Women of Washington: Prima ballerina returns home

Julie Kent, in the studio, says she's unsure exactly how her style will translate into the company's dances but feels her experience will trickle down from the executive staff to the youngest performers in the Washington Ballet. (Courtesy Rosalie O'Connor)
Julie Kent, in the studio, says she’s unsure exactly how her style will translate into the company’s dances but feels her experience will trickle down from the executive staff to the youngest performers in the Washington Ballet. (Courtesy Rosalie O’Connor) (Rosalie O'Connor Photography/Rosalie O'Connor)
Kent grew up in Potomac, Maryland but spent most of her life dancing for the American Ballet Theatre. (Courtesy Fabrizio Ferri)
Kent grew up in Potomac, Maryland but spent most of her life dancing for the American Ballet Theatre. (Courtesy Fabrizio Ferri)
The opportunity to join the Washington Ballet as artistic director came out of the blue, Kent said. (Courtesy Rosalie O'Connor)
The opportunity to join the Washington Ballet as artistic director came out of the blue, Kent said. (Courtesy Rosalie O’Connor) (Rosalie O'Connor Photography/Rosalie O'Connor)
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Julie Kent, in the studio, says she's unsure exactly how her style will translate into the company's dances but feels her experience will trickle down from the executive staff to the youngest performers in the Washington Ballet. (Courtesy Rosalie O'Connor)
Kent grew up in Potomac, Maryland but spent most of her life dancing for the American Ballet Theatre. (Courtesy Fabrizio Ferri)
The opportunity to join the Washington Ballet as artistic director came out of the blue, Kent said. (Courtesy Rosalie O'Connor)

WASHINGTON – Julie Kent is ready for her second act. The longest serving ballerina at New York’s American Ballet Theatre is standing in front of a room of donors, dancers and staff detailing her artistic vision for the Washington Ballet.

A Potomac, Maryland native, Kent never anticipated her career would lead her back home. After nearly 30 years on stage, Kent retired last summer and it wasn’t long before the company asked her to step in following artistic director Septime Webre’s final bow.

“New York has been my home for so long.  I’ve had two children there, so moving here is really — it really hasn’t sunk in,” Kent said.

It’s the Washington Ballet’s fortieth year, one Kent says is an important milestone.

“I think that it is a perfect opportunity to refocus the company in their efforts to really continue to build the company until it represents a world class artistic jewel in our nations capital,” Kent said.

She wants to grow the company in size, by adding to the repertoire ballets that she wants performed in the same caliber as they are elsewhere on the international stage. Also joining the company for the 2016-17 season are acclaimed Cuban Rolando Sarabia and Brittany Stone previously with the Boston Ballet.

Kent announced her dream list of performances for the season, some to be danced at the Kennedy Center Opera house. Her goal is to make them accessible to the community by educating the public.

“You always appreciate and enjoy something more when you know about it and understand why it is important and why it should be danced,” she said.

She points out there are building  blocks to learning how to do a certain ballet as it was meant to be showcased.

“You just don’t start dancing ballets you don’t really know how to dance. How you get there is laying the repertoire, so first you do this, this, that, she said gesturing as she spoke.

Kent also has a world premiere in the works that she is still isn’t quite ready to share with those in Washington eager for her official arrival.

 

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