American Ballerina Honored at Commencement

Suzanne Farrell
Suzanne Farrell

Suzanne Farrell, celebrated ballerina, teacher, former New York City Ballet dancer, and founder and artistic director of The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from Adelphi University at its 115th Commencement on Friday, May 20, 2011. The ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale, NY.

During her 28 years on stage, Ms. Farrell was the most influential American ballerina of the late 20th century. After retiring from the stage in 1989, she emerged as one of the world’s most inspiring ballet teachers and directors. Since 1988 she has staged choreographer George Balanchine’s works for a range of European companies, including the Berlin Opera Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet, as well as for companies throughout the United States. Since the fall of 2000, Ms. Farrell has been served as the Frances Eppes professor of dance at Florida State University.

Ms. Farrell moved to New York City at the age of 15 to pursue a career as a ballet dancer, and spent a year as a Ford Foundation scholarship student at the School of American Ballet. George Balanchine handpicked her for his company, the New York City Ballet, when she was only 16, where she performed for nearly 10 years. After performing in Brussels, Belgium from 1970 to 1975, Ms. Farrell returned to the New York City Ballet, where she performed for the remainder of her performing career. By the time she retired from the stage in 1989, Ms. Farrell had achieved a career without precedent or parallel in the history of ballet. During her nearly three decades of performance, she danced a repertory of more than 100 ballets, nearly a third of which were composed expressly for her by various choreographers. Her numerous performances with Balanchine’s company (more than 2,000), her world tours, and her appearances in television and movies have made her one of the most recognizable and highly esteemed artists of her generation. She is also the recipient of numerous artistic and academic accolades.

In 2001, she created the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ own ballet company, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. Committed to carrying forth the legacy of George Balanchine through performances of his classic ballets, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet announced the formal creation of the Balanchine Preservation Initiative in February 2007, which serves to introduce rarely seen Balanchine works to audiences around the world. The Initiative is produced with the knowledge and cooperation of The George Balanchine Trust.

In addition to her work for the Balanchine Trust, Ms. Farrell is active in a variety of cultural and philanthropic organizations such as the New York State Council on the Arts, the Arthritis Foundation, the Professional Children’s School, and the Princess Grace Foundation. Summit Books published her autobiography, Holding On to the Air in 1990, and Suzanne Farrell – Elusive Muse (directed by Anne Belle and Deborah Dickson) was an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Film in 1997.

Adelphi University will confirm more than 2,700 graduates at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels at its Commencement. Honorary degrees will also be given to the Honorable Ruth C. Balkin  ’73, associate justice on the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division Second Judicial Department; and Edwidge Danticat, an award-winning author.

For more information and the full day’s program, please contact Adelphi’s commencement office at 516.877.4695, or visit Commencement website.

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
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