Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine
This partnership is one of my personal favorite. I will say more - absolute favorites. I admire Suzanne - she is my personal icon and inspiration. Her love for ballet shines through every word she says and every movement she makes. And Balanchine... I don't believe that there is a need for any more words then have already been said about him. He is a Legend.
Suzanne Farrell is one of the most famous ballerinas to pass through the School of American Ballet and join the New York City Ballet during the time of Balanchine. She worked hard to become everything that Balanchine was encouraging her to become. In Suzanne Farrell, Balanchine saw that certain
je ne sais quoi
that great ballet masters are always looking for. He assured her that technique was only the tip of the iceberg, and instructed her privately in order to hone her talents beyond simply having perfect technique. Many called her Balanchine's muse, and he created several parts in ballets with her specific flair in mind. She was a beautiful solo dancer, but some of her most breathtaking moments were when she danced with Balanchine himself.
In such a passionate and difficult art form like ballet, forming strong bonds with the people you dance with is almost inevitable. Just like the friends you have made since starting ballet, professional dancers do the same thing with their fellow company members and dancing partners.
The connection between Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine began as any other partnership may have, but quickly developed into something bigger; something that we now consider one of the ‘great’ partnerships in dance history.
Suzanne Farrell was born in 1945 and moved to New York City when she was 15 to pursue a career in ballet. She was given a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet (George Balanchine’s ballet academy that feeds directly into his adjoining company, the New York City Ballet, or NYCB). George Balanchine himself handpicked Suzanne Farrell for NYCB when she was only 16, after one year at SAB.
Her unique combination of musical, physical, and dramatic qualities is said to be what caught his eye, and of course her balletic frame and ethereal beauty. All of these characteristics inspired something in Balanchine’s choreographic imagination.
When using Suzanne in choreography, Balanchine was blown away by what she could do with her body and with ballet. She was not limited by classical ballet technique, but instead, used her strength and knowledge to interpret Balanchine’s ideas into physical form.
He invented countless ballets for Suzanne that introduced completely new movements never before seen in the world of ballet. Suzanne was said to be his muse, inspiring him to push the limits of classical technique.
After his death, she was made a repititeur for the George Balanchine Trust, an organization that nominates heirs to his ballets in order to ensure they are maintained the way Balanchine intended. In this way, the great partnership of Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine still lives on through his ballets, the way it all began.