Reverence: Elegant Adieu

NYCB ballerina Darci Kistler takes a graceful final bow.
Published in the June/July 2010 issue.

Kistler in Balanchine's "Vienna Waltzes"

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Do you have any special routines before you go onstage?
I share a dressing room with Yvonne Borree. We like to light a scented candle, something girly
like rose.

People have talked about your joyfulness as a dancer. Where does it come from?

I don’t think anybody can hide who they are on the stage. It’s like being under a microscope.  Mr. Balanchine always told me, “Darci, just be yourself.”

What role has perseverance played in your career?
When I was confronted with something like my two ankle surgeries, I had to decide all over again if I wanted to dance. You ask, Is this still what I want to do? And it’s wonderful when you recommit.

What has it been like working so closely with your husband, Peter Martins, for so long?
We both truly love to dance, and I’ve never gone into the theater, no matter what has happened in my personal life, and taken it out. I know when I walk through those doors, professional is professional, personal is personal. I don’t think it would have worked, also, if I had not been a ballerina on my own. It’s not like Peter made me. That would not have been a good relationship.

Do you get a similar sort of joy from teachingas from performing?
Watching students grow is a different satisfaction. I’m not going to teach someone to dance like Darci danced. I teach what Mr. B wanted, what Peter wants.

What will you miss about performing?
There will be nothing like sitting in the dressing room, putting on my makeup, putting my hair up, those very quiet moments that are yours. And being onstage when the audience is completely quiet and you only hear the music. 

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
Ooh, that I love to water-ski. I’ve been water-skiing since I was 4. Peter will rent a boat and we go up to Candlewood Lake in Connecticut, and I’ll ski my heart out.

Any advice for aspiring dancers?
If you’re passionate and you love it, continue. If you’re halfway, there are so many other wonderful things out there to do. I go back to what Mr. Balanchine said: You have to be willing to die for it. It cannot be a maybe.