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BOSTON, MA – May 19, 2011 – Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announced today that principal dancer Larissa Ponomarenko has been appointed Ballet Master for Boston Ballet. She has decided to retire from the stage after 18 illustrious years with Boston Ballet. Ponomarenko joined Boston Ballet in 1993 and has since become an icon both on and off stage.

“I have had an amazing career with Boston Ballet,” said Ponomarenko. “Looking back, I’d like to thank all of the amazing people I have worked with – the directors, coaches, mentors, my beautiful partners, the pianists, and my colleagues. The music, a small movement of the hand, a great performance – all of these moments, large and small, have inspired me. There is nothing that can substitute dance. It is an incredible profession. But, I am looking forward to being able to share all that I’ve experienced and learned, and try to inspire as much as I’ve been inspired.”

Over her 18 years with Boston Ballet, Ponomarenko has wowed audiences in the vast and versatile roles of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the title roles in Giselle and Cinderella, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Nikia in La Bayadére, and countless other roles. Ponomarenko has also performed a wide repertoire of Balanchine works including Symphony in C, Who Cares?, The Four Temperaments, Diamonds, Divertimento No. 15, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Serenade. She has danced works by John Cranko, Antony Tudor, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, and Twyla Tharp, among many others. Over the years, Ponomarenko has worked closely with Boston Ballet Resident Choreographer Jorma Elo and has served as a muse for almost all of his ballets. She has also created roles in original works including Rhyme, choreographed for her by her husband, Viktor Plotnikov. Every year, she has performed for thousands of audience members as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker.

“Larissa is truly a beacon both on and off stage,” said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. “It’s not often you find an artist and an individual of her caliber. She has been an example within the company for many years through her artistry, hard work, kindness and individuality. I am thrilled to have her remain with Boston Ballet and grow into the new role of Ballet Master.”

“The entire company and organization is extremely excited that Larissa is joining the artistic staff,” continued Nissinen. “Her incredible experience and knowledge, including her early Russian training, her major international career, and her expertise in academic, classical ballet will benefit today’s dancers and future generations immeasurably. This shift is also bittersweet, as it means one of the most beloved dancers in Boston Ballet’s history will retire from the stage.” 

Ponomarenko, of Odessa, Ukraine, is a graduate of Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersberg. She danced with Donetsk Ballet in Ukraine, Mississippi Ballet and Tulsa Ballet before joining Boston Ballet. Ponomarenko has appeared internationally in galas and festivals and as a guest artist with English National Ballet in London, NBA Ballet Company in Tokyo, Opera Theatre of Rome, and Teatro Comunale of Florence in Italy. She was nominated for Benois de la Danse award in 2005 and is a recipient of the E. Virginia Williams Inspirational Award. Her position as principal dancer has been funded by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. John W. Humphrey.

Ponomarenko will remain with Boston Ballet, transitioning into the role of Ballet Master starting with the 2011-2012 season. She will work with Boston Ballet company dancers teaching class, staging ballets and coaching.

Online image gallery of Larissa Ponomarenko on stage  |   Larissa Ponomarenko’s full biography

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