TBT: Suzanne Farrell Becomes a Balanchine Muse

August 11, 2022

Suzanne Farrell’s rise to ballet stardom happened with uncommon swiftness.

She auditioned for the School of American Ballet in August 1960—on her 15th birthday—and joined New York City Ballet’s corps the next fall. She almost imme­diately began stepping into lead roles, and in 1963 George Balanchine created his first ballet for her: Meditation, opposite Jacques d’Amboise.

In a black and white archival image, Suzanne Farrell poses en pointe in retiré back, arching back with her arms reaching toward the floor, palms upturned. Her partner's arms are wrapped around her back, his cheek pressed to her upturned chest.
Suzanne Farrell and Jorge Donn in Meditation, the first ballet George Balanchine made on her. Photo by Beverly Gallegos, courtesy DM Archives.

Farrell quickly came to be publicly regarded as the choreographer’s muse, and, except for a gap from 1969 to 1975, she continued to work with him until the end of his life. In the January 1979 issue of Dance Magazine, she said, “I was made into a Balanchine dancer at fifteen. I will be a Balanchine dancer all my life.”

The choreographer gave her the copyrights to a number of his ballets, including Meditation and Don Quixote (in which she was memorably the Dulcinea to Balanchine’s Don), which she later staged for her eponymous company.