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New stage of life

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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Bradon P. "Brady" McDonald has vaulted around the world as a professional dancer, especially during the past 10 years with the esteemed Mark Morris Dance Group.


"The longest I've been in one city since 1997 is six weeks," Mr. McDonald, a Lowville native, said recently from New York City, where the Mark Morris Dance Group is based.


But the dancer has found a permanent landing pad in Los Angeles. That's where he will live after retiring from dancing.


One of his final performances will take place Sept. 24 in Albany, where the Mark Morris troupe will dance to music by Frederic Chopin, Samuel Barber, George Gershwin and Lou Harrison played by the Mark Morris Music Ensemble.


Mr. McDonald will be featured in the solo "Three Preludes," featuring music by Gershwin. The piece premiered in 1992 and has been performed by only two other dancers: Mark Morris and Russian great Mikhail Baryshnikov.


Mr. McDonald, who joined the Mark Morris troupe in 2000, had time to chat recently before flying to Dallas for a performance.


"You can't dance forever in this professional arena," Mr. McDonald said. "What I really loved about dancing is the performing. I'm 35. While I could do this for another five or seven years, it's definitely not getting any easier on my body."


Instead of dancing six hours a day, five or six days a week, he will pursue a career in fashion. Starting Oct. 4, he will attend classes at the Fashion Institute of Design & Marketing in Los Angeles. That's the morning after his last performance, in Berkeley, Calif.


Mr. McDonald will live with his partner, Joshua Winograde, an executive with the Los Angeles opera. Mr. McDonald has been commuting between New York City and Los Angeles.


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Instead of spending his senior year at Lowville Academy and Central School, Mr. McDonald attended the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, graduating in 1993. The son of Shirley McDonald, Lowville, and the late Stephen P. McDonald then went on to the Juilliard School in New York City, where he was one of fewer than two dozen applicants worldwide to be offered admission and a scholarship to its modern dance program. He graduated in 1997.


In 1998, he was one of 21 artists in the fields of dance, theater and film to receive a Princess Grace Award from the Princess Grace Foundation USA. Mr. McDonald has choreographed and presented his own works internationally and served as choreographer for several Juilliard Opera Company productions.


His interest in dance began in first grade when he took tap-dancing lessons in Lowville with "old-school and strict" instructor Donna J. Foote, who died in 2001.


Looking back on his career, Mr. McDonald said, "It's been unbelievable."


He said highlights include performing in Tokyo in 2002 with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and performing around the world, including in the United Kingdom several times, New Zealand, Australia, Vienna, France and across the U.S., including several stops in Hawaii.


"I definitely got to see the world," he said.


He will welcome that world becoming smaller.


"I'm looking forward to being in one spot with my 2-year-old dog and just two blocks away from the school," he said.


Mr. McDonald plans to study and create women's apparel. He's been seriously dabbling in developing a particular type of fashion.


"For the past 10 years, I've been making bags for men and women," he said.


He often travels with a portable sewing machine, which he carries on planes with his luggage.


"They are very curious about it," he said of airport security personnel.


Mr. McDonald said he developed the idea for his line of bags because as a dancer, he saw how important they were, having to carry a change of clothes along with dance and exercise equipment.


"Since I was 6 years old, I've always had a dancing bag with me," he said.


In 2007, Mr. McDonald rented a gallery on New York City's east side to display his creations.


"It started to consume me with the time I had," he said. "Dancing had been my first priority."


But Mr. McDonald won't be completely out of dancing; he said he hopes to get into teaching dance.


He's not worried about getting out of shape as he retires from the rigorous dancing lifestyle. He said he's the type who is happy with a spoonful of Haagen-Dazs ice cream instead of a pint.


He's also taken up yoga. "The way you use your muscles in that is similar to dancing," Mr. McDonald said.


He also hikes, bikes and plays tennis.


"I'll have more time to do those."    

THE DETAILS...
WHAT: The Mark Morris Dance Group at The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany. The dance group features Lowville native Bradon P. "Brady" McDonald. It will be one of his last performances as a professional dancer.WHEN: 8 p.m. Sept. 24.COST: $36 for adults, $32 for senior citizens, $18 for children ages 2 to 18. OF NOTE: The troupe will perform four works: "Sang-Froid," composed by Fredric Chopin and consisting of nine dancers; "Excursions," composed by Samuel Barber, with six dancers; "Three Preludes," composed by George Gershwin and featuring solo dancer Mr. McDonald; and "Grand Duo," composed by Lou Harrison with 14 dancers, including Mr. McDonald.MORE INFO: Contact The Egg's box office at 1 (518) 473-1845 or www.theegg.org.
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