Darci Kistler at 16, performing Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3, photo by Costas, 1980
After thirty years with New York City Ballet, today is principal dancer Darci Kistler’s final performance. Her retirement not only marks the end of a remarkable career, but also the departure of the last dancer hand-picked by George Balanchine to join the company – truly the end of an era. She joined NYCB in 1980 after performing in Balanchine’s one-act Swan Lake at the School of American Ballet Workshop, and rose to principal in just two years. Balanchine never choreographed a role for her (he died in 1983), but some of her most notable roles are in his ballets, including Apollo, Vienna Waltzes, Serenade, Concerto Barocco, and La Sonnambula. In a recent New York Times article, she said of Balanchine, “The real reality is there is nothing in the world like being talked to and being graced by his presence, by his words, by his thoughts.”
Read more about Darci Kistler in a recent Wall Street Journal article, where she shares her experience visiting Balanchine in the hospital the night before he died. You can also listen to a brief interview with Kistler on Studio 360, and look at Jill Krementz’s photo journal of Kistler from 1980.