Career Advice

Say Goodbye as Your Favorite Dancers Take Their Final Bows

Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta took their final curtain call on June 9, 2019. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB

We all know dance careers are temporary. But this season, it feels like we're saying goodbye to more stars than usual.

Many have turned to social media to share their last curtain calls, thoughts on what it feels like to say farewell to performing, and insights into the ways that dancing has made them who they are. After years of dedicating your life to the studio and stage, the decision to stop dancing is always an emotional one. Each dancer handles it in their own way—whether that means cheekily admitting to having an existential crisis, or simply leaving with no regrets about what you did for love.

We will miss these dancers' performances, but can't wait to see what awaits each in their next chapters.


Michael Trusnovec retired from Paul Taylor Dance Company

Taylor star (and Dance Magazine Award honoree) Michael Trusnovec was the first of many longtime dancers to retire from Paul Taylor Dance Company this season. Following Taylor's death last year, Parisa Khobdeh, Laura Halzack, Jamie Rae Walker, Sean Mahoney and Michelle Fleet have all decided to step down in order to pursue other paths, whether that's dancing across the pond, starting a family or running an alpaca ranch (yes, really).

Kathleen Breen Combes retired from Boston Ballet

We've been enchanted by Kathleen Breen Combes' stage presence since we put her on our cover in 2007. This year, she made the surprising decision to take on the role of executive director at Festival Ballet of Providence.

Roberto Bolle gave his last performance with American Ballet Theatre 

Roberto Bolle is leaving American Ballet Theatre, but he will continue to perform with La Scala, where he's a guest, and in the concerts he produces in Italy. Although we will miss him in New York, he will live on forever in our hearts as the man who gave us this quote:

"I don't lift weights; I just lift beautiful women."

Julia Erickson retired from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre 

Julia Erickson may have become most well-known across the country for creating her Barre–A Real Food Bar energy snacks. In Pittsburgh, she was a leading light at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for the past decade before giving her final bow at the start of this season.

Hayna Gutierrez retired from Alberta Ballet

Cuban-born Hanya Gutierrez spent nine years at Alberta Ballet, where she met her husband and became a mentor to many of the younger dancers. She plans to continue guesting, and hopes to start teaching to pass her passion along to the next generation.

Nehemiah Kish retired from The Royal Ballet

Before his nine-year run as a principal at The Royal Ballet, Michigan-born Nehemiah Kish was also a principal at National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Danish Ballet. According to The Independent, he plans to study arts and cultural policy at Goldsmiths, University of London, starting this fall.

Ian Hussey retired from Pennsylvania Ballet

Ian Hussey spent his entire performing career in the Pennsylvania Ballet family, rising from second company member to principal, directing the dancers' annual Shut Up & Dance concert to raise money for victims of HIV/AIDS, and standing out at the company no matter who was in charge.

Xiao Nan Yu retired from National Ballet of Canada

When she hit her 20-year anniversary at National Ballet of Canada, Xiao Nan Yu clued us into her secrets of sustaining a long dance career. Two years later, the beloved principal says in this video that there was never a moment where she felt like she "made it." Instead, she focused on always giving 100 percent of herself every time she stepped on stage.

Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta retired from Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet said goodbye to two of its longtime principals—the spitfire Jonathan Porretta and the powerfully charismatic Rachel Foster, who was the cover girl of our January 2009 "25 to Watch" issue.

Miki Kawamura retired from Oklahoma City Ballet

Oklahoma City Ballet principal Miki Kawamura wrote an emotional post on Instagram to commemorate her last bow at the company, thanking all those who have helped and supported her along the way.

Renato Penteado retired from Miami City Ballet

In 2016, our readers chose Renato Penteado as the Best Male Performance of the year. He tells the interviewer for this video shot by Miami City Ballet that for him, ballet was "love at first sight." We dare you to watch it without tearing up.

Who did we miss? Share your favorite dancers' retirement posts in the comments.

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