First of all, I disagree about the 32 (not 36) fouettes importance. It is obvious in the choreorgraphy that those turns are the point at which he is convinced by Odile. I don't necessarily agree that 32 is a magic number. Many wonderful dancers (such as Julie Kent and Wendy Whelan) only do 28. The effect is still there and that is what is important.
Back to the original subject about dancers who waited too long to retire, I agree about Merrill Ashley waiting too long. I saw her final performance at SPAC, and saw her limp out of the theater, something she wouldn't have been able to do without her husband's help. I think if she had retired a few years earlier, no one would have thought any less of her and would still have glorified her long, magnificent career. For example, I was devastated to hear of Helene Alexopoulos' retirement. I think she danced beautifully the last time I saw her on stage (one week before retiring) and believe she could have stuck it out for a little longer. Then I remembered she'd been in the company for well over 20 years- hard for me to imagine because that's longer than I've been alive. I have tremendous respect for her because she knew when to quit. I certainly don't think any less of her because as far as I know, she can still walk.
Knowing when to quit
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