Suzanne Farrell inspired some of George Balanchine’s finest choreography; today, she helps maintain his legacy as founder of the Balanchine Preservation Initiative and her own ballet company at The Kennedy Center. She joined Paul Holdengräber at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to reflect on Balanchine, ballet, and her influence on both.
This conversation with Suzanne Farrell and Paul Holdengräber was held in partnership with LIVE from the NYPL, and the Friends of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Suzanne Farrell, one of George Balanchine’s most celebrated muses, is a legendary figure in the ballet world. Born in Cincinnati, Farrell moved to New York City in 1960 after winning a Ford Foundation scholarship at the School of American Ballet. One year later, she joined Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. Her unique combination of musical, physical, and dramatic gifts quickly ignited Balanchine’s imagination. By the mid 1960s, she was Balanchine’s most celebrated ballerina. During her twenty-eight years performing on stage, she danced a repertory of more than one hundred ballets, nearly a third of which were composed expressly for her by Balanchine and other choreographers, including Jerome Robbins and Maurice Béjart. To ensure the preservation of Balanchine’s legacy, she founded The Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in 2001, and announced the formal creation of the Balanchine Preservation Initiative in February 2007.