Reverence: Willowy Powerhouse

New York City Ballet’s Teresa Reichlen brings intelligence and range to her roles.
Published in the October/November 2013 issue.

Taking flight: Reichlen as Odette in Peter Martins’ "Swan Lake." Photo by Paul Kolnik.

You waited a long time between promotions. How did you cope?
I won’t lie: It was very frustrating, especially being a soloist for as long as I was. But in retrospect, I needed those years to understand my weaknesses. I’m a better artist now because of that slow process.

Have you embraced your height, or does it frustrate you?
A little of both. It’s nice to stand out because I’m tall, and it’s good for creating pretty lines. But there are a lot of “short girl” parts I’d love to try. It would be great to dance Aurora, but I’m a huge person—there’s no way I’d make a convincing 16-year-old.

Critics have praised your versatility. How did you develop that?
I’m not sure—I just knew it was something I admired in other dancers. I once watched Wendy Whelan dance Mozartiana, and then after intermission go on in The Cage! That’s a true artist, someone who can go from pure classicism to a bug in 20 minutes.

You’re working on your biology degree at Barnard College. How did ballet prepare you for the challenges of college?
You have to be very disciplined and dedicated to be a ballet dancer. Having that drive, that crazy perfectionism, has definitely helped me in school.

What’s your biggest indulgence?
Food, in general! We work so hard all day that sometimes a big steak or hamburger is just necessary.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m a nice person? Apparently I have this ice queen aura, but really I’m just shy. I think I’m a decent human being!

How would you like to be remembered?

As myself. It’s frustrating when critics compare you to other dancers, past or present. I want to be remembered as a unique artist.