Suzanne Farrell: Taking the Stage at Music Hall

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke

In 1955, the Ballet Russe came to town. It was the first time I’d ever seen a professional ballet company, and I saw it from the stage! They needed a young dancer to play Clara in second act of The Nutcracker at Cincinnati’s Music Hall. Marian La Cour, a local teacher, suggested me for the role. I was to sit quietly on a little red velvet bench on the side for the whole act. The curtain went up, and I was in heaven. Alicia Alonso was the Sugar Plum Fairy, and after the performance I asked her for her autograph. She was very kind. Several years later, the Royal Ballet came to the Music Hall with their production of The Sleeping Beauty. They needed four mice to pull the wagon of the wicked fairy Carabosse, and I was chosen to don a gray leotard with a long tail. In March 1958, Marian La Cour was giving a demonstration with the Cincinnati Orchestra called “Introduction to the Art of Ballet,” and we danced on the apron of the Music Hall stage. I was one of 10 corps girls, with sparkling tutus and tiaras on our heads. On that huge old stage, looking out into the theater with its chandeliers, tiers, and boxes, I decided that I wanted to dance.  —Suzanne Farrell, Ballerina and founder of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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