PA Ballet's Julie Diana: Inspirational On- and Offstage

Julie Diana and Zachary Hench in Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev

Julie Diana and Zachary Hench in Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Longtime Pennsylvania Ballet principal Julie Diana gave her retirement performance yesterday, dancing Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain with husband and fellow principal Zachary Hench.

Diana’s career spanned an impressive 21 years (she was a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet before heading to Philadelphia in 2004).  But for me, what makes her career even more inspirational is her remarkably full life outside of ballet. While maintaining a grueling rehearsal and performance schedule, she also managed to pursue a college degree (she has a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania). Since graduating, she’s embarked on an ardent and accomplished writing career—perhaps you’ve seen her articles on the pages of Pointe, Dance Magazine, or Dance Spirit. And, as if that weren’t enough, she’s a busy mother of two. Her children were in the audience yesterday for her last performance—which happened to coincide with Mother’s Day.

Often, young dancers think that the demands of a ballet career means giving up everything else: school, motherhood, outside interests. But Diana has somehow managed to fulfill all four. That deserves the term Superwoman, in my book! Luckily for Pointe readers, she’s not going anywhere far—she now intends to spend more time on her writing.