I retired from Oregon Ballet Theatre 13 years ago, on May 2, 2010. Every year at about this time, I think with a degree of incredulity about how time sometimes seems to pass so slowly, sometimes too quickly, and yet in the end, it's always at the perfect pace.
My assignment to write about the two dancers retiring from OBT this year for the company's final Playbill of the season naturally made me reflect on my own last days of dancing and my farewell performance, putting myself in the shoes of Makino Hayashi and Chris Kaiser as I talked to each of them about the why and 'what next?' of this juncture in their lives. Both are retiring because they want to-- thankfully not because of external pressures or life circumstances; the decision to stop performing was made on their own timelines-- and have exciting plans for near and long terms.
But still, there's more than a touch of melancholy. Chris, who will start an advanced degree program in dance at the University of Washington next fall, told me that the closer he gets to the date of his last show, the sadder he feels. The reality of not performing anymore hits harder when, like many things, you realize the full value of something just as it's slipping away.
And Makino, who is turning into a full time choreographer, said that while she really has no regrets, she will miss the camaraderie of dance company life acutely. Striking out on her own as an independent, freelance dance maker, means changing where's she's situated in the studio both literally and figuratively. I can attest to how powerful and unique the "locker room culture" of a ballet company is, and yes, I do miss it, too.
Here's the feature I wrote honoring Makino and Chris. I'm sure their farewell shows will be beautiful events that you should not miss if you are in Portland.
Merde, Chris and Makino!