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Flash News, 1-15: Interlude
LeBlanc to Retire

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2009 Paul Ben-Itzak

Tina LeBlanc, the towering ballerina whose name has been synonymous with music for 27 years, the last 17 with San Francisco Ballet, will interpret her last note and roles from the War Memorial Opera House stage at the end of this season, the company announced Friday.

In a career that has spanned three decades and starring roles in two renowned troupes -- she danced for the Joffrey Ballet before joining San Francisco as a principal in 1992 -- LeBlanc defined ballet musicality, absorbing the music and refracting it out to the audience in dance terms that regaled the ears and moved the spirit. Her danced portrayals of Juliet in John Cranko's "Romeo & Juliet" and all the other major roles in the ballet canon made the heart rotate, to borrow a term from Uwe Scholz.

Anticipating her retirement in an exclusive Dance Insider interview last fall, LeBlanc explained, "I'm in good shape, I'm still dancing well, but it's getting to be time; mentally it's harder to make myself push so hard, I have other interests, and it's time." Following her final performance May 9 at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, she'll focus her dance energy on teaching. "We're going to see what develops after that," she told the DI. "I've got some learning to do and some exploring to do, and I'm going to need a little bit of time, even though I've taught since I was a student." She also plans to spend more time on a long-time hobby, quilting.

Looking back on her extraordinary career, she concluded, "It's been a wonderful adventure for me. Everyone should be so lucky as to get paid for something they are passionate about."

To read more about, and from, Tina LeBlanc, check her Dance Insider interview, with exclusive art by Robin Hoffman, by clicking here.

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