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Work hard, play hard: dancer’s final bow

Amy Harris (with Nathan Brook) says she’s retiring from the Australian Ballet with a ‘happy heart’. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Australian Ballet dancer Amy Harris says there will be happiness and tears when the curtain falls on her 22 year career, reports LIZ HOBDAY.

DANCER Amy Harris is wondering how she will feel when the final curtain drops on her 22-year career with the Australian Ballet.

Her last role with the national company is playing Marguerite, in “Marguerite and Armand” by legendary choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, a role originally created for Margot Fonteyn.

There will be happiness and definitely a few tears onstage at the Sydney Opera House, she predicts.

“I am going out with a really happy heart,” Harris told AAP. “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in 22 years, so it’s a mix of emotions.”

She began dancing aged three-and-a-half in her hometown of Ararat and joined the Australian Ballet School at 15.

Even so, it hasn’t always been an easy rise to the top.

“I had some struggles in the early years,” Harris said. “I had to find my way and it took a while for me.”

These days she has two children with fellow Australian Ballet dancer Jarryd Madden and they are used to taking Willow, 8, and Phoenix, 4, on tour.

But that’s a more difficult proposition at school age, she said.

Leaving the national company has been a bittersweet decision several years in the making, according to Harris, with “Marguerite and Armand” a beautiful ballet to end on.

It’s based on “La Dame aux Camelias”, a novel and play by Alexandre Dumas first published in 1848 and part of the inspiration for Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” more than 150 years later.

Her performance features on a double bill also including Ashton’s Shakespearean adaptation, “The Dream”.

“Marguerite and Armand” is one of the tragic love stories that have been highlights of Harris’ career, including dancing as Anna in 2022’s “Anna Karenina” and Romola in 2016’s “Nijinsky”.

So what’s next? Harris wants to take the slow lane for a while but says ballet will remain part of her life: her eldest, Willow, started classes this year.

Another top Australian Ballet dancer Adam Bull retired in June, also after 22 years with the company – he and Harris went through ballet school together.

“We always said we certainly knew how to work hard but we also knew how to play hard,” she said.

“Maybe that’s the formula for life.”

“The Dream/Marguerite and Armand” runs until November 25 at the Sydney Opera House.

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