Saturday, March 04, 2000

Ballerina Mylene dances her farewell

Enquirer contributor

        It's next to impossible for a girl to start ballet at 13 and expect to have a professional career. That's just too late a start to develop that finished look, experts say.

        Lucky for Jessica Mylene — and the fans who who have followed her career here for four years — nobody told her of this unwritten rule. She first stepped into a dance studio at 13 for a jazz class and was caught up in the energy and excitement. Within a year, she was in pointe shoes at the ballet barre.

        “I didn't know any better,” she says over a salad and a cup of tea. “Nobody told me I was too old to start.”

        Now 31 and a soloist with Cincinnati Ballet, she says it's time to get back to Miami and husband, Jesse Drago. This is her last season with the company.

        Ms. Mylene (pronounced mee-LIN) told artistic director Victoria Morgan last season that she would be leaving and hoped she might dance a farewell piece. Ms. Morgan offered her Balanchine's “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,” a ballerina's dream role.

        “It's fast, playful and very technical. It's my personality and my kind of dancing,” Ms. Mylene says.

        Her partner will be company principal Rene Micheo. “Incredible to dance with,” she says.

        She knew ballet was her future when she saw a video of Margot Fonteyn dancing “Ondine.” “Her soul was so beautiful. I didn't care what she was doing — that's what I wanted to do,” she remembers.

        It's time to pass that passion on to others. Her immediate plans are to work with friend Tony Catanzaro, teaching at Ballet Academy of Miami — and to have babies.

        “Jesse says, "How about seven?'. I say, "How about we take this one at a time?'.” she says. “When I came here, Jesse said, "If that's where you need to be, go.' He's my rock, my angel.”

        Cincinnati Ballet in Celebrating Women: “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,” “Rapture,” “Stepping Stones” and “No Oblivion” Friday-Saturday, Aronoff Center Procter & Gamble Hall. 241-7469.


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