Pennsylvania Ballet names artistic director

PARSONS -- Dancer Angel Corella participates in a dress rehearsal of "Caught" at New York University in New York, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2003. In choreographer David Parsons' stunning dance Corella quite literally flew _ thanks to one strobe light, one inventive choreographer, one perfect dancer's body and 90 exhausting jumps. (AP Photo/ Mike Appleton)

The Pennsylvania Ballet has hired a new artistic director: Ángel Corella, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.

The Spanish-born Corella, 38, whose appointment was approved Tuesday by the board, is slated to start part-time in September, then full-time in January. He succeeds Roy Kaiser, who announced his retirement in April and will step down in October.

A ballet spokeswoman said Corella was not available for an interview.

Corella, who was born in Madrid, joined ABT in 1995 and was promoted to principal a year later. He retired from the company in 2012 and, for six years, partially concurrent with the end of his ABT career, was director of the Corella Ballet Castilla y León, which became Barcelona Ballet and has now folded. He has also appeared as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet in London, Kirov Ballet, and New York City Ballet.

As a dancer, he earned early praise from critics. In 2002, a New York Times critic wrote of his appearance in Fancy Free: "It was uplift from the start, with acute timing and byplay among the sailors. Mr. Corella barely touched the floor when he pranced, and then gave an extra dimension to the first solo."

Less flattering was a review when Barcelona Ballet visited City Center with a program by various choreographers in 2012. Wrote a Times critic: "Mr. Corella, in dropping his name from the company title, would rather ride the energy of a city and let the dancing do the talking. At the moment, his company needs more to say."

David Gray, interim executive director of Pennsylvania Ballet, said that in Philadelphia, where Corella was expected to live, he would be more of a curator than a choreographer.

"I think he has a really great vision for this company being one of the most important companies in the country, and has some very intriguing experience with choreographers seldom seen on this side of the Atlantic, whom he would like to bring over and have their works seen," said Gray. "But then, he has experience as a dancer. We have this Balanchine tradition, and I think he loves and admires those works, but also understands the value of new choreography. He is not looking to change the company in ways in which it becomes unrecognizable, nor is he looking for it to become a museum."

According to the Pennsylvania Ballet, the search, assisted by arts consultant and outgoing Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser, reviewed 30 candidates for the job, holding in-depth interviews with seven.

Gray, who declined to reveal Corella's salary, said the ballet's contract with him would run three years.