Pennsylvania Ballet Welcomes Five New Company Members

Pennsylvania Ballet Artistic Director Angel Corella has announced the roster for the 2017/2018 Season with the additions of Corps de Ballet member Zecheng Liang, and new Apprentices Federico D’Ortenzi, Erin O’Dea, Taro Kurachi, and Cassidy McAndrew (previous member of Pennsylvania Ballet II). Additionally, Pennsylvania Ballet II (PBII) welcomes Tanner Bleck, Santiago Paniagua Garzon, Flavia Morante, Alana Morgenstern, Courtney Nitting, Beau Chesivoir, and The School of Pennsylvania Ballet trainees Katherine Capristo, Kellie Fulton, and Jimmy Shughart.

“I’m excited about the dancers joining the Company, and proud to be adding artists from such diverse backgrounds. It is also wonderful to be able to move dancers up from the second company (PBII) and the School,” said Angel Corella. “The advancement of those within our school and the company has been one of my goals as Artistic Director.”

Corps de Ballet

Zecheng Liangfrom Jimo, China, received his ballet training at the Guangzhou Art School, which he attended from 2004 to 2010. He then continued his instruction with Houston Ballet II from June 2010 to June 2012, supplementing his studies at summer intensives (on full scholarship) with Houston Ballet in 2010 and 2011. Throughout his training, Zecheng competed in several competitions, including the 3rd Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition, where he won a gold medal in 2015. He was also a 2010 finalist in the Prix de Lausanne and placed 2nd and 3rd (classical) in the 2008 Beijing International and 2009 Tao Li Bei competitions respectively.

Prior to joining Pennsylvania Ballet, Zecheng danced with Houston Ballet, which he joined in 2012 as a member of the corps de ballet and danced in productions that included Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty (Bluebird), William Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated, Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax, Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929, Stanton Welch’s Divergence and Clear, and the role of Gopak in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker.


Originally from Rome, Federico D’Ortenzi began studying dance at age six. In 2005, he joined the School of Opera Di Roma, where he performed in The Nutcracker (with Carla Fracci), Trittico 900PinocchioSleeping Beauty, and Carmen. In 2009, he was awarded the Scala Di Milano scholarship and performed as a soloist in Death in VeniceRaymondaSerenade, and Gaîté Parisienne at La Scala in Milan. In 2013 and 2014, Federico was invited by Artistic Director Franco De Vita to attend the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School summer intensive on full scholarship and also had the opportunity to perform the role of Prince as an ABT guest student for the De Dutch Don’t Dance Division’s production of The Nutcracker in the Netherlands.

In 2014, Federico graduated from the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, where he studied under the direction of Franco De Vita, Raymond Lukens, and teachers Francois Perraut, Martine van Hamel, and Lupe Serrano. He also received additional instruction under Pablo Moret, Alessandro Molin, Ofelia Gonzalez, Denys Ganio, Maurizio Vanadia, and Bella Ratchinskaja.

Prior to joining the company, Federico danced with the Washington Ballet Studio Company, where he danced in several ballets, including The NutcrackerSwan Lake, and Theme and Variations. He also performed soloist roles in works such asJuanita y Alicia and Septime Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland). Additionally, Federico had been invited by the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to perform choreography by Mimmo Miccolis.

Taro Kurachi from Fukuoka, Japan, received his ballet training at the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp, which he attended from 2013 to 2014. He then continued his instruction at the Royal Ballet School 2014 Summer Intensive in London, the John Cranko School from 2014-2016, and at the Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program under the direction of Edward Ellison. Throughout his training, Taro competed in several competitions, including the Tanzolymp Ballet Competition in Berlin, Germany, where he won 1st prize, and the Youth American Grand Prix Finals in New York City in 2017, where he won 1st Prize.

Prior to joining the company, Taro has performed excerpts from the following works: Don Quixote Act 3, La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty Act 3, Flames of Paris Grand Pas de Deux, Coppelia Act 3, Le Corsaire, Paquita Pas de Trois, Blue Bird Grand Pas de Deux, and Nutcracker Grand Pas de Deux.

Cassidy McAndrew began her training at age five in Stamford, CT. She was first cast in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® in 2003 and danced the role of Marie in 2006 and 2007. In 2009, Cassidy performed in American Ballet Theatre’s production of Le Corsaire, and, at age 11, began training at Ballet Academy East in New York City under the direction of Darla Hoover. While there, Cassidy had the opportunity to perform principal roles in ballets choreographed by Margo Sappington, Alan Hineline, Matthew Neenan, and Jenna Lavin.

Cassidy joined Pennsylvania Ballet II for the 2016/2017 season and has performed with the company in Ben Stevenson’s CinderellaGeorge Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, and Angel Corella’s Le Corsaire.

Prior to Pennsylvania Ballet, she was an apprentice with Charlotte Ballet, where Patricia McBride mentored her for the principal role in George Balanchine’s Tarantella. She also performed George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie, along with original works by David Morse and Mark Diamond, and the roles of Snow and Flowers in Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s Nutcracker.

From San Clemente, CA, Erin O’Dea began her ballet studies at age 10, training with several schools throughout her hometown region. In 2009, Erin attended Pacific Northwest Ballet’s summer course, followed by Boston Ballet School’s Summer Dance Program from 2010 to 2012. She joined Boston Ballet School in 2011, becoming a trainee and recipient of the Pao Scholarship (2013 to 2015), and, in 2013, represented the company as an exchange student at Canada’s National Ballet School. As a Boston Ballet trainee, Erin was afforded the opportunity to perform in several productions with the company—an organization that has inspired her from her earliest days as a dancer.

Prior to Pennsylvania Ballet, she danced with Boston Ballet II, which she joined in 2015. In her first year, Erin performed the soloist role of Spanish in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker. She also performed the principal role of Medora in Le Corsaireand had the opportunity to work with such noted choreographers as John Neumeier, Jorma Elo, and Viktor Plotnikov.


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