Birmingham Royal Ballet Announces Promotions, Joining and Departing Company members for 2021

As the 2020/21 season comes to a close, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Director Carlos Acosta announces the dancers who will be promoted and those joining and departing the Company this year.

Haoliang Feng from Artist to First Artist

Yu Kurihara from Artist to Soloist

Gus Payne from Artist to First Artist

Rachele Pizzillo from Artist to First Artist

The following dancers join the Company:

Eric Pinto-Cata, graduate of The Royal Ballet School, will join as an Artist

Amelia Thompson, graduate of Elmhurst Ballet School, will join as an Artist

Enrique Bejarano, National Ballet of Cuba School and Academie de Danse de Princess Grace, will join as an Artist

Regan Hutsell, from Festival Ballet Providence, will join as an Artist 

Javier Rojas, National Ballet of Cuba School, formerly of Acosta Danza, joined as an Artist in January 2021

We also pay tribute to the following longstanding members of the team who have
retired from performing or left the Company during the 2020/21 season:

Denis Bonner, Benesh Choreologist and Répétiteur
Denis Bonner joined Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet as a dancer in 1976, dancing a wide variety of roles and was particularly outstanding in character work. Denis remained with the Company through its transition to Birmingham Royal Ballet, notably supporting Sir Peter Wright with the creation Coppélia, and has been an indispensable member of the Company’s artistic staff, rehearsing and notating countless ballets, and restaging them around the world, over his accomplished career.

Wolfgang Stollwitzer, Ballet Master
Wolfgang was a principal dancer with Stuttgart Ballet before joining Birmingham Royal Ballet as a Principal in 1996. He was an immensely strong dance-actor, shining in roles such as Edward in David Bintley’s Edward II and Sgt Francis Troy in Far from the Madding Crowd, both of which he created. Wolfgang was a superb partner and since being appointed Ballet Master at Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2008, shared his experience and skill with all the dancers that have had the pleasure of working with him.

Tom Rogers, Soloist
Tom Rogers has retired from dancing after 17 years with Birmingham Royal Ballet. In his long and successful career Tom’s varied repertory includes Paris in Romeo and Juliet, The Prince in The Nutcracker, Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs and many roles in David Bintley’s ballets including The Prince of the Pagodas, The Shakespeare Suite, Edward II and Aladdin, culminating in the leading role in Will Tuckett's Lazuli Sky in October 2020.

Tom will continue working with Birmingham Royal Ballet in a new role as Digital Creative Producer, helping to build the Company’s digital film-making capacity. Tom created the highly regarded Nutcracker at 30 and Marion Tait celebration films which accompanied the Company’s successful first-ever live-streamed performance of The Nutcracker in December 2020.

Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta CBE, comments: ‘Announcing promotions is always a special moment and I am delighted to announce several promotions this year in the Company, Artist Yu Kurihara to Soloist and Artists Haoliang Feng, Gus Payne and Rachelle Pizzillo to First Artist.

Over the past year our dancers have worked extremely hard in what were at times challenging circumstances, and I am proud and excited to see where the next year will take us.

I am also pleased to announce the new dancers that will be joining our Company from September. I wish them all the best as they begin their careers with Birmingham Royal Ballet.

We are delighted to welcome Eric Pinto-Cata, a graduate from our sister organisation, The Royal Ballet School. Our historic affiliation with The Royal Ballet School grows stronger with time - some 60% of our current dancers are alumni of the School. We take great pride in being a 'Royal' company alongside The Royal Ballet School and The Royal Ballet.

We also welcome Enrique Bejarano, graduate of the Academi De Danse Princess Grace, and Regan Hutsell, from Festival Ballet Providence.

Closer to home, we congratulate Amelia Thompson from our associate school, Elmhurst Ballet School as she joins the Company as an Artist after an impressive performance as the Snow Fairy in last year's Nutcracker at The REP.

We also give thanks for the contribution made by those who have left the Company this year.

I’m pleased that Tom Rogers who has been with the Company since graduating from The Royal Ballet School and was made Soloist in 2012, will continue to work with us as Creative Digital Producer. This is a new role for the Company that will strengthen our digital presence moving forward.

After 25 years with us, Ballet Master Wolfgang Stollwitzer left the Company earlier this year. Joining as a Principal dancer, Wolfgang went on to become one of our Ballet Masters and has been an invaluable part of the ballet staff here at Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Denis Bonner, Benesh Choreologist and Répétiteur, also departed the Company earlier this year. Denis has had a long and varied career with the Company having joined Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet as a dancer in 1976, and went on to become a key member of our artistic team helping bring our repertoire from the rehearsal room to the stage.

We wish Wolfgang and Denis well in their future ventures as they extend the spread of our international family of alumni. Finally thank you to the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and our brilliant backstage team for their hard work and dedication this past year, helping to make Birmingham Royal Ballet such an extraordinary place to work and perform.’


For more information, please contact
Lauren Morton: or 07841460354


Birmingham Royal Ballet

Based at Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Royal Ballet is the United Kingdom’s leading touring ballet company performing a range of traditional, classical and heritage ballets as well as ground-breaking new works with the aim of encouraging choreographers of the future.

The Company’s Director since January 2020 is the internationally renowned Carlos Acosta.

Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Birmingham Hippodrome for approximately ten weeks of the year and the remainder of the year tours throughout the United Kingdom and overseas. On average, the Company performs 175 shows a year nationally and internationally.