Suzanne Farrell has become widely referred to as the “greatest American lyric ballerina.” Farrell attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music; she left in 1960, though, to train with George Balanchine at the School of American Ballet. She then joined the New York City Ballet one year later. Farrell is perhaps most famous for her lead role in Balanchine’s Don Quixote. Soon promoted to principal dancer, Farrell became very well known in the ballet world; Balanchine even fell in love with her, but she married another man instead. She continued to dance for Balanchine, though, until he died. She retired from performing when the arthritis she developed became too much for her body to bear. She created her own ballet company, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.,  where it still remains today. 

Lana Rakestraw


2 thoughts on “

  1. I find the role that Farrell took on as principal dancer in Dan Quixote fascinating. During this time period, Balanchine was married to a ballerina named Tanaquil LeClercq. Balanchine was married 5 times in his life, but obviously fell in love with multiple dancers. Suzanne Ferrell was one of many whose talent not only attracted Balanchine for professional reasons, but also romantically. This biased opinion of one of the most influential choreographers of this time makes me question the quality of the dancers- but obviously many extremely talented dancers emerged out of this era. I also find it slightly disheartening that Suzanne Ferrell danced herself into pain- arthritis is an extremely painful disease and it shows her passion. But this also shows that her dedication probably made her deny her own needs many times in her life.

    Mariah Bartelmez

  2. My first thought upon reading this was “Man, Balanchine sure does fall in love a lot,” and Mariah’s comment enlightened me to the exact extent of that. Wow! Anyways, I found I could relate and sympathize with Suzanne Farrell’s story very much. As someone who will most likely be applying to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (and many others) for grad school, I have a good idea of the intensity of her schooling. As a musician who also GREATLY fears arthritis/tendonitis/carpal tunnel, her story resonates very much with me. I personally think it is one of the biggest challenges we face as artists to learn and strive to play/perform at great lengths without injuring ourselves in any way. It is sad to see her have trouble with that but also encouraging to see that one can find other things to do after arthritis and still further your career.

    Savanna Lawing

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