The Joffrey Ballet’s Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director and Greg Cameron, President and CEO have announced 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 in September 2020, one month before the company announced the cancellation of all the remaining performances for the 2020-2021 season. Since joining, he has performed with the company as part of the virtual premiere of Boléro, which will have its stage debut aannouned thes 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.”
Maryland native Brian Bennett began his ballet training in high school at Baltimore School for the Arts under the direction of Norma Pera. 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 is a native of 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, including George Balanchine’s Rubies, Diamonds and Theme and Variation; Helgi Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty; Benjamin Millipied’s Chairman Dances; Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, among many other works. Kessler as also danced with the Cincinnati Ballet.
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 and La Bayadere. Kim has received awards from various international competitions including Korea’s Seoul International Ballet Competition and International Ballet Competition (IBC). In addition to numerous awards for dance, 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 hails from São Goncalo, Brazil, and grew up in Barcelona, Spain. She received her early training at the Royal Conservatory of Dance Mariemma in Madrid. Mentored by Marisa Martinez and Rosa Naranjo, Silveira won first place at the XIII International Dance Competition Ribarroja Del Turia (Valencia). 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 and Stravinsky Violin Concerto; Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena (soloist); and Cathy Marston’s Snowblind.
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.