(orig. Roberta Sue Ficker; b Cincinnati, 16 Aug. 1945)
US dancer. She studied locally and at the School of American Ballet, making her debut with New York City Ballet in 1961. A tall, almost regal dancer, with a lyrical musicality and a capacity to push her technique to seemingly precarious limits, she became Balanchine's last muse—the instrument with which he conducted his final experiments in neo-classical dance (he used to refer to her as his Stradivarius). In 1965 she was promoted to principal and as well as dancing the standard Balanchine repertory she created several new roles, for example in Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1963), Don Quixote (which was almost a love-letter from choreographer to dancer, 1965), Variations (1966), Jewels (in which her classical qualities were crystallized in the ‘Diamonds’ pas de deux, 1967), and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (New York City Ballet staging, in which the extravagant scale of her technique was exploited to raunchy effect in the role of Strip-tease Girl, 1969). In 1969 she married the dancer Paul Mejia which strained relations with the possessive Balanchine to breaking-point. A year later she left to dance with Béjart's Ballet of the 20th Century, where as the company's new star she created roles in several of his works, including Sonate (1970), Nijinsky, clown de Dieu (1971), and I trionfi (1974). In 1975 she returned to NYCB where, dancing with an even greater technical authority she assumed many of her old roles as well as creating several new ones, for example in Robbins's Piano Concerto in G (1975) and Balanchine's Union Jack (1976), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Davidsbündlertänze (1980), and a new version of Mozartiana (1981). During this time she also performed as an international guest star, for example with the Royal Danish Ballet (1976), and appeared in many television dance films. Since retiring from the stage in 1989 she has taught at the School of American Ballet, staged several Balanchine works including Scotch Symphony for the Kirov Ballet in 1988 and in 1999 founded her own company, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, based at the Kennedy Center, Washington and performing an extensive repertory of Balanchine works. Her autobiography Holding on to the Air, written with Toni Bentley, was published New York, 1990.
http://www.kennedy-center.org Home website for the Kennedy Center with link to the Suzanne Farrell Ballet