The last two years have been incredibly busy and I have lost track my diary/blog. The 200 performances in basically a year and a half in over 100 cities was in a word "Exhausting".
Some of the big news is that I decided to officially retire. What this means is that I will not be dancing at the same level as I did, especially in Japan. I might perform for a special show here and there but it is sadly time to put that part of my life behind me. I had two extraordinary events to share with you.
My final Gala Performance in Japan and a guest performance in California at a festival.
The final Gala was set for the Last Day of the Japan "Recipe for Laughter tour 2008". I've seen many retirements and tried to base mine on what I have seen. I have seen some done with great videos and retrospectives and with many dancers performing all the special roles associated with the person retireing and I have also seen versions where basically the retiring ballerina dances everything and people wonder if there is an ambulance waiting for her at the end of the show. I like the second because you really get to see the ballerina slowly deteriorate over the evenings performance and it is an apt comment on a dancer's career.
I opened the evening with a role that I have dancing for 18 years, Odette in Swan Lake Act ll. Although this was not what I consider my first major role, that was Medora in Corsaire, It was a role that was the most important in the Male Comedy Ballet repetoire. It is a role I never tired of and always had challenges for me. I will miss Odette, she was a fun character to play because there was so much room for interpretation and so many technical challenges. For the curtain call I was surprised by Paul Boos, my friend and the ballet master presenting me with a dozen roses on stage. I actually choked up because it was completely unexpected.
The second act opened with Pas De Quatre. It is a ballet that was set with the 4 greatest ballerinas of the time. I thought it was fitting to cast the 4 dancers in Grandiva who have the most seniority. Allen, Oswaldo, Me and Bart. This was Bart's first performance in pas de quatre and the role he performed was also performed by the youngest star of the time. Bart was the youngest of the four of us and his inclusion infused excitement into the ballet for the audience and the cast.
I continued with Spartacus pas with George. This is probably the last duet that my career has been associated with. It was fitting to include this ballet because it represents a huge departure from what Male Comedy Ballet was like 20 years ago. It is a ballet that uniquely represents Grandiva and me personally. This ballet is deceptively difficult. Actually George and I have attempted to teach this ballet to other casts but have not been successful. I have hope that we will be able to pass this ballet to another generation because as a choreographer I think this is one of my best duets.
I closed the second act with The Dying Swan. When I first performed this ballet it was based on the idea that sometimes this short solo is done in its entirety for a curtain call. I first added one extra run of the ballet with a different ballerina and then decided too extend that to two extra ballerinas. When I thought of this idea I thought listening and watching the same rendition 3 times would be too much for the audience so I decided to make the third version, my version, really a slapstick version with a special recording. Just between you and me, I also thought the other dancers doing the role were much more elegant physically and so I thought it would be better for me to concentrate on comedy. From a comedic standpoint I think Dying Swan is probably one of the funniest things in my rep and so I felt I needed to include it.
The evening ended with a special version of Minkus Gala. I wanted to do something different with this ballet since we do it so regularly and we changed all the solos in the middle to give dancers an opportunity to dance either a role that was new to them or one that was associated with them. I also wanted to be able to dance with all my male partners, Tetsushi, Momchil, Oswaldo and George. I did miss dancing with Baris :(, but I couldn't fit anything else in without exhausting myself to the point of injury. I did dance Carmen with Baris on the last regular performance of the season so....for those of you who travelled to see that one thank you. Momchil and I danced Sleeping Beauty, and Oswaldo and I danced Star Spangled Ballerina a ballet that was created for me.
The final curtain calls were a show all by themselves. It was overwhelming for me. The huge numbers of bouquets of flowers and all the tears from the fans (at a comedy show!) were touching and a bit hard to handle for me. The dancers presented me with a diamond ring to remember them and the evening by. I will cherish it and all the years I have danced professionally starting at Ballet Florida in 1983 to my last official performance with Grandiva in 2008