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Watch 3 Works Performed by Balanchine's Last Muse, Suzanne Farrell

Peter Martins and Farrell in Chaconne (1976), performed for PBS' "Great Performances." Photo courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

With her superb musicality, dramatic skills and go-for-broke speed and risk taking, Suzanne Farrell inspired Balanchine to push the limits of a dancer's physical capabilities. Together, the pair helped shift ballet into more creative, athletic and abstract territory.


"Diamonds" (1967)

As part of Balanchine's three-part plotless ballet Jewels, "Diamonds" was his tribute to imperial Russia and his early career with the Mariinsky Ballet. Farrell captured the elegance and majesty of Tchaikovsky's music with unparalleled grace and control during sustained balances on one leg, intertwining promenades and smooth supported lifts.


Chaconne (1976)

Balanchine showcased Farrell's softness and lyricism in an ethereal pas de deux full of floating arms and a gently wilting upper body. Later, as the music shifts to a more festive melody, Farrell's dynamism comes out in full force with punchy kicks, lightning-fast petit allégro and effortless turns en manège.


Mozartiana (1981)

This tribute to Mozart was the last ballet Balanchine created for Farrell before he died in 1983. With classical choreography set to stately music by Tchaikovsky, Mozartiana is regal and joyful. The piece's theme and variations highlighted Farrell's featherlight footwork, commanding épaulement and brilliant extension.

Teacher Voices
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In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

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Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

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Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

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