Star dancer leaving Miami City Ballet

Patricia Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro in Justin Peck’s “Heatscape” two years ago.
Patricia Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro in Justin Peck’s “Heatscape” two years ago. Photo © DanielAzoulay

Ballerina Patricia Delgado, a beloved Miami-raised principal dancer at Miami City Ballet, is leaving the company where she has danced since 2000, when she joined as an 18 year old apprentice. The troupe announced Tuesday that Delgado's final performances with MCB will be on Program Four, starting this weekend in Palm Beach and in subsequent shows April 1-2 in Miami and April 8-9 in Fort Lauderdale.

Delgado will join her boyfriend, New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck, in New York. An MCB release said that she would "pursue other creative and artistic opportunities" in the city.

"I am overwhelmed with gratitude for a career that is more than I ever dreamed of," Delgado said in a statement released by MCB. "I feel so full in my heart and I am so excited to pursue this next phase of my life."

Raised in Kendall, Delgado, who is Cuban-American, began studying at MCB's school when she was 11. Founding artistic director Edward Villella quickly spotted her talent, inviting her to perform on a 1998 tour when she was just 16. Delgado joined the company as an apprentice in 2000 and rose through the ranks to become a principal dancer in 2007. She has danced the full range of the company's repertoire, from glittering neo-classical works by George Balanchine to emotionally charged modern dance pieces by Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor, and commissions from Liam Scarlett and Peck, earning enthusiastic reviews across the United States and abroad.

Her younger sister Jeanette Delgado has had a similar trajectory, also starting at MCB's school as a young girl and quickly rising to principal dancer. Their Miami roots, bright personalities, and warm relationship have endeared them to South Florida audiences beyond their considerable talent.

Several sources say that Jeanette Delgado is also leaving the company at the end of this season, although reportedly for a year-long leave of absence, rather than a formal departure. MCB has not made any announcement about Jeanette. The sisters' absence, after so many years as an integral part of the troupe, promises to change the company's profile. MCB is holding auditions in New York on March 26.

Patricia Delgado's final performances will be in two Balanchine favorites that have long been in the company's repertoire. They are "Divertimento No. 15" and the jazzy "Who Cares?," set to George Gershwin tunes, the first ballet she performed as a company member. MCB will present Delgado with a special tribute after her last performance on April 9.

If you go

What: Patricia Delgado's final performances with Miami City Ballet

When: 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday "Who Cares?"

Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

8 p.m. April 1 - "Who Cares?" and 2 p.m. April 2 - "Divertimento No. 15"

Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

8 p.m. April 8 - "Divertimento" and 2 p.m. April 9 "Who Cares?" with tribute

Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Info: $20 to $ 189, miamicityballet.org or 305-929-7010