By: JEN KARETNICK
Miami City Ballet’s principal dancer readies to take his final bow.
Much like for everyone else, the pandemic hugely upset plans of Miami City Ballet’s (MCB) principal dancer Rainer Krenstetter. In short, the big idea for this renowned Austrian performer was to hang up his slippers at the end of that season. “I wanted to retire on my terms, not when my body was completely damaged. I’ve seen too many other principal dancers having great careers but at the end looking not so good anymore because they danced a bit too long,” Krenstetter says. “I wanted to be remembered in a good way.” Alas, fate had a different plan altogether.
COVID-19 changed everything by shutting down all shows with live audiences. “It’s important to look good when you say goodbye as a main dancer with a main company,” he continues. “And you can’t say goodbye without having performances.” So, he agreed to extend his run by adding another season to his Miami tenure, making this year his retirement tour de force.
But, don’t be fooled. This quasi-retreat is still a very busy period for Krenstetter, who already accepted the position of artistic director for Unblanche, a ballet training program in Tokyo, and an associate artistic directorship at the Margot Fonteyn Academy of Ballet in Phoenix.
Now, he is dancing a full season in Miami in his usual leading roles, plus guiding two other companies’ repertoire. That means Krenstetter, who spent last season keeping in shape in his living room without a barre nor sprung floor, is barely sleeping. After his own rehearsals and performances, he goes to bed at 1 a.m. and is up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare his dancers in Tokyo via Zoom.
That’s not all. Krenstetter is scheduled to perform at ballet galas in Austria and Germany, and hold summer workshops and teach in festivals all over the world, all while championing his students and protégés vying for placements in exchange programs and competitions. Another endeavor close to his heart is directing the first-ever ALS charity gala taking place in October in Miami with dancers from the Russian Royal Ballet, chosen by Krenstetter for the occasion.
This globetrotter hopes to continue calling South Florida home, which is near Wellington, the epicenter of his equestrian husband’s professional universe. Spending time with his other half can be a challenge. “A big part of our hearts belong to our passions,” he says. “With our jobs, we are always invested. Artists need partners who understand that our heart also belongs to our craft.”