout his career, inlcuding a nomination for the Prix Benois de la Dance in 2006, the Danseur Noble Award by Korea Ballet Association and recognition as leading artist of the year by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2007. After graduating from KNUA in 2004, Mr. Kim joined Korea National Ballet and performed in principal roles for seven years including works by Yuri Grigorovich, Patrice Bart of Paris Opera, Rolan Petit and Boris Eifman.


Melih Mertel, of İstanbul, Turkey, began classical ballet training at the İstanbul State Conservatory under Oral Yazıcı.  Mr. Mertel danced with the Antalya State Opera and Ballet for five years before joining the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet.  During his five years with the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, Mr. Mertel performed works by George Balanchine, Mehmet Balkan and Uwe Scholz.  In 2010, he was a guest artist with the Tokyo Kaneta Ballet and the Takamahatsu Hisaka Ballet.




Ji Young Chae, of Seoul, South Korea, was a Washington Ballet Studio Company member last season.  Ms. Chae trained at Seoul Arts High School and Korea National University of Arts and performed at the Paris Conservatory Ballet festival and the International Baltic Ballet Festival Gala. Awards include the gold medal at the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, 1st prize at the 2010 International Ballet Competition (Varna) and the gold medal at the 2011 Boston International Ballet Competition.


Daniel Roberge, of Australia, spent one season with The Washington Ballet Studio Company upon completion of The Washington Ballet’s Trainee Program. In 2008, he trained at the National College of Dance under Marie Walton-Mahon achieving a diploma in dance performance and placing first in choreography.  Awards include Silver Medalist–Genee International Ballet Competition (Singapore), R.A.D. Solo Seal, Finalist–A.I.C.D. International Awards, Finalist—YAGP (NYC), Semi-Finalist–Alana Haines Australasian Awards and A.R.S. Musica Australis Scholarship for outstanding achievement in Dance.



The Washington Ballet 2012.2013 Season

The Washington Ballet opens its 2012.2013 season on October 24 with a preview of Michael Pink’s chilling blockbuster Dracula (October 25- November 4) at the Kennedy Center and continues with L’Amour (love, baby) (February 14-17), the new gala-style Tour-de-Force: Stars & Stripes (February 22-24), and Septime Webre’s ravishing Cinderella (March 21-24). Further, TWB celebrates the holiday season with The Nutcracker (November 30- December 23) at the Warner Theatre and introduces the world premiere of Septime Webre’s Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises (May 9-12) as part of TWB’s American Experience. Rounding out the season, the Studio Company will be performing Peter and the Wolf (May 18-19) at THEARC Theater.


Subscriptions for the 2012.2013 season, priced from $106 to $478, are currently available at the Washington Ballet’s website or at 202.362.3606 x605. 



Originally founded as The Washington School of Ballet in 1944 by legendary ballet pioneer Mary Day and incorporated as a professional company in 1976, The Washington Ballet (TWB) is one of the pre-eminent ballet organizations in the United States.  TWB built an international reputation presenting bold works by choreographers from around the world, including Choo-San Goh, Christopher Wheeldon, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp and Nacho Duato, as well as Neoclassical masterworks and fresh stagings of 19th century classics. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Septime Webre and Executive Director Peter M. Branch, TWB has embraced a three-part mission: ensuring excellence in its professional performance company; growing the next generation of dancers through its Washington School of Ballet; and serving the community in which it resides through robust community engagement programs.