Julie Kent Retires from American Ballet Theatre

Kent in The Leaves Are Fading

The ballet times, they are a-changing. Over the weekend, Julie Kent gave her final performance with American Ballet Theatre. Handpicked as a 16-year-old by Baryshnikov himself, she entranced audiences for three decades with her serene beauty. Now, the willowy prima is stepping down.

She offered some interesting insight in The New York Times about the challenge of deciding when to leave: “So many of my colleagues were like, ‘Oh, you’ll know,’” she said. But, she explains, the longer she danced—20 years, 25 years—the harder it became to think of saying good-bye. She said she eventually spoke to artistic director Kevin McKenzie and told him, candidly, “This is giving me a lot of anxiety. I’m just going to have to trust that you’re going to help me with this.”

On Saturday, she performed in Romeo and Juliet for the last time, and fans and fellow dancers poured out their support via social media. Kent has some upcoming performances scheduled, she says, but she also hints that she’d like to spend more time with her children. And who can blame her for that?

Sometimes, it seems like everyone I looked up to as a young dancer is on their way out. I have to remind myself that on their heels is a talented and increasingly diverse generation of unique performers, ready for their turn in the spotlight. And besides, dancers like Julie Kent will never truly be gone.

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of ABT

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