PA ballerina dances into retirement

Retirement, 11-12, Features, Videos

by Lisa Thomas-Laury
January 12, 2012
The Pennsylvania Ballet is saying goodbye to one of the best dancers in the business. The Ballet's principal ballerina is retiring next month.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Riolama Lorenzo began her ballet training with her mother at age 14.
"My mother was a ballerina in Cuba. She danced with Alicia Alonso," Lorenzo said.
She says ballet has always come easily to her and she has always loved performing.
"As a child you like what you're good at and then the whole performing and dancing abroad and all those opportunities that you get as a ballerina," Lorenzo said.
In 1993, she received the renowned Princess Grace Award and later joined New York City Ballet.
She joined the Pennsylvania Ballet in 2002.
She has danced leading roles in hundreds of performances and was pregnant in Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake last March, but still performed.
"I have a 6-month old baby daughter and a 4-year-old son and that's a big part of the reason why I'm retiring," Lorenzo said.
As for retiring, she says, "It's hard, but it's something you have to be ready for and I think I'm ready."
Artistic director, Roy Kaiser, says she's a ballerina of breathtaking skill; he hired her ten years ago.
"I will miss her. I certainly will, but we'll keep part of her here. She has a great influence over the younger dancers. She has for many years, so they'll carry that on," Kaiser said.
For her final performance next month , February 12th, Riolama will perform in Matthew Neenan's "Keep" at the Merriam Theatre, which was choreographed for her.
"I think it's perfect, that I should end with something so personal and so beautiful," Lorenzo said.
Riolama has prepared for retirement. She looks forward to spending more time with her children, plus she has a bachelor's degree in Health Science from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
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