Stella Abrera joins Misty Copeland as principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre

Stella Abrera performs  Twyla Tharp’s ‘Baker’s Dozen.’ Photo:  ABT

Stella Abrera performs Twyla Tharp’s ‘Baker’s Dozen.’ Photo: ABT

Dancers of color pave the way at American Ballet Theatre.

Dancers of color pave the way at American Ballet Theatre.

Filipino American Stella Abrera joins Misty Copeland in making dance history. Both have been promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in New York.

Also joining the company is FilAm Jeffrey Cirio. The principal dancer with Boston Ballet, will join ABT as a Soloist, it was announced June 30 by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. The promotions are effective August 1, 2015.

“I’m overjoyed. There’s no other word for it,” Stella told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m still kind of shocked about it all.”

The Philippine-born Stella has performed as a guest artist across the United States and Europe, as well as with The Australian Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and Ballet Philippines. She is from South Pasadena, California.

She began dance studies with Philip and Charles Fuller and Cynthia Young at Le Studio in Pasadena and with Lorna Diamond and Patricia Hoffman at the West Coast Ballet Theatre in San Diego. She also studied the Royal Academy of Dancing method at the Halliday Dance Centre in Sydney, Australia.

She joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 1996 and was appointed a Soloist in 2001. Her repertoire with ABT included Calliope in Apollo, Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, the Fairy Godmother in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Mercedes and the Driad Queen in Don Quixote, among numerous leading roles.

She received the Gold Medal at the Royal Academy of Dancing’s Adeline Genée Awards in London in 1995.

Jeffrey Cirio began his ballet training at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. He became a trainee with Boston Ballet School and joined Boston Ballet II for the 2007-2008 season.

He continued his training at Orlando Ballet School and returned to Boston Ballet in 2009 as a member of the corps de ballet. He was appointed principal dancer with Boston Ballet in 2012. Jeffrey’s repertory with Boston Ballet included Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty, The Prince in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, the Bronze Idol and Solor in La Bayadère, and Oberon and Puck in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

He won a Gold Medal at Youth America Grand Prix in 2005, a Princess Grace Fellowship and a Gold Medal at the Helskini International Ballet Competition in 2009.

The Boston Globe reports that fans will be “disappointed” to learn that two of Boston Ballet’s principal dancers – one of them Jeffery — are leaving the company.

“Cirio, who joins New York’s renowned American Ballet Theatre as a soloist next season, worked his way through the ranks at Boston Ballet to become its youngest-ever principal dancer in 2012 and has been one of the company’s most gifted male leads,” writes the Boston Globe. He has a sister Lia who continues to be a lead dancer at Boston Ballet.

“I am super-excited for Stella, that a Filipina American has been made a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre,” said Jeff in a statement to The FilAm. “It is well-deserved. I am also thrilled to be joining the company and look forward to a new chapter in my life. Although it is sad to leave my family in Boston, and I am grateful for everything I was able to accomplish there, I look forward to the coming challenges at ABT. It is an honor to represent the Filipino community here in NYC.”

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