Suzanne Farrell: That’s an easy question. It was, of course, George Balanchine. He came from Russia via Europe and settled in America in 1933. He started a little company which was not very successful, so he had to start over and over again. Ultimately, he founded the New York City Ballet. I happened to be born at the right time, came to the right place, and had the fortune to audition for him, and work with him, because he is the genius of the century of ballet. I learned how to dance with him. I think he was a great philosopher. He had a wonderful theory that you live in the “now,” which I think is important. Along with living in the moment, you also have to assume the responsibility that goes along with it, and you don’t take your position lightly. But it also means that you get the full value of the moment that you are living, so you don’t look back on your life and say, “If only I hadn’t wasted time, if only I had done this.” You do the best you can. It was wonderful to be able to go home after a performance, and think, well it wasn’t maybe so good, but it was the best I could be at that time. Then you have a departure point and some place to go to for the next time. At least you know you tried your best. There is always some kind of progress, and you learn from that situation.
I learned a lot from him, aside from just learning how to dance. Of course, he was quite a bit older that I was. He was 50 years older than I was. I had the benefit of all his experience, all the ballets he did before I was even born, plus the ballets he did when we were working together, up until he died. It was like I lived his lifetime in my short career as a dancer.