Ballet Stars

Rebecca Krohn on Her Retirement from New York City Ballet... Plus Her Advice for Young Dancers

Krohn in Robbins' "Dancers at a Gathering." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

New York City Ballet principal dancer Rebecca Krohn will take her final bow with the company this Saturday night. Krohn joined NYCB as an apprentice in the fall of 1998 and slowly rose through the ranks, becoming a principal in 2012. Though Krohn is best known for her flawless execution of classic Balanchine leotard ballets, her repertoire is vast, spanning Jerome Robbins to Justin Peck. After dancing Stravinsky Violin Concerto with Amar Ramasar on Saturday, Krohn will return to the NYCB studios on Monday in a new role: ballet master. We had the chance to talk to the thoughtful and eloquent dancer about her time with the company and goals for the future.

Was New York City Ballet always your dream company?

As soon as I knew I wanted to be a professional dancer, I knew that I wanted to be in New York City Ballet. I moved to New York when I was 14 to train at the School of American Ballet, and I got my apprenticeship with the company when I was 17, so it was really a dream come true.

Krohn and Adrian Danchig-Waring in Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Video Courtesy NYCB.

What have been your favorite ballets or roles to dance?

Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which I'll dance for my final show, has always been a favorite, as well as Balanchine's Movements for Piano and Orchestra and Agon. Also Robbins' Dances at a Gathering... there are so many, it's hard to choose! I've always really loved the Balanchine black and white ballets, and there are some Robbins ballets that are always so fulfilling.

Can you think of a favorite moment with the company?

After almost 20 years there are countless things. In general I would say the time that I've had onstage with some of my friends and dancing partners has been so special. It's one thing to be a friend with someone and another to also share the stage with them. There's just an amazing sense of trust and spontaneity; I feel so connected when I'm out there. That's something I'll never forget.

What's the main way that your experience in the company has changed over the years?

As I was getting older the company all of a sudden started to seem younger and younger. When I became a soloist and especially a principal my relationship with the corps de ballet dancers shifted. I wanted to be someone that the young dancers could look up to; I wanted to reach out and connect to them more, and to offer support and advice.

Krohn and Amara Ramasar in Balanchine's "Movements for Piano and Orchestra." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Did you always know that you wanted to stay on with the company?

It had been in the back of my mind for a number of years, but I didn't really address it formally until a year ago. I spoke to Peter (Martins), just to kind of let him know what I had been thinking. I wanted to hear how he felt about it, which was actually a little nerve-wracking, but he thought it was a great idea.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

I'd like to nurture the dancers and their talents; I'm always amazed to see how talented everyone is. The ballets that we have in our repertoire are so amazing—it's a great honor to be able to carry them on with the new dancers for the future.

Krohn with Robert Fairchild in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go. Video Courtesy NYCB.

Is there someone who's teaching style or mentorship style you'd most like to emulate?

There are a couple of ballet masters that I've connected to. I'm very close to Karin von Aroldingen. Her undying passion for these pieces is incredibly inspiring. Susan Hendl has also been an inspiration. She has a wonderful talent of drawing out everyone's unique qualities and femininity.

What parts of your life outside of ballet do you most look forward to cultivating now that you'll have more time on your hands?

I'm looking forward to having more time to enjoy museums in the city. While I was dancing I didn't want to be up on my legs all day on my days off. I won't have to worry about that so much now, and I can spend my day off roaming around and being inspired. I also love to cook, so I'll get to cook a lot more and hopefully host more dinner parties.

Krohn and Company in Balanchine's "Serenade." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Do you have a piece of advice for young dancers who are just starting out?

What's so special about ballet is the discipline that it instills. It's important for young dancers to really understand that that is what's taught to you in ballet class every day. It's an invaluable quality for a person to have, whether they continue to dance or end up doing other things.

My other piece of advice is that you have to treat each day as a new start. Some days you might not feel good about yourself, or things in your body might not be working well—every day is different. But you have to start fresh, be positive and move forward.

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