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Cincinnati Ballet Announces Exciting Promotions and New Dancers for 2017-2018 Company Roster

by Ashley Kruger
August 16, 2017
Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director, Victoria Morgan, is proud to announce the 2017-2018 dancer roster, complete with eight new hires and five promotions, including Sirui Liu, who moves from Senior Soloist to Principal, and Chisako Oga, who moves from Soloist to Principal.

Coming to the U.S from Shanghai, China, Sirui Liu joined Cincinnati Ballet in 2011 as a member of the Corps de Ballet, and has consistently risen through the ranks. “Sirui has an unusual work ethic – she dances to the fullest of her capacity every time,” noted Victoria Morgan. “Her stamina and attention to detail has inspired our artistic staff and her peers. Sirui is always on! I started seeing her as a Principal, watching her in The Nutcracker, in both the Grand Pas (Sugar Plum Fairy) and Snow Queen roles, and working closely with her in Cinderella as the Fairy Godmother. She has improved immensely over the years, and her sky-rocketing ability, matched with her generous on-stage spirit, has earned her Principal status.”

Along with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen and Fairy Godmother, Liu has danced feature roles with Cincinnati Ballet including Swanilda in Coppélia, Rose in The Nutcracker’s Waltz of the Flowers, Guinevere’s friend in King Arthur’s Camelot, and she recently danced in several contemporary works, such as Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Adam Hougland’s Cut to the Chase, Jennifer Archibald’s Never.Nest, Heather Britt’s Karass, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Eros Redux. In 2016, Liu was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.”

Originally from Carlsbad, California, Chisako Oga joined Cincinnati Ballet’s Corps de Ballet in 2016, and was promoted mid-season to Soloist. Oga had previously been an apprentice at San Francisco Ballet. She has enjoyed several leading roles throughout the 2016-2017 season, including the Black Swan Pas, Swanilda in Coppélia, Guinevere in King Arthur’s Camelot, Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and several contemporary works including Justin Peck’s Capricious Maneuvers, Ma Cong’s Near Light, Adam Hougland’s Cut to the Chase, Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Heather Britt’s Karass, Jennifer Archibald’s Never.Nest, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Eros Redux.

“Chisako is well-trained, having attended San Francisco Ballet School on full scholarship. She then danced in SFB’s Second Company for two years before joining the SFB Company. When she arrived in Cincinnati, she was primed and ready for advancement. Her mind is always thinking about what you are going to say, and she is already presenting that thought in a physical expression - smart, fast, inventive and willing! She came to the call of Cincinnati Ballet, seeking a brilliant petit dancer to partner with two of our Principal men. Her technique is impressive, and I learned through my work with her as Guinevere in King Arthur’s Camelot that she has emotional depth to match her ballet technique. She moved up quickly in her first year, and proved she was worthy of Principal status for her second year,” stated Victoria Morgan.

Additional promotions announced include Melissa Gelfin, who has been promoted from Corps de Ballet to the rank of Senior Soloist, and Maizyalet Velázquez who has been promoted from Soloist to Senior Soloist. David Morse has been elevated from Corps de Ballet to Soloist.

Several new dancers join Cincinnati Ballet from across the U.S. and abroad, including two individuals promoted through Cincinnati Ballet’s Second Company: Michael Mengden and Naomi Tanioka, joining as Apprentices.

New hires also include former Sarasota Ballet Principal Dancer, Edward Gonzalez, from Havana, Cuba, joining Cincinnati Ballet as a Senior Soloist; Grace Choi, of Evans City, Pennsylvania, and previously at San Francisco Ballet, joining as a Corps de Ballet Dancer; Marcus Romeo of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and previously at Boston Ballet, joining as a Corps de Ballet Dancer; Bella Ureta of Seattle, and previously at Boston Ballet, joining as a Corps de Ballet Dancer; Kathleen Dahlhoff of San Francisco, joining as a New Dancer after receiving a BFA from the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University program; Christian Griggs-Drane of Richmond, Virginia, and previously at Grand Rapids Ballet, joining as a New Dancer; Abbey Kay of Ft. Lauderdale, previously at Sarasota Ballet, joining as an Apprentice; and Matthew Griffin of Minneapolis, joining as an Apprentice after receiving a BS in Dance/Arts Administration from Butler University.

Six new dancers join Cincinnati Ballet’s Second Company this season, including Daniel Baldwin, Jonathan Carter, Zoe Donnenfield, Yu Ting Huang, Ethan Kimbrell, and Megumi Nishimori.

This new roster is being announced as Cincinnati Ballet unveils plans to implement a number of exciting initiatives in the 2017-2018 Season as part of a long-term strategy for sustained growth and advancement. Along with a talented company roster, the “new” Cincinnati Ballet also encompasses an eye-catching, refreshed logo and brand identity for the Company, the launch of the Otto M. Budig Academy’s Professional Training Division, the Company’s return to Music Hall for three productions, the introduction of a brand new Family Series, and a groundbreaking partnership with Ballet West to co-present a World Premiere production.

About Cincinnati Ballet

Since 1963, Cincinnati Ballet has been the cornerstone professional ballet company of the region, presenting a bold and adventurous array of classical, full-length ballets and contemporary works, regularly with live orchestral accompaniment. Under the artistic direction of Victoria Morgan, Cincinnati Ballet has become a creative force within the larger dance community, commissioning world premiere works and exploring unique collaborations with artists as diverse as Grammy winning guitarist Peter Frampton and popular, Ohio-based band Over the Rhine. With a mission to inspire hope and joy in our community and beyond through the power and passion of dance, Cincinnati Ballet reaches beyond the stage in programs that allow every person in the region to be part of the continued evolution of dance. To that end, Cincinnati Ballet presents exhilarating performances, extensive education outreach programs and offers top level professional ballet training at Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy.

CONNECT: READ / WATCH / LISTEN / LEARN / ENJOY at cballet.org
Sirui Liu

Sirui Liu

Photo © & courtesy of Peter Mueller


Chisako Oga

Chisako Oga

Photo © & courtesy of Peter Mueller

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