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Joffrey Welcomes Four New Dancers From South Korea, Spain and the U.S.

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New artists join during a historic moment as company prepares for inaugural season at Lyric Opera House.

Joffrey Welcomes Four New Dancers From South Korea, Spain and the U.S.

The Joffrey Ballet's Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director and Greg Cameron, President and CEO are pleased to announce the addition of four dancers to the Joffrey roster for the 2021-22 season: Brian Bennett (Lanham, Maryland), Blake Kessler (Jacksonville, Florida), Yuchan Kim (Seoul, South Korea) and Miranda Silveira (Barcelona, Spain). With these new company members, The Joffrey Ballet has expanded to 43 dancers representing 13 countries.

Kessler joined The Joffrey Ballet in September 2020, one month before the company announced the cancellation of all remaining performances for the 2020-2021 season. Since joining, Kessler has performed with the company as part of the virtual premiere of Boléro, which will have its stage debut as part of the Joffrey's season opening production at the Lyric Opera House, Home: a Celebration, a mixed repertory program that will feature the talents of all four new dancers and runs October 13-24, 2021.

"As we prepare to launch our first-ever season at the Lyric Opera House, we are thrilled to welcome Brian, Blake, Yuchan, and Miranda, who embody the exceptional level of artistry and creativity that makes the Joffrey unique," said Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director. "For Brian in particular, this is a full circle moment as he returns to Chicago after graduating as a Trainee at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, an experience that launched him into the professional dance world at Oregon Ballet Theatre. We are happy to have him back."

"The Joffrey Artists are the foundation of The Joffrey Ballet," added Greg Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer. "It is especially gratifying when that foundation is made up of so many different backgrounds and experiences, talents and personalities, which is exactly what Brian, Blake, Yuchan, and Miranda bring to the company. It is what makes the Joffrey so special. We welcome our new company members and look forward to seeing them shine on stage this season."

About the New Dancers

Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett is from Lanham, MD. He began his dance training in the Competition circuit where he performed tap, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary routines at talent competitions across the United States, winning multiple awards. He began his ballet training in high school at Baltimore School for the Arts under the direction of Norma Pera. During this time he attended summer programs on full scholarship with San Francisco Ballet School, American Ballet Theatre, and George Mason University. After high school, Bennett attended Butler University in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree in Arts Administration under the direction of Larry Attaway. After his time at Butler he was awarded a scholarship to attend Joffrey Academy of Dance as a Trainee under the Artistic Direction of Raymond Rodriguez and Ashley Wheater before becoming a company artist with Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT), under the direction of Kevin Irving, for their 2019-2020 season. He danced with OBT for 2 years before returning to Chicago. This is his first season as a company artist with The Joffrey Ballet.

Blake Kessler

Blake Kessler was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He began his classical training in 2006 at The Florida Ballet Training Center and in 2010 continued his training with Orlando Ballet School. In 2014, Kessler was offered a traineeship at the San Francisco Ballet (SFB) under the direction of Patrick Armand. A year later, he joined San Francisco Ballet's main company. During his years at SFB, Kessler performed in numerous ballets such as George Balanchine's Rubies, Diamonds, Theme and Variation, Prodigal Son, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Coppelia; Helgi Tomasson's The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Nutcracker; Benjamin Millipied's Chairman Dances; Justin Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, In The Countenance of Kings, and the world premiere of Hurry up, We're Dreaming; Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein and Fearful Symmetries, and Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella.

Before joining The Joffrey Ballet in 2020, Kessler danced with the Cincinnati Ballet. While there, his repertoire included Septime Webre's Wizard of Oz and the role of "Benno" in Kirk Petterson's Swan Lake. After joining the Joffrey during the pandemic, Kessler performed in the virtual showing of Yoshihisa Arai's Boléro.

