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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER SUZANNE FARRELL
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Star of the New York City Ballet


She arrived in New York like a fairy princess — a wondrous creation whose beauty and talent left audiences gaping in astonishment. At 16, she became the youngest person ever to join George Balanchine's New York City Ballet, and at 19, she was promoted to the rank of principal dancer. Since that time, 14 seasons have come and gone, but Suzanne Farrell, the girl from Cincinnati, is still the darling of America's foremost ballet company.

In a dressing room interview last week at the New York State Theatre, the slender, angelic-looking Miss Farrell spoke at length about her public and private life, quickly revealing the two qualities that have enabled her to remain one of the world's top ballerinas for so long. First is her boundless energy; second is her genuine love for people and the world of ballet. Warm, funny, and articulate about her art, she discussed with enthusiasm the upcoming television special, Choreography by Balanchine, Part One, which will be aired May 23 on Channel 13.

"This is one of four programs we taped in Nashville," she said, in a voice as clear and melodic as an actress's. "The name of the ballet I'm in is Tzigane; the music is by Ravel. We did the finale before the beginning because they wanted to let go the four extra couples that were needed for that part. It was very strange — like having dessert before the meal." She laughed lightly, tossing back her long, silky brown hair. "The TV studio is very small, and the camera sees things differently than the audience sees when you're on stage. Things that are done in a circle look like an oval. And diagonal movement has to be done in a straight line."

Suzanne's brightest moment in the program is a solo at the beginning, which she performs to the music of a solo violin. "One of the things I like about doing ballet on television is that you can reach many people who have never seen live dance before. About two years ago I got a beautiful letter from an older man in Oklahoma who was certainly not in the habit of writing fan letters. Now, every time I tape a new program, I think of that man.

"Tzigane is one of my favorite ballets, because it was the first one that Balanchine choreographed for me after I returned to the company in 1974."

In 1969, Suzanne left the New York City Ballet and spent the next four seasons with Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the 20th Century in Brussels, Belgium. When she finally wro............
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