Akron audiences will have their last chance to see Felise Bagley and Damien Highfield perform with GroundWorks DanceTheater in their farewell concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at E.J. Thomas Hall.

These two dancers extraordinaire have worked with the small but mighty modern dance company for nearly two decades, so their leaving will be bittersweet. Both formerly worked with the Ohio Ballet, and Columbus native Highfield danced with the Akron ballet company for seven years, until it folded in 2006. Bagley danced for two seasons with the Ohio Ballet, under the late Heinz Poll for her first year, before starting with GroundWorks of Cleveland in 2001.

“I got so much from him [Poll], I feel like I was with him for 10 years,’’ said Bagley, 46.

Fellow former Ohio Ballet dancer David Shimotakahara founded GroundWorks, which has for many years been composed of five dancers, in 1998. New York native Bagley made her debut with the company in 2001. Akron resident Highfield danced side projects with GroundWorks beginning in 1999, and formally joined the company in 2007.

Highfield knew then he wanted to make a long-term commitment to GroundWorks: “If I [joined] another new company it was going to be the company I retired with,’’ said the dancer, now 44.

Both Highfield and Bagley will focus next on dance-related business ventures. Highfield will be the new co-owner of Stage Center dance store, a longtime provider of dancewear. He is purchasing the North Hill business from 36-year owners Debra Nagle and Ken Johnson with his business partner, former Ohio Ballet dancer Benjamin “Toby” George.

Highfield has been learning how to do dance-shoe fittings at the store, whose services draw customers from out of state. He also plans to start online sales.

“They’re a service center here. They fit people in shoes and pointe shoes. It’s a lost art,” he said.

Highfield said it was important to him to retire from dance while he’s at his peak.

“I’m really happy I’m passing the torch on to all these kids, and they’re strong and amazing dancers,’’ he said of GroundWorks company members Gemma Bender and Tyler Ring. (New dancer Taylor Johnson, who is expecting a baby, will leave the company at the end of this season.)

Bagley and Highfield also will perform at the Breen Center in Cleveland April 7 and dance for a GroundWorks fundraiser next month. (See groundworksdance.org.)

Highfield said he’ll miss dance incredibly but is looking forward to performing in The Little Mermaid with his youngest two daughters — Fallon, 9, and Aelwyn, 3 — with Ballet Theatre of Ohio in May.

Bagley and Highfield have performed in numerous magnetic duets for nearly two decades. At Saturday’s concert in Akron, they will share their on-stage chemistry in Shimotakahara’s 1999 duet Circadian. Highfield counts it among his favorite duets with Bagley, along with their duet in Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Hindsight featuring the music of Chrissie Hynde.

Highfield remembers Shimotakahara in 1999 creating Circadian with him and former GroundWorks dancer Amy Miller with no music at first. The movement was based on body timing and breath. Highfield has performed the work with Bagley since Miller left the company, so his work on the piece will now come full-circle.

Shimotakahara, who will be hiring three new dancers for next season, said Circadian is about the force of attraction and connectedness between people. He talked about being so intimately involved with Bagley and Highfield through dance for nearly two decades.

“I think it’s very hard to get that kind of commitment — it’s very rare,’’ he said of the pair’s longevity with his company. “I’m just going to miss them because they’re just such fun people to be around.”

After training with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and dancing professionally with companies including Philadanco Joffrey II, Bagley has made Northeast Ohio her home for 20 years. She looks back fondly on spending seven-hour days in pointe shoes in her early days in Akron, surrounded by others who were excited about dance at the Ohio Ballet.

And Bagley said helping to build GroundWorks from the ground up has been a precious opportunity. “Even at the time, I knew it was special to be with something from the very beginning,” she said.

Now, Bagley will start widening her creative perspective: “I’m not retiring. I’m just moving on from one company to other things.’’

She plans to work on choreographic projects and expand from working part time to full time as a gyrotonic instructor at the boutique studio In Spiral Motion in Shaker Heights, focusing on their dancer program.

Bagley said her relationship with dance partner Highfield has been unique and special: “We have a language and a way of communicating that needs no words. … He’s one of the best partners I’ve ever danced with. He’s a generous, kind human being and he’s patient.”

She stressed that she’ll never stop dancing or striving to create balance in movement. When that is achieved, “you have like this inner glow or this radiance or this heat. … It sits in the gut and it radiates out through all parts of the body.”

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.