Philadelphia Ballet

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The Philadelphia Ballet
General information
NameThe Philadelphia Ballet
Year founded1963
FoundersBarbara Weisberger
Principal venue
Artistic staff
Artistic DirectorÁngel Corella
Ballet MasterCharles Askegard, Samantha Dunster
Music DirectorBeatrice Jona Affron
OrchestraThe Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra
Official schoolSchool of Philadelphia Ballet
FormationPrincipal Dancer
Corps de Ballet

The Philadelphia Ballet, formerly known as the Pennsylvania Ballet, is Philadelphia's largest ballet company in the United States. As of 2021, Pennsylvania Ballet rebranded to the Philadelphia Ballet. The company's annual local season features six programs of classic favorites and new works, including the Philadelphia holiday tradition, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™. The company's artistic director is Ángel Corella.

Company history[edit]

Philadelphia Ballet, previously known as Pennsylvania Ballet, was established in 1963 by Barbara Weisberger,[1] a protégée of George Balanchine, through a Ford Foundation initiative to develop regional professional dance companies. A Philadelphia cultural institution, the company is noted for its focus on Balanchine repertoire.[1]

The company performed in the national spotlight for the first time in 1968 at New York City Center, a debut that led to a decade of national touring, appearances on PBS’s “Dance in America” series, and a stint as the official company of the Brooklyn Academy of Music during the 1970s.

In 1982, Pennsylvania Ballet became the first major American ballet company to promote an African-American woman, Debra Austin, to the rank of principal dancer.[2] From 1987 to 1989, Pennsylvania Ballet forged an alliance with Milwaukee Ballet in an unprecedented venture to create one company. The new organization, with 43 dancers, was the first in the country to offer its dancers year-round employment.

In 1995, the trustees of Pennsylvania Ballet selected its first home-grown artistic director, Roy Kaiser. A former principal, Kaiser had been hired as a company member in 1979 by Barbara Weisberger. Following his retirement from the stage in 1992, Kaiser served as principal ballet master and associate artistic director under Christopher d'Amboise before being named to his current position.

Under Kaiser's leadership, the company has expanded its Balanchine-based repertoire to include new works from both established and emerging choreographers. New works have included premieres of original ballets from choreographers Merce Cunningham, Christopher d'Amboise, Trey McIntyre, Matthew Neenan, David Parsons, Val Caniparoli, Benjamin Millepied, and Christopher Wheeldon, as well as the highly acclaimed 40th anniversary commission of Swan Lake by Christopher Wheeldon and the 2007 world premiere of Matthew Neenan's Carmina Burana. Currently employing 37 dancers, Pennsylvania Ballet annually presents a season of six programs (including George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™ ) that balance classic ballets with new works that challenge the dancers and attract a diverse audience. The company also tours throughout Pennsylvania and the East Coast to venues such as New York City Center and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It made its international debut at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2005.

In September 2014, Ángel Corella came on as artistic director.[1]

In July 2021, Pennsylvania Ballet rebranded and became Philadelphia Ballet. After nearly 60-years of artistic legacy and performance in the community of Philadelphia, this name change reflects the company's commitment to its history, inspiration, and identity. For Philadelphia Ballet, this rebranding is an homage to the company's home city. The new name embraces and embodies the beauty of the city and the connection to the communities within Philadelphia.


Fourteen members of Philadelphia Ballet (formerly Pennsylvania Ballet) appeared as the corps in the 2010 film Black Swan.[3][4] In the 2012–2013 season, the Philadelphia Ballet performed six productions. These will be performed at the Academy of Music and the Merriam Theater. The company planned to tour to The McCarter Theater in October 2012 and to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the Ballet Across America program in June 2013. Along with these performances the Philadelphia Ballet II, the company's second company, performed outreach and educational performances.


The company dancers of the Philadelphia Ballet are[5]


  • Sterling Baca
  • Jermel Johnson
  • Zecheng Liang
  • Oksana Maslova
  • Mayara Pineiro
  • Arian Molina Soca
  • Dayesi Torriente

First Soloists[edit]

  • Yuka Iseda
  • Nayara Lopes
  • Jack Thomas


Demi Soloists[edit]

  • Etienne Diaz
  • Russel Ducker
  • Lucia Erickson
  • Alexandea Heier
  • So Jung Shin
  • Jack Sprance

Corps de ballet[edit]

  • Cato Berry
  • Jacqueline Callahan
  • Adrianna de Svastich
  • Federico D'Ortenzi
  • Austin Eyler
  • Marjorie Feiring
  • Siobhan Howley
  • Denis Maciel
  • Gabriela Mesa
  • Erin O'Dea
  • Fernanda Oliveira
  • Nicholas Patterson
  • Pau Pujol
  • Sophie Savas-Carstens
  • Julia Vinez


  • Isaac Hollis
  • Mine Kusano
  • Cory Ogdahl
  • Jeremy Power
  • Paloma Berjano Torrado
  • Emily Wilson

Philadelphia Ballet II[edit]

Philadelphia Ballet II (formerly Pennsylvania Ballet II) was created in 2002 by Joyce and Herbert Kean as a second company. The dancers in this program practice frequently with the main company and are used as dancers in the larger productions. Philadelphia Ballet II also is involved with many outreach and educational programs.

  • Charlie Clinton
  • Isabella Diemedio
  • Corinne Mulcahy
  • Victoria Casals Renzetti
  • Ben Schwarz
  • Charlotte Erickson
  • Ashley Lewis
  • Shinichiro Ebe
  • Mayfield Myers

Outreach programs[edit]

Over the past several years, Philadelphia Ballet has increased its reach through creative programming initiatives such as the Family Matinee Series, the Prologue Lecture Series, and its outreach and education program, Accent on Dance, which serves over 11,000 children each year. Philadelphia Ballet II does around 25 shows for the surrounding Philadelphia communities. Other outreach programs include tickets given away to participating schools, studio tours, and school shows.

Artistic staff[edit]

Roy Kaiser has been said to have had a very influential effect on this company. He also participated in other programs such as the New York Choreographic Institute.[6]

Matthew Neenan is Philadelphia Ballet's first choreographer in residence. He danced for the company from 1994–2007.[7]


  1. ^ a b c MacAulay, Alastair (October 27, 2014). "New Director on Board, a Troupe Sets Sail: Ángel Corella's Opens Debut Season at Pennsylvania Ballet". New York Times. New York, United States. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  2. ^ Quillin, Martha (July 13, 2016). "Pioneering dancer proves her point(e)". News & Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  3. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (July 22, 2010). "'Black Swan' stars step deftly into roles". USA Today. Life – Movies. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  4. ^ Jenet, Nicole (December 21, 2010). "Philadelphia Ballet dancer from Abington in 'Black Swan'". Montgomery News. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  5. ^ "Dancers". Pennsylvania Ballet. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Whittington, Lewis (February 2004). "Artistic Director Roy Kaiser Discusses Pennsylvania Ballet's New Era". Ballet-Dance Magazine. Archived from the original on April 6, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  7. ^ "Articulate — Matthew Neenan". Articulate. Retrieved July 28, 2020.

External links[edit]