A Retiring Reverie

Post by Principal Dancer Deanna Seay


As a ballet student, you never think that the day will actually come when your career as a dancer might become a thing of the past. Caught up with the rigorous challenges of training, you are more anxiously conscious of wanting your career to begin. Then, you find yourself in a company, dancing every night, waking early to take class and rehearse, and time goes by. In the middle of it all, another ten years seem to be so much time to enjoy what you love to do, and with all the work to accomplish- the ballets to learn, the performances to prepare for, the endless strings of Nutcrackers, it doesn’t seem possible as you dance through your twenties and into your thirties that a career could ever end. Suddenly, though, the day comes when you realize it is time to move on, and you are left with years of memories, and the realization that time and careers do pass.

This is where I find myself at this moment, part way through my twenty-first season here with Miami City Ballet. I decided, a few months ago, that I would retire from the stage at the end of this season. I have spent the dancer’s equivalent of a lifetime here; indeed, I feel that, here, as an artist, I was “born,” grew up, matured, and am now facing what feels like the death of my life as a ballet dancer. Somewhere I read that dancers experience two deaths: the “death” of their careers and then their true death – and now I understand. Maybe death is a strong word, but for me, it acknowledges the completion of a journey and the chance to move on.

What can I say after two decades of dance? I have had an amazing time. I have been lucky to enjoy the career I have had- I am not sure it would have been this way anywhere else. I have been allowed to dance to the divine strains of Tchaikovsky more than my fair share, I think, as well as those of Stravinsky, Mozart, Delibes, Prokofiev, Ravel, Faure, Chopin and countless others. The music that moves our souls- I was granted the chance to dance to that- to live- to exist.

All of the ballets I will dance this year hold special meaning for me, and to be able to visit them again before I leave the stage is a special gift. And so I am looking forward to a season of little private moments of goodbye. Dancing my last performances of Company B and Allegro Brillante during the Kravis weekend, words such as,”…and this is the last time…” would float through my head, and the lump in my throat would start to swell. Each moment became a private goodbye to that part of my on-stage world. Bittersweet though it is, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Deanna Seay in “Diamonds”. Photo by Steven Caras