Principal Artist Retires From Australian Ballet November 30

Audience members will be able to join members of the company in expressing their appreciation of his wonderful contribution to ballet and dance when Damien takes a farewell bow on Monday 30 November - the final performance of The Australian Ballet's Concord season. This announcement does not mean we haveseen the last of Damien on stage.

Artistic Director David McAllister announced that Damien will continue to have an on going relationship with The Australian Ballet, returning in 2010 as a guest artist in a number of performances throughout the year. David reflects: "It has been such a joy to watch Damien join the company as a talented young dancer and develop into one of the most gifted artists of his generation.

""He has lit up stages across the world for the last 18 years and created roles with some of theworld's most respected choreographers," he said."Damien will continue to grace our stages in 2010 as he simultaneously develops hisinterests in creating and restaging works on theother side of the curtain."Damien is an extraordinary talent whose expressive and powerful style, along with his easy going manner, have made him a criticallyacclaimed ballet star and a respected member of the company.

The son of Australian dance legends Marilyn Jones and Garth Welch, and younger brother of star choreographer Stanton Welch, Damien had big shoes to fill. He has done so with the grace required of the ballet world's elite. He has hadworks created on him by some of the globe's leading choreographers Twyla Tharp, Ji?i Kyliánand Stanton Welch, partnered the world's best ballerinas and performed many classical and contemporary works on the Australian and international stage. In announcing this next step Damien says, "I am excited by the opportunities the future offers and am looking forward to a rewarding career behind the scenes."Reflecting on his career Damien says, "The Australian Ballet has been my family and my lifefor over 15 years so there is no doubt I will miss it.

"2009 has been an exciting one for Damien, whomade his choreographic debut in May in Body torque 2.2 with the work Chemical Trigger. In July he and his wife, fellow Principal ArtistKirsty Martin, welcomed their second child into the world, Matilda. They also have a son, Oscar, who is four.Damien has enjoyed a stellar career on stageand the company looks forward to an on going association with him. Damien started training at the Marilyn Jones andGarth Welch School of Ballet at the age of 15,and was accepted into The Australian BalletSchool at 16. In 1992 he joined The Australian Ballet, and was promoted to Soloist in 1996, then to Senior Artist and finally Principal in1998.Damien has performed works by many famouschoreographers, including William Forsythe, Nacho Duato, Stanton Welch, Graeme Murphy,Twyla Tharp, James Kudelka, Gideon Obarzanek and Paul Lightfoot, and has danced in hundreds of ballets. After a stretch with Nederlands Dans Theater I from 2000 to 2002, Damien returnedto The Australian Ballet. His final performance is at The Sydney OperaHouse Monday 30 November 2009.

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