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Principal Dancer Kathleen Breen Combes on What Inspired Her New Website and Plans for the Future

By Lisa Pierpont | April 4, 2018 | People

Principal dancer Kathleen Breen Combes is preparing for her future as meticulously as she soared up the ranks at Boston Ballet.

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Championed by The New York Times as a “ballerina of colossal scale and boldness,” Kathleen Breen Combes, 36, joined the Boston Ballet at the age of 21. Every two years, she was promoted: to second soloist, then soloist and nally principal dancer. “I have never wanted to be anything other than a ballet dancer,” she says. In fact, she only knows how to excel. “You have to be in it 100 percent. You have to give your whole life to ballet.” Now, though, as the mother of a 2-year-old daughter with husband Yury Yanowsky (Boston Ballet choreographer and former principal dancer) and as a parttime graduate student at Northeastern University for nonprofit management—and still as principal dancer—Breen Combes is contemplating tomorrow. And just as she practices incessantly to perfect a technical ballet move, Breen Combes is approaching her future with the same dedication. She has created a new website (artisticleadhership.org), which is a foray into the public domain as a reporter, if you will, on how ballerinas transition into their second act. “I interview ballerinas about how they chose their next phase,” she says. “What attributes have we learned as dancers? How do we channel our passion and energy and commitment to excellence into a new life?” They are big questions that Breen Combes understands are perhaps not limited to ballet dancers. “I’m looking forward to seeing how this evolves,” she says. “I am open to everything.”



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Photography by: PHOTO BY GABRIELLA RIGGIERI