The Suzanne Farrell Ballet’s Kennedy Center run, which begins tonight, will add four more Balanchine ballets to the company’s repertoire, including Prodigal Son and the Intermezzo from Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. Pointe spoke with longtime Farrell Ballet dancer (and Ballet Arizona principal) Natalia Magnicaballi about dancing for Farrell.
[A condensed version of this interview ran in this week’s Pointe e-newsletter. To sign up for the e-news, click here.]
You’re dancing the Siren in Prodigal Son.
I actually performed the role with Ballet Arizona two years ago. But Suzanne has helped me discover even more aspects of the character. The fact that the Siren is cold and calculating doesn’t mean she is a robot. This time I’m trying to make her look as alive as possible.
Do you find it intimidating or inspiring to perform parts that Farrell has danced?
Suzanne is my major source of inspiration. She is there all the time—the day starts with her teaching class and often ends after six hours of working with her one-on-one. The most important piece of advice she’s had for me in all these years is to be authentic, to make the ballets I dance my own, and not to copy anybody. I’ve turned that into my motto.
How has working with Farrell shaped your career?
To work intensively with someone like Suzanne is something a little girl from the modest neighborhood of “La Boca,” Buenos Aires, never dreams of. I met Suzanne for the first time a few months after my mom passed; they would be practically the same age today. They are the two most important role models in my life, and they both taught me to be grateful. Through Suzanne, I fell in love with Mr. B’s work. I learned to appreciate not just the beauty of the finished product, but also the genius involved in every aspect of the creation process.
You’ve been working with Farrell for more than a decade now.
Mutual trust and respect are the foundations of our relationship. Suzanne says, “It was destiny,” referring to the special bond we have, and it really feels that way.