Silas Farley is a member of New York City Ballet's corps de ballet. He started ballet, jazz, and tap training with Sal and Barbara Messina in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he was 7 years old. At the age of 9, he was accepted into the boys' scholarship class of North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance, where his teachers were NYCB alumni Patricia McBride, Kathryn Moriarty, and Mark Diamond. At the age of 14, Mr. Farley attended the summer course at the School of American Ballet, the official school of NYCB, and was then invited to enroll as a full-time student. A choreographer since age 11, Mr. Farley created ballets to music by Gustav Holst for SAB's 2010 and 2011 Student Choreography Workshops, as well as a work for the 2012 summer session of the New York Choreographic Institute, and a pièce d'occasion for the SAB 2013 Winter Ball. In 2012 he was one of two advanced SAB students selected by Peter Martins for a student teaching pilot program at SAB. In August 2012, Mr. Farley became an apprentice with NYCB and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in August 2013.
Silas Farley in his Songs from the Spirit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Farley
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.
Silas Farley as Cavalier in Nutcracker. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.
As dancers, we often talk about perfect feet, perfect turnout and the perfect execution of steps. We spend our days in diligent pursuit of the total mastery of our bodies. We seek to fully conquer space and time. We want our dance to be perfect, which is a powerful incarnation of our deeper human longing for personal perfection.
But in dance, as in life itself, there is no perfection in the sense of a state of flawlessness at which we can arrive. Our humanity keeps us from that.
However, there is always perfection in the sense of formation: the unending process of refinement. Incrementally progressing through sustained training and exploration is what gives the dance life its vitality. I believe that this process is for our good, because it provides us with the opportunity to cultivate devotional delight in the details of imperfect practice, to feed our need for discovery and to grow in humility.