Four Dancers Promoted to Principal at New York City Ballet

Early Sunday evening, just after New York City Ballet’s final performance of the season, four soloists received the kind of postseason gift every dancer dreams of: Emilie Gerrity, Isabella LaFreniere, Roman Mejia and Mira Nadon were elevated to the rank of principal dancer. They learned of their promotions onstage after the curtain fell on “The Sleeping Beauty,” receiving the news from Jonathan Stafford, the company’s artistic director, and Wendy Whelan, its associate artistic director. During that ballet’s two-week run, and throughout the winter season, they had all made important debuts, including originating roles in the premiere of Justin Peck’s evening-length “Copland Dance Episodes.”

Nadon, the youngest at 21, is newsworthy beyond her shimmering technique and overall radiance. She is also the company’s first Asian American female principal. (Her mother is South Asian.) “I had no idea,” she said, adding that the news was “really amazing and quite an honor.”

As for the promotion itself? Nadon, usually composed, sounded shaky. “I still haven’t quite processed it, but it’s just a whole new height that you have to hold yourself to,” she said. “To be in the top rank in the company is a big responsibility. I feel like I have a lot of work to grow into that title, but I’m really excited to start.”

More on N.Y.C. Theater, Music and Dance This Spring

During the winter season, Nadon, who was born in Boston and began her training at the Inland Pacific Ballet Academy in Montclair, Calif., was especially busy: She made debuts in George Balanchine’s “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” and “Episodes,” Jerome Robbins’s “Rondo” — opposite LaFreniere — and as the Lilac Fairy and Diamond in Peter Martins’s “The Sleeping Beauty.”

Both she and LaFreniere, from Lambertville, Mich., were promoted to soloist in 2022. LaFreniere, 26, who danced Aurora in “Beauty” for the first time last week, joined the company in 2014. Injuries have curtailed her progress, but she emerged from the pandemic refreshed and recharged, making important debuts in two vintage gems: Balanchine’s “Chaconne” and Balanchine and Robbins’s “Firebird,” which she reprised this season with mystery and mastery.

Mejia, 23, who made “Beauty” debuts as Bluebird and Gold, has in recent seasons shown his athletic virtuosity as Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and in “Rubies” from “Jewels.” Born in Fort Worth, Texas, he has ballet in his blood. Starting at age 3, he began training with his parents, Maria Terezia Balogh and Paul Mejia, a former dancer with City Ballet. Mejia, too, was transformed after the pandemic; his brashness took on a new refinement, while retaining its ebullient power. In 2021, he was promoted to soloist.

Gerrity, at 32, has long been an integral, versatile member of the company, joining in 2010 and becoming a soloist in 2017. That kind of longevity can stunt a dancer, but Gerrity, who possesses a voluptuous strength, has seemingly used the time to develop her own artistic voice. This season, she made debuts as the Lilac Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty,” as well as in Balanchine’s “Walpurgisnacht Ballet.”

Born in Danbury, Conn., Gerrity began training at 5 and went onto study at the New Paltz School of Ballet and before joining City Ballet, studied at the company’s affiliated School of American Ballet, along with all the new principals. “I’m freaking out,” she said. “I feel crazy in all ways. I’ve worked my entire life to get here.”

Gerrity has been in the company the longest of the four. “I remember being like, I don’t know if it’s going to happen — because you really do never know,” she said. “But I was like, I’m getting these amazing opportunities, and why am I going to sit here and think maybe it’s not going to happen versus just applying myself and trying to be better each time?”

She added, “Of course, tears were shed.”

Source: Read Full Article