Susan Hendl, a ballet master and dancer, died at 73


October 12 Dancer and longtime New York City ballet teacher Susan Hendl, who staged works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and inspired generations of dancers, died in Manhattan. She was 73 years old.

Her death at New York and Presbyterian Hospitals was due to kidney failure, said Ellen Sorrin, director of the George Balanchine Trust.

Ms. Hendl joined the City Ballet in 1963, and in 1972. She was promoted to soloist. Her first major role in the company was in 1970, as a Strip Tease girl at Balanchine’s. “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”. “She” danced with undisguised enthusiasm, “the critic said Don McDonagh wrote in The New York Times.)

Before leaving the stage in 1983, Hendl danced in many Balanchine and Robbins ballets. Balanchine created roles for her in Who Cares? (1970), Coppélia (1974), Le Tombeau de Couperin (1975) and Chaconne; Robbins created roles for her in The Goldberg Variations (1971) and Requiem Canticles (1972).

In the late 1970s, she began rehearsing, working on the first ballets of Peter Martins, who later became chief ballet master. Balanchine died at the age of 79 in 1983. She was an assistant to Balanchine and Robbins in 1979. Their Les Bourgeois Gentilhomme, as a piece starring Rudolf Nureyev, New York Opera.

At first, “she was horrible,” Balanchine asked her to participate, said Barbara Horgan, a longtime assistant at Balanchine.

“She asked me,‘ Is he trying to get rid of me? “Ms Horgan recalled. “But I think George simply saw something in it, knew how well she would have to play that role.”

After Balanchine’s death, she became an assistant ballet master at City Ballet, and for the next 25 years, until ill health forced her to retire in 2018, she organized and rehearsed an unusually wide range of ballets, including Robbins’ Opus 19: The Dreamer. and other dances ”and Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brillante, La Valse and the Western Symphony.

She also built “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” for 1983 Broadway’s Revival On Toes, 1936 Rodgers and Hart musical, for which Balanchine composed the piece, and worked with director Emile Ardolino when in 1979. “Other Dances” was performed in the White House.

Ms. Hendl was a trustee of the George Balanchine Trust, licensing and overseeing the production of choreographed ballets worldwide. “She was well aware and intuitively assessed which companies and which dancers were tailored to specific ballets,” Ms Sorrin said.

Susan Coxe Hendl was born in 1947. September 18 In New York, the only child of Walter and Mary (Newbold) Handles. Her father was a composer and conductor, mother – visual artist. The family moved to Dallas after Mr. Handle was appointed music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Hendl was of preschool age when she attended ballet classes Alexandra Danilova, a ballerina of Russian descent, taught at the American Ballet School in New York. After her parents divorced, Ms. Hendl began teaching at Balanchine’s patronage and founder of the Pennsylvania Ballet. Barbara Weisberger Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Where she moved with her mother.

She entered the American Ballet School in 1959, attending every day academic classes at the Children’s Vocational School. “She was a handful, very emotional about everything, but everyone loved her very much,” Ms Horgan said. “She was very capable, with a really cute gentle, gentle style, and I felt that Mr. Balanchine thought she had a lot of potential.”

Ms. Hendl joined the City Ballet in 1963, when she was 16 years old. “The company was much smaller then, and we all danced three or four ballets a night,” said Kay Mazzo, chairwoman of the American Ballet School. “Susie was a beautiful dancer with great charm.”

Her most famous roles included blue and pink girls in Robbins’ Dance Meeting and Goldberg’s Variations.

“Miss Hendl filled the scene with luxuriously stretched arabesques and a subtle detail of head and hand work,” wrote Jennifer Dunning in 1978. Times.

Mrs. Hendl maintained a romantic relationship with lead dancer Edward Villella, which lasted for several years in the late 1970s. “Susie was one of Mr. B’s” women, “tall, blonde, and slender.” In the autobiography “Son Palaidūnas” wrote Mr. Villella, with Balanchine in mind. “It simply came to our notice then. I had the feeling that Mr. B was opposed to my dating, but he never told me so directly. “

As a ballet master, Mrs. Hendl taught and influenced other generations of dancers who had never had direct contact with Balanchine or Robbins.

“She enlightened me on the traditions, the stories of City Ballet, how Balanchine was danced,” said former lead dancer Nikolai Hubbe, now artistic director of the Danish Royal Ballet. “When you were with her in the studio, studying ballet, her precision, accuracy and great musicality understood the nuances very poetically.”

Those who worked closely with Balanchine may have been a little snobbish, but “Susie never had that,” he added. Hubbe.

“She looked at you like a dancer,” he said, “like a musical instrument, like a performer. She was also, he said, hilarious, hilarious and intelligent.

Ms. Hendl did not leave any direct survivors. “Her family was the New York Ballet,” Ms. Mazzo said.

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