Reverence: A Muse's Journey

For Riolama Lorenzo, leaving New York City Ballet started an exciting new chapter.
Published in the August/September 2010 issue.

Riolama Lorenzo with Sergio Torrado in PAB's "Giselle"

Photo by Paul Kolnik

How has being tall, 5’8”, given you an advantage as a dancer?
In Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, the Siren typically is a very tall woman paired with a small man. It’s an odd combination, but one of the dream roles that I’ve gotten because of my height.

What do you enjoy more: story or abstract ballets?
I like story ballets because I love to act. I have a comfort zone onstage because I can’t see the audience. That’s where I feel like I can be anyone, or be crazy, like the ballerina from The Concert.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I just bend the heels, slap those babies on and get out there. I’m not very high maintenance.

How has being a mother changed you as a dancer? Has your 2-year-old seen you dance?
Everyone says my dancing’s better ever since the baby. Sebastian has been coming to the ballet since he was four months old. He points me out to his father every time I go on.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I knit. I’ve made myself a couple of leg­warmers and some shawls and wraps. Other than that, I like to cook. I make soups, stews—that’s my thing.

What was it like to work with Jerome Robbins?
Jerry was like a mentor. His nickname for me was “The Tall One.” I often danced a lead in his ballets even when I was just in the corps. I remember walking into one of his rehearsals and Nikolaj Hübbe said, in a joking way, “Well, if it isn’t Jerry’s muse.” I was stunned.

Why did you leave NYCB?
I suffered a bad injury that kept me out for a long time. And I never felt that I was in the right place. I wasn’t going to get to dance all the roles I wanted at NYCB. So I left pretty soon after Jerry’s death—I quit dancing for almost three years. Then I found the perfect niche at Pennsylvania Ballet.

What’s your favorite dessert?
Definitely ice cream. Turkey Hill mint chocolate chip—we always keep that in the freezer.

What's your guiltiest pleasure?
Keeping my son at daycare while I go shopping.