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Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancer Julie Diana to Retire

diana-headshot
Principal Dancer Julie Diana | Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancer Julie Diana will retire after 21 years on stage with a performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain on Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 2 p.m. at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. She also will join the Company on its tour to The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC this June. An accomplished writer, Ms. Diana plans to focus on her writing and spend more time with her young family upon her retirement.

“Julie is an artist of exceptional grace and arresting emotion,” Artistic Director Roy Kaiser says. “While we will surely miss her magnetic presence, we join her in celebrating this remarkable achievement and wish her the very best as she pursues her passions off stage and enjoys her beautiful family.”

A New Jersey native, Ms. Diana began her professional career as a member of the Corps de Ballet at San Francisco Ballet in 1993 and rose through their ranks to a promotion to Principal Dancer in 2000. She joined Pennsylvania Ballet as a Principal Dancer in September 2004 and has danced countless roles in both the classical and contemporary repertoire, including principal roles in Giselle, Romeo & Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Afternoon of a Faun, and Serenade. She dances the principal role in George Balanchine’s Diamonds from Jewels in the upcoming nationwide PBS broadcast Pennsylvania Ballet at 50, airing Friday, May 2. Ms. Diana holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and writes for various dance publications. She is married to Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancer Zachary Hench, and they have two children. To read Ms. Diana’s full biography, click here.

For her final performance in Philadelphia, Ms. Diana will dance Wheeldon’s After the Rain with her husband, Principal Dancer Zachary Hench, on Mother’s Day. After the Rain joins Grieg: Piano Concerto by Robert Weiss and a World Premiere from renowned choreographer Trey McIntyre on the program Director’s Choice, May 8-11 at the Academy of Music. Tickets are available online at paballet.org, by phone at 215.893.1999, and in person at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Pennsylvania Ballet then tours to The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, June 6-8, with Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ms. Diana will dance the leading role of Titania.

Ms. Diana will reflect on her career and next steps at Conversations with Pennsylvania Ballet – a free, public discussion series – on Monday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia City Institute Library at 1905 Locust Street.

Julie Diana is The Hassel Foundation Principal Dancer.

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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