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Dancer Who Has Spent Decades With PA Ballet Is Retiring

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's the end of an era at the Pennsylvania Ballet.

A dancer who has spent her entire career with the company is retiring.

Amy Aldridge is from the South. She was born in Virginia, went to school in North Carolina. But she calls Philadelphia home now. That's what happens when you spend more than two decades in one place building a career.

That career comes to a close this weekend. The final curtain falls on Sunday, May 14.

For 23 seasons, Aldridge has spent countless hours perfecting her technique at the Pennsylvania Ballet. It's the only company she's ever known, in a city she's come to love.

"I developed a family here," Aldridge says. "The more I've seen it grow. The more I've grown with it. And I just grew to have a deeper love for this city."

Aldridge now finds herself polishing her final performance. In a mixed-bill program, she's dancing one of her signature pieces -- Balanchine's "Rubies."

But she's had many memorable roles throughout her career at PA Ballet. Aldridge quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2001, fulfilling a dream she's had her entire life.

"I don't know if you've ever had those moments when you danced around the house," Aldridge says. "You're in your own world. Nobody else was there. That's kind of how I feel when I'm on stage. I never thought of it as a job. I thought how lucky am I to get up and do what I love to do every single day."

That doesn't mean her life as a dancer has been easy.

"It's been a difficult career," she says. "Every day you get up and you go to work and you look at yourself in the mirror. Every hair in place. Every finger a certain way."

With retirement in sight, Aldridge is excited about unloading some of that pressure.

"I've never been skiing, I've never been ice skating, so a little bit more adventurous things I'm looking forward to doing," Aldridge says.

Still, she'll miss the moments when all this hard work pays off.

"After you've done a really difficult ballet where you're like yes I did it," she says. "I think that thrill and excitement of the stage and the audience and the energy I'll definitely miss."

As she hits that final mark on Sunday, her pas de deux will close the show and her career.

"It'll be bitter sweet," she says. "When that stage is dark and quiet and there's that ghost light. There's a peace, no faces. No nothing. And I'll see that, and that'll be the last time."

But this isn't good-bye. Aldridge is staying in Philly. She wants to share her knowledge and passion by stepping out of the spotlight and onto teaching the next generation.

"I'll be in the theater at all the performances rooting everybody else on," she promises.

The mixed bill program called Re/Action runs through Sunday at the Academy of Music. Aldridge's last performance is on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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