Keenan Kampa, a member of the Boston Ballet who grew up in Reston, is joining the Mariinsky Ballet. The esteemed Russian company is expected to announce her appointment during its appearances at the Kennedy Center this week.
This month’s issue of Dance Magazine named Kampa one of “25 to Watch” in 2012.
Kampa, 22, was the first American to receive the Russian diploma from the Vaganova Ballet Academy. The 274-year-old school has trained many notables in the classical ballet world, including George Balanchine, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova.
The invitation from the Mariinsky came last summer when Kampa was in St. Petersburg. “I went there to visit. I wasn’t thinking I could audition. I was rehearsing a pas de deux and the director came in and watched,” said Kampa, during a break Wednesday in her rehearsals in Boston.
In Russia, she said, she learned to appreciate the hard work and the response from the audience. “It’s the whole atmosphere over there. The culture is so involved with the arts. The audience knows what they are watching and they respect the work. The teachers are exacting. It is the most exciting place to be for ballet,” said Kampa.
In 2007, during a master class program at the Kennedy Center, she was offered the opportunity to train at the Vaganova’s rigorous academy. Kampa trained there for three years. She joins the Mariinsky in June.
Growing up, Kampa trained at the Conservatory Ballet in Reston, directed by Julia Cziller Redick. For her academic studies, she was home-schooled.
She earned attention early, winning a gold medal at the National Youth Ballet Competition in 2006.
Kampa joined the Boston Ballet in 2010. This spring, she will dance the role of the Queen of the Dryads in “Don Quixote” at the Boston Opera House.
In Dance Magazine, she was described as “a stunning paradox of star quality. At 5’8” the lithe beauty moves with the efficiency of a ballerina far shorter. And within her delicate, angelic presence lies an edginess and attack — an intrigue worthy of Mona Lisa — that makes her irresistible to watch.”