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Felise Bagley and Damien Highfield Take Final Bow for Groundworks

The career of the professional dancer is short. 

Like athletes, the clock ticks much faster for dancers when it comes to performing onstage. 

Two longtime dance partners and members of Groundworks Dance Theater, Damien Highfield and Felise Bagley, bid adieu to the spotlight Saturday, as they perform their final duet as company members.

[photo: Mark Horning]

After 20 years as dancing partners, Highfield and Bagley have developed a unique language together.

"Actually sometimes we're not even speaking at all," Highfield said.  "We can just read each other with a single glance or a look.  It's amazing.  I'll  look across the room and know exactly what she's thinking,"

While the two are not life partners, their professional lives as dancers became entwined over the years.

"There was always that little understanding of: 'Don't you leave me.  Don't ever leave me,'" he admitted.

[photo: Mark Horning]

So, it's fitting the two are retiring simultaneously from the company they helped build.

"Dancing is one of the most unique things you can do with your life," Bagley said.  "It's very challenging to find something more incredible than being a dancer."

The fact that they've lasted together so long as a dancing pair is a testament to how they take care of their bodies.

"I would come home [after each performance] and I would put my feet in a bucket of ice.  As the years went on, I needed a little bit of ice on the hips.  Then I needed a little bit of ice on the shoulders.  Then a little bit of ice on the lower back," she said.

But the one thing that's kept Bagley going all these years was her favorite meal.

"For the last 20 years, my routine has been what I call the 'Sacred Jelly Sandwich,' and that is two pieces of very healthy bread with strawberry preserves," she said.  "I nibble on that all day and that keeps me going."

[photo: Mark Horning]

Felise Bagley and Damien Highfield take the stage of the Breen Performing Arts Center in Ohio City in their final performance together as members of Groundworks Dance Theater Saturday night.




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