Martha Chamberlain, principal dancer with the Pennsylvania Ballet, retired at today’s matinée performance of a Balanchine / Gershwin Collaboration Who Cares?. The familiar tunes were a lively backdrop to choreography that had the audience roaring its approval (or at least the very loud woman seated behind me!). During the curtain call, many fans came forward to throw flowers to an obviously moved Chamberlain. She was also handed three large bouquets that she had to place on the stage and two-step around as she took bow after bow.
Chamberlain is a Philadelphia-area native who started dancing at age five and joined the company right after her high school graduation as an apprentice. She moved up the ranks and became principal in 2000. This season marked her 21st year with the company. Her career continued to flourish – even although on a parallel track – when she was sidelined for a period due to stress fractures. She began designing costumes that were used in several Pennsylvania Ballet productions, a talent she plans to capitalize on during her retirement. She’s also a skilled jewelry designer who has sold to stores in Philadelphia and New York.
Today’s expression, prendre sa retraite (prawndrah sah retret) literally means « to take one’s retreat » or, more simply, “to retire.” Between costume and jewelry designing, it seems like Martha Chamberlain will be nearly as busy post-retirement as she has been since she started her professional life at 18. She is far from taking her final bow.