The Joffrey Ballet Welcomes Nine New Dancers to the Company
With diverse backgrounds and experiences, new dancers represent six different countries
CHICAGO (September 22, 2022) – 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 nine dancers to the Joffrey roster. Coco Alvarez-Mena (Miami, Florida), Wictor Hugo Pedroso (Uberlândia, Brazil), Nae Kojima (Gold Coast, Australia), Zachary Manske (St. Paul, Minnesota), Anabelle de la Nuez (Cincinnati, Ohio), Davide Oldano (Turin, Italy), Sergei Osminkin (St. Petersburg, Russia), Basia Rhoden (Fresno, California), and Natali Taht (Tallinn, Estonia).
Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of the Joffrey says “As we prepare to launch our 2022-23 season with a world premiere by choreographer Chanel DaSilva in Beyond Borders, followed by our second collaboration with Chicago Symphony Orchestra this fall and the largest Joffrey production to date this spring with The Little Mermaid, we are pleased to welcome new dancers Coco, Wictor, Nae, Zach, Annabelle, Davide, Sergei, Basia, and Natali to the Joffrey, and are proud to see Nae and Davide, graduates of the Trainee program at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, elevated the Company.”
“The Joffrey and Chicago continue to be a preferred destination for talented artists from around the world,” says Greg Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer. “The Joffrey Artists are the foundation of The Joffrey Ballet, and we warmly welcome our new Company Artists who now join a legacy of excellence.”
About the New Dancers
Coco Alvarez-Mena: Originally from Miami, Florida, Alvarez-Mena is proud to be a first-generation Cuban American. She began her training at Dance Town Dance Studios under Maria Eugenia Lorenzo and Manny and Lory Castro. She then attended The Harid Conservatory for pre-professional Vaganova ballet training and was awarded the Cerrone Award for excellence in dance performance. Alvarez-Mena attended USC’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance where she trained and collaborated choreographically with William Forsythe and Jodie Gates while being mentored by Balanchine répétiteur Zippora Karz. After graduating, she spent three seasons with the Oregon Ballet Theater as a corps de ballet dancer.
Anabelle de la Nuez: Anabelle de la Nuez began her formal training at the age of six, at de la Dance Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, under her parents, Meridith Benson and Mario de la Nuez. At 15, she was promoted to the company where she performed the lead roles in ballets such as Giselle, Coppelia, La Sylphide, Paquita, Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Swan Lake. She participated in YAGP in 2018 and 2019, where she was invited to compete in the New York City finals.
Nae Kojima: Nae Kojima is from the Gold Coast, Australia. She began dancing at the age of five at Amanda Bollinger Dance Academy. At age 16, she moved to the U.S to attend the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. After graduating in 2019, Kojima joined The Joffrey Ballet Studio Company where she performed Fascinatin’ Rhythm from George Balanchine’s Who Cares?, works by Lar Lubovitch, and was also selected to perform in the main company’s The Nutcracker by Christopher Wheeldon. Later that year, she joined Atlanta Ballet’s second company, performing in Yuri Possokhov’s Nutcracker, Butterfly Pas in Bruce Well’s Snow White, and Giselle.
Zachary Manske: Zachary Manske grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota training and competing in various styles. He played the role of “Billy Elliot” in the Broadway national tour of Billy Elliot the Musical. Manske attended Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists and guested with Minnesota Dance Theater in many performances. He graduated with a BFA in Dance from the University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufman School of Dance in 2021 and joined the Grand Rapids Ballet as a company dancer for their 2021-2022 season. He also enjoys choreographing and most recently debuted “Shakespeare in Love” at Grand Rapids Ballet’s Jumpstart program in 2022.
Davide Oldano: Italian, raised in England, France and Belgium, Davide Oldano began his training at Danza Arte e Movimento Teatro Nuovo di Torino. He joined the Royal Ballet School’s young dancers’ program and attended their White Lodge year-round program from 2014 to 2019. At age 16, Oldano joined the Joffrey Academy of Dance Conservatory Program and was promoted to the Trainee Program a year later. In 2021, he was promoted to the Studio Company. Oldano performed alongside the main company in The Nutcracker by Christopher Wheeldon and Appalachian Spring by Yoshihisa Arai. He was selected to perform as a soloist in Viva Vivaldi by Gerald Arpino.
Sergei Osminkin: Sergei Osminkin was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and began his education at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. At the age of 18, Osminkin joined the Mariinsky Theatre. Until 2022 he performed numerous roles under the guidance of Sergei Vikuloy including in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Don Quixote. He went on to tour the world as part of their theater troupe.
Wictor Hugo Pedroso: Born in Uberlândia (Minas Gerais), Brazil, Wictor Hugo Pedroso began dancing at nine years old with the Ballet Vórtice under Guiomar Boaventura. At 14, he joined the Princess Grace Academy in Monte-Carlo. After graduating in 2016, he became a member of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in Switzerland, where he danced lead roles in various ballets by Maurice Béjart. He participated in the creation of Dixit a piece written and directed by Marc Hollogne with choreographies by Maurice Béjart and Gil Roman, Eclats by Julio Arozarena, and Tous les hommes presque toujours s'imaginent by Gil Roman.
Basia Rhoden: Basia Rhoden was born and raised in Fresno, California. She participated in competitive ballet, jazz, and contemporary, and at age 14, narrowed her focus to ballet. Rhoden attended Master Ballet Academy in Arizona, run by Slawomir and Irena Wozniak. She was chosen as the only US female Pre-Select representative at Prix De Lausanne 2019. There she was awarded a scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet School where she advanced to the trainee program after her first year. During that time, she danced Corps de Ballet roles with the SFB Company, including Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker and Swan Lake; Yuri Possokhov and Tomasson’s Don Quixote; Ulrik Bournonville’s La Sylphide; and George Balanchine’s Symphony in C.
Natali That: Natali That was born in Tallinn, Estonia, and began her ballet training at Tallinn Ballet School. After winning the 3rd place prize at the Tallinn International Ballet Competition, she received a scholarship to study at the Zurich Dance Academy in Switzerland, under the directorship of Steffi Scherzer and Oliver Matz. During her studies she represented the school at Prix de Lausanne and Tanzolymp Berlin, winning the silver medal. Upon graduation in 2020, she joined Tulsa Ballet II, where she worked with and performed pieces by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Andrew McNicol, Itzik Galili, Val Caniparoli, and others.
Photos by Cheryl Mann.