News: In surprise move, Jessica Assef is leaving Atlanta Ballet for personal reasons

Dancer Jessica Assef is leaving Atlanta Ballet for personal reasons, effective immediately, ArtsATL learned today. Assef had been cast as the Sylph in one of the company’s upcoming performances of La Sylphide (September 15-17), a role that will now be danced by Emily Carrico (Friday and Saturday evening) and Airi Igarashi (Saturday and Sunday afternoon.)

“Jessica has graced our stages for the past six years in lead roles from Marie in The Nutcracker to Kitri in Don Quixote, the Firebird and Giselle,” said Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin in a statement. “Her artistry and grace will be missed.”

Assef with Nedak in Atlanta Ballet’s 2022 production of “Firebird.” (Photo by Kim Kenney)

ArtsATL dance critic Cynthia Bond Perry reviewed Assef’s performance in the company’s 2022 production of Giselle. “Assef interpreted Giselle’s mad scene with clearly etched accuracy, offering shades of the character’s fragility, heartbreak and despair,” Perry wrote. “With her slip of a figure and lithe-limbed technique, she was an apt Wili. She dove into adagio lifts with exacting precision.”

Originally from São Carlos, Brazil, Assef joined Atlanta Ballet in 2017. At the 2010 Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP), she was awarded full scholarships to Orlando Ballet School and the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco. That same year, she won the gold medal at the Passo de Arte competition in Brazil. In 2013, she won a silver medal at the YAGP semifinals and a gold medal at the YAGP New York City finals. Assef spent two years at Orlando Ballet School as a trainee before becoming a member of its second company in 2013. She joined Orlando Ballet in 2014.

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