Julie Kent has danced with American Ballet Theatre for 30 years. That's an impressive career in any context, but it's especially impressive in the world of ballet, where dancers are subject to the whims of their fabulous but frequently fickle bodies.
And Kent isn't just any ballerina. For a whole generation of dancers and dance lovers, she's the ballerina. Who didn't grow up idolizing her? She's Kathleen Donahue from Center Stage. She's the star of that glorious production of Le Corsaire that used to air on PBS every five minutes. If you've been lucky enough to see her live, you know that she's even more luminous onstage than she is onscreen; her willowy frame and beautiful face are made for the spotlight.
Kent will take her final bow with ABT tomorrow night, dancing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (oh, lord, get those tissues ready) at NYC's Metropolitan Opera House. To help us brace ourselves for that blow, Vanity Fair just published "4 Lessons Learned from a Prima Ballerina," in which Kent shares some of the considerable wisdom she's acquired over the course of her career. One of the highlights is a poetic "merde" note from legend Natalia Makarova—"Someone once said that beauty could save the world. What a great responsibility you have"—that has become a kind of career philosophy for Kent.
There's also this incredible drawing of Kent wearing a dress composed of all the ballets she's performed:
By Michael Arthur, based on a photograph by Roy Round
Click here to read the whole story. And while Kent's farewell performance is, naturally, sold out, the magical internet does have several clips of her dancing Romeo and Juliet. I'd suggest watching the video below—of Kent and Roberto Bolle in the iconic balcony pas de deux—around 9 pm tomorrow, when Kent will actually be dancing it, one last time, at the Met.