Yuchan Kim

Yuchan Kim was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. After training at Sunhwa Arts Middle School and Universal Ballet Junior company from 2014 to 2017, he studied ballet on full scholarship at Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. and graduated with honors in June 2019. That same year, he joined Joffrey Ballet Studio Company for two seasons. Kim has performed with The Joffrey Ballet, Joffrey Studio Company, and Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC including roles in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Ocean and Pearls and Who Cares?. Kim has received awards from various international competitions including Korea's Seoul International Ballet Competition and International Ballet Competition (IBC). Kim was the semi-finalist in Switzerland's Prix de Lausanne and at Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) semi-finals in Korea, he received first place in both classical and contemporary divisions in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, Kim received the Grand Prix award at the YAGP semi-finals in Chicago and won first place at the YAGP finals in Tampa. Kim has also received recognition as a choreographer, receiving the first place in IBC (Korea, 2018), YAGP (Korea, 2018 and 2019) and YAGP (Chicago, 2021). Kim was one of the selected choreographers for Young Moves Student Choreography Project in 2020 while he was a member of Joffrey Studio Company.

Miranda Silveira

Miranda Silveira was born in São Goncalo, Brazil, and grew up in Barcelona, Spain. From an early age, she enrolled in Hip Hop, Jazz, Modern, and Ballet and at age twelve, she was accepted at the Theatre Institute for Dance in Barcelona, Spain and shortly after, moved to Madrid to continue her dance studies at the Royal Conservatory of Dance Mariemma. Mentored by Marisa Martinez and Rosa Naranjo Silveira won first place at the XIII International Dance Competition Ribarroja Del Turia (Valencia). In 2011, Lola de Avila, director of the San Franciso Ballet School, offered sixteen-year-old Silveira a full scholarship to join the school. A year later, Silveira joined the pre-professional program directed by Patrick Armand, and soon after in 2013, she joined the San Franciso Ballet, where she worked for seven years of her professional dancing career. With the San Franciso Ballet, Silveira performed many works by featured artists, such as: George Balanchine's Diamonds, The Four Temperaments, Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, Theme and Variations, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Scotch Symphony, Divertimento No. 15, and Jewels; Val Caniparoli's Lambarena (soloist); Cathy Marston's Snowblind, Mark Morris's Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, Maelstrom, and Sand Paper Ballet (soloist); Justin Peck's In the Countenance of Kings, and Hurry Up We're Dreaming; Arthur Pita's Bjork Ballet; Yuri Possokhov's Margittomania, and Swimmer; Alexei Ratmansky's Shostakovich Trilogy (Symphony #9 as soloist, Piano Concerto #1); Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces, and Opus 19 The Dreamer; Liam Scarlett's Fearful Symmetries, Frankenstein, and Hummingbird; Myles Thatcher's Stone and Steel, and Manifesto; Helgi Tomasson's Nutcracker (Snow Queen 2020), Caprice, Swan Lake, and Trio; Tomasson's / Possokhov's Don Quixote (Kitri's Friends); Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella, and Within the Golden Hour. (full credits a joffrey.org)

In January 2021, Silveira relocated to Spain while dancing at Compañía Nacional de Danza directed by Joaquín de Luz. She performed in Antonio Ruz's In Paradisum, and danced the lead role in Pino Alosa's, Mar Aguiló's, and Joaquín De Luz's Arriaga. After years of admiration for The Joffrey Ballet, Silveira joins the company's 2021-2022 season.

The Joffrey Ballet launches its 2021-22 season with Home: a Celebration, a triumphant mixed rep program that includes Gerald Arpino's Birthday Variations, Joffrey's 2020 Winning Works choreographer Chanel DaSilva's Swing Low, Joffrey Rehearsal Director Nicolas Blanc's Under the Trees' Voices and Joffrey Company Artist Yoshihisa Arai's Boléro.

Christopher Wheeldon's reimagined The Nutcracker (December 4-26, 2021) is followed by the remount of Yuri Possokhov's Don Quixote (February 16-27, 2022).

The Joffrey concludes its season with a spring program (April 27-May 8, 2022) that features the Joffrey premiere of George Balanchine's Serenade, and the world premiere of Cathy Marston's Of Mice and Men.


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