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Susan Jaffe to retire at end of spring season


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This just in from ABT:


Final Performance with American Ballet Theatre Set for June 24, 2002

Susan Jaffe, a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, will retire from dancing after a 22-year career with the Company. She will dance her final performance in the title role of Giselle on Monday evening, June 24, 2002 at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Born in Washington, D.C., Jaffe began her dance training at the Maryland School of Ballet. She also studied at the School of American Ballet and at the American Ballet Theatre School. She performed leading roles with the Maryland Youth Ballet before joining American Ballet Theatre II, ABT's junior troupe, in 1978. Jaffe joined ABT in 1980 and made her debut at the Kennedy Center dancing the Pas d'Esclave from Le Corsaire opposite Alexander Godunov. She was promoted to Soloist in 1981 and to Principal Dancer in 1983.

With American Ballet Theatre, Jaffe has danced a vast repertoire of classical and contemporary leading roles including Gamzatti and Nikiya in La Bayadère, the Lady with Him in Dim Lustre, Kitri in Don Quixote, The Accused in Fall River Legend, Giselle and Myrta in Giselle, the title role in Manon, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, Tatiana in Onegin, the pas de deux Other Dances, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, the second movement of Symphony in C, the Sylph in La Sylphide and leading roles in Ballet Imperial, Études, Paquita, Push Comes to Shove, Symphonie Concertante and Theme and Variations. In addition, she created leading roles in Twyla Tharp's Brahms/Haydn Variations and Known by Heart, Clark Tippet's Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, Mark Morris' Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes and Gong, and Ulysses Dove's Serious Pleasures.

Jaffe has appeared as a guest artist with companies around the world including the Kirov Ballet, The Royal Ballet, La Scala Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet.

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Have been a huge Jaffe fan since I first saw her 22 years ago. I was blindsided by the announcement. I thought, given the current quality of her dancing, that we would see her for a few more years. I'm just sick that I can't see her final performance.


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Kristen, thank you for posting that. I'm sorry you can't see the final performance too!

Jaffe danced "Dim Lustre" in D.C. opening night, and it seemed as though she was injured -- not limping, of course, but not at the top of her form. She then withdrew, not only from "Corsaire" but from Mark Morris's "Gong." Like many dancers her age, she's been troubled by injuries the past few seasons, so perhaps that is at the root of it. Because of those withdrawals, I wasn't as surprised as you by the announcement.

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Forget what I said about missing her final performance. Hell, it's only money - so what if going to New York 3 times in 3 months is a bit excessive. Love the city - 2nd greatest city in the world, behind Paris - and I haven't seen a retirement performance since Martine van Hamel's Swan Lake at the Met, God know's how many years ago. It was a very special evening. I hope Jaffe's injuries won't ruin the Met season for her.

(Special thanks to the nearly bankrupt airline industry for offering such ridiculously cheap airfares between Florida and NYC.)


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I was really not surprized to read of her retirement, since she wasn't down to dance Swan Lake, a part which suited her so well. I think Jaffe is one of the dancers I changed my opinion about, or rather, a dancer who changed over the years. She originally was a technician, I think, in the slightly perjoritive sence, but she really did develop. I just loved her mime scene in Swan Lake, and in classical roles, she was so unmannered and so modest, in a good way. She really seemed to be serving the choreography. But she did develop into quite a powerful actress, especially in Fall River Legend (NOT one of my favorite ballets). She managed to change from old to young, from plain and haggard to beautiful right before our eyes, just by her expression and the way she used her facial muscles. It was so astounding. And the final scene, when the townspeople walk pass her, was amazing. I was sitting close enough to see her expression, and it just gradually grew so hopeless as she looked at each person. It was one of the most moving moments I have ever seen. I hope she is retiring because she wants to, but I think it is such a shame that her abilities couldn't be used longer. It would be great to see her try to stretch herself to do roles like Madge and Carabosse

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