Teresa Reichlen retires from New York City Ballet

Teresa Reichlen, principal dancer with New York City Ballet for 13 years, announced Wednesday that she will be retiring from the company...


Teresa Reichlen, principal dancer with New York City Ballet for 13 years, announced Wednesday that she will be retiring from the company and giving her farewell performance in George Balanchine’s “Swan Lake.”

“I love my job, but I’ve been doing it for over 20 years,” Reichlen, 37, said in an interview. “So I’m excited to try something new.”

That something new, she added, will be a move from City Ballet’s Lincoln Center campus to the Lower East Side, where she plans to work as gallery director at Shrine, which was founded in 2016 by her husband, Scott Ogden.

“He never pressured me to quit, but it was always my long-term goal to come to work for the gallery,” Reichlen said. “And his gallery owner just left, so it came at the right time for us.”

She expected her farewell performance to be in Peter Martins’ feature ‘Swan Lake’, but its broadcast was canceled and the company’s repertoire changed, as disruptions caused by the Omicron variant delayed the start of the City Ballet’s winter season. Instead, she will dance Odette in the one-act version of Balanchine on February 19.

It might have been a less grand goodbye, but Reichlen was unfazed. She said she had recently tested positive for coronavirus and quarantined, keeping her out of the rehearsal room and worried about taking all the ballet so soon after she recovered. “When I saw the one-act was there,” she said, “it was pretty perfect.”

Reichlen apprenticed with City Ballet in the fall of 2000 and joined its corps a year later. She was promoted to soloist in 2005, then solo in October 2009. She performed in core repertoire – such as works by Balanchine and Robbins – and created roles in premieres by Justin Peck, Benjamin Millepied and more.

“I was able to dance Balanchine’s choreography in the theater he built, with a live orchestra,” Reichlen said. “The sauce on top has traveled the world, to St. Petersburg, London, Paris; we have been to so many spectacular theaters.

Reichlen became a face of City Ballet’s response to the turmoil in 2018, after Martins retired from the company amid accusations of abuse (which he denied) and other dancers were fired on sexual misconduct. Surrounded by colleagues onstage at the David H. Koch Theater, she kicked off that year’s Fall Fashion Gala with a speech in which she said“We will not put art ahead of common decency or let talent sway our moral compass. With the world changing – and our beloved institution in the spotlight – we continue to hold ourselves to the high moral standards that were instilled in us when we decided to become professional dancers.

Like many performing artists, Reichlen has reconsidered her life a lot during the pandemic. She took the longest break of her career, and soon after found out she was pregnant. Her free time, she says, played a role in her decision to retire.

“I could never imagine my life without dancing,” she said. “It was terrifying, but I was surprised at how much I was okay with it.”

Several other directors of City Ballet have recently retired or announced their intention to do so, including Abi Stafford, Ask la Cour, Lauren Lovette and Maria Kowroski in the fall; Gonzalo Garcia later in February; and Amar Ramasar in May.

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