It's difficult to imagine what it must feel like for a professional ballet dancer to gear up for their final performance. That day is fast approaching for Amy Aldridge — after 23 years of dancing with the Pennsylvania Ballet, she is retiring from the stage on May 14 with a pas de deux from George Balanchine’s “Rubies.”
“I have so many mixed emotions,” says Aldridge. “The Academy of Music stage is probably the most beautiful stage I’ve ever danced on. There’s a nice charm to it — a sense of peace. I’m very excited but a little sad and nervous.”
Aldridge’s parents were encouraged to enroll her in ballet after she playfully danced on an empty restaurant stage as a kid. “I’ve been at it ever since,” she says.
After graduating from the North Carolina School for the Arts, the Richmond, Virginia, native joined the Pennsylvania Ballet in 1994.
“I always said, ‘I’ll never start and finish my career in the same place. I don’t like Philadelphia. I don’t want to be here,’” she remembers. “When I first moved here, it was just tumbleweeds on Walnut Street. It wasn’t really that developed and the crime rate was high. And then the city started changing.”
Philadelphia’s cultural renaissance over the past few years has enamored Aldridge, who plans to stay here after her retirement.
“To see the city change and grow and see the arts grow in Philadelphia has changed my perspective and how I feel about staying here. It definitely made me want to stick around,” she notes.
Don’t think Aldridge is going to completely stray from keeping “on-pointe” as a dancer simply because she’s retiring from performing, however.
“I still plan on taking class because that’s what I do. If I stop moving, my body would completely shut down. I feel better when I am dancing and when I am taking class,” she says.
Once she wraps up her time with the Pennsylvania Ballet, she plans on teaching as well as spending more quality time with her cocker spaniel, Daisy.
“I feel fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work under two amazing artistic directors and collaborate with so many talented choreographers,” says Aldridge. “My future is still full of dance, but in a different capacity. I love teaching and look forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with the next generation of dancers.”
If you go:
Sunday, May 14, 2 p.m.
Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St.