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Stella Abrera to Retire from American Ballet Theatre in June

Stella Abrera in Le Corsaire. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre announced today that, after 24 years, beloved principal dancer Stella Abrera will retire from the stage this coming summer. Her farewell performance will be June 13, 2020, at the Metropolitan Opera House, dancing the title role in Giselle.


Giselle holds special significance for her. In 2015, Abrera, then a 37-year-old soloist, made a triumphant debut in the title role, stepping in for an injured dancer at the last minute. (She herself had been slated to dance Giselle seven years earlier, but a debilitating injury sidelined her. It took years for her to fully recover.) Shortly after her performance, and after 14 years as a soloist, Abrera was made a principal dancer. "At my age and with the amount of time I had been out I didn't think it was going to happen," she told Pointe in 2016. "I thought, My career is going to be over soon, I'd better just go for broke whenever I go out onstage."

Since then she's more than made up for lost time in debuts including Aurora, Juliet, Cinderella, Terpsichore in Balanchine's Apollo and Princess Tea Flower in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. The Filipino-American dancer has also spent plenty of time giving back: She founded Steps Forward for the Phillippines in 2014 to benefit victims of Hurricane Haiyan, and in 2018 directed a benefit gala in Manila to raise money for the Stella Abrera Dance and Music Hall at CENTEX (Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education). She is also the director of Pro Studio/Stella Abrera®, a new training and coaching initiative for professional dancers at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park.

There's no news yet of what Abrera's next step will be. But in addition to her farewell performance on June 13, audiences can catch her this Tuesday at New York Koch Theater in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons, as well as in performances of Giselle on tour with ABT in Washington, DC (February 15) and Durham, North Carolina (March 28).

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

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From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

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"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

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