Richmond Ballet News

Shira Lanyi Says Farewell, And Begins a New Pursuit of an Old Dream

April 29th, 2015

Shira as Juliet - Crop

Opening night of Road to China Previews on May 12 will also mark the beginning of a new journey for returning company member, Shira Lanyi, as she bids a formal farewell to her hometown audience


While Richmond Ballet’s Road to China preview performances, and the tour to China that will follow, will both mark a tremendous tremendous occasions for the company’s ever-expanding international horizons, early May will also mark another turning point in the company’s identity at home. Shira Lanyi, a Richmond native, a graduate of The School of Richmond Ballet and a member of professional company for now eight seasons, will formally bid farewell to her hometown audiences with a celebratory swan song following the May 12 performance. She has elected to retire from the stage and begin a new chapter of her life, pursuing a medical career. The Richmond-native has been a member of the professional company for eight seasons.

VIDEO: See Shira Lanyi perform the solo Finding The Path LIVE on Tuesday, May 12, at 6:30 PM, as part of a special Road to China Preview Night.


Known to so many Richmond Ballet fans through her memorable appearances as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Juliet in Romeo & Juliet, as the title role in Cinderella and Giselle, and as one of The Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairies nearly every holiday season, Ms. Lanyi’s departure, along with that of Phillip Skaggs who is also set to retire following the conclusion of the tour to China, will provide new opportunities for the company’s younger members to step into the fore. Ms. Lanyi is slated to perform with the company in China, but will begin preparations for a medical career when she returns state-side in June at Virginia Commonwealth University, before completing her undergraduate studies and later enrolling full-time in medical school in California.

Ms. Lanyi took a leave of absence from the company at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season to spend time with her family in IMG_6757edit2Israel and to be with her beloved mother at the end of her life. While in Israel, Shira danced as a member of the Israel Ballet, but returned to Richmond for the company’s production of Don Quixote before officially re-joining the professional troupe at the end of March for both Liebeslieder Walzer and The 40th Anniversary Gala Performance in honor of The School of Richmond Ballet.

“Returning to Richmond has brought me back to life,” said Ms. Lanyi. “The many sweet memories of my mother have flooded my senses and brought joy back to my spirit. Richmond is and always will be home. This is where I grew up, and where I discovered my path into professional dance. The Richmond Ballet is a piece of who I am as an artist and a person. I could not imagine retiring from the stage without the love and support of my dear friends and teachers who made me who I have become.”

“Most of us remember watching Shira as a student in The School of Richmond Ballet, growing up through our trainee program, and then later taking center stage as a much beloved member of our professional company,” said Stoner Winslett, Artistic Director of Richmond Ballet. “As a Richmond native, Shira joins the ranks of some of our most memorable hometown dancers who have performed with tremendous pride to an audience of friends, neighbors, fellow students and longtime fans. It will be difficult to imagine our future performances without Shira’s beautiful spirit and warm presence; and we will fondly remember her talent, her unstoppable drive, and her well-earned ability to step into full-length, classical roles. I have no doubt that Shira will approach her new career with as much drive and determination as was evident within her ballet career here in Richmond. There’s nothing that she can’t do, and I wish her all the best.”

Nutcracker Shoot 045“I have always been very curious about medicine and the workings of the human body,” continued Ms. Lanyi. “Being a dancer, we gain a deep and intimate knowledge of how our muscular structure functions, how it holds pain, how it recovers, and I always thought that could be a very useful perspective in the medical profession. I will forever be a ballerina, because it is who my mother saw me become. But now I begin a new journey to help the future generations of ballerinas stay on their toes.”

Ms. Lanyi began her dance training at the age of eight with The School of Richmond Ballet and continued her training there through high school. Ms. Lanyi also attended summer programs at Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. After graduating from high school, Ms. Lanyi joined Richmond Ballet’s apprentice program for two years before being promoted into the professional company in 2007. She also participated in the National Choreographers Initiative during both of the summer of 2013 and the summer of 2014.



Richmond Ballet is excited to announce that the professional company will preview the touring program, Made in The USA: Traditions & Innovations at the Ballet’s Studio Theatre, with four Road to China preview performances, May 12-15, 2015, before leaving for its four-city tour to China on May 17. The program will feature four short works, including two ballets by iconic American choreographers, Valse Fantaisie by George Balanchine and After Eden by John Butler; and two ballets commissioned and premiered by Richmond Ballet, Swipe by Val Caniparoli, and Lift The Fallen by Ma Cong. READ MORE about our Road to China Preview Performances.


Road to China Preview Performances  |  TICKETS START AT $20.00

Featuring the mixed repertory touring program, Made in The USA: Traditions & Innovations

Richmond Ballet Studio Theatre  |  407 E. Canal Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219

Tuesday, May 12, 6:30 pm (includes a farewell reception for Shira Lanyi)  |  TICKETS

Wednesday, May 13, 6:30 pm

Thursday, May 14, 6:30 pm

Friday, May 15, 6:30 pm

Tickets available at, by calling 1.800.514.3849,

or through the Richmond Ballet Box Office at 407 E. Canal Street

RTC Preview Sponsors


Romeo and Juliet Photo by Aaron Sutten.

Swan Lake Photo by Sarah Ferguson.

Sugar Plum Photo with Thomas Garrett. Photo by Sarah Ferguson.

Valse Fantaisie. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.



Finding The Path. Choreography by Lyudvig Ispiryan of Israel Ballet.

Music: Infra 4 by Louisa Fuller

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