Susan Hendl, Ballet Grasp and Dancer, Dies at 73


Susan Hendl, a dancer and longtime trainer at New York Metropolis Ballet, who staged works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and impressed generations of dancers, died on Oct. 12 in Manhattan. She was 73.

Her demise, at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, was from renal failure, mentioned Ellen Sorrin, the director of the George Balanchine Belief.

Ms. Hendl joined Metropolis Ballet in 1963 and was promoted to soloist in 1972. Her first principal function with the corporate was in 1970, because the Strip Tease woman in Balanchine’s “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.” (She “danced with an unabashed enthusiasm,” the critic Don McDonagh wrote in The New York Instances.)

Earlier than retiring from the stage in 1983, Ms. Hendl danced in quite a few 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).

By the late Nineteen Seventies she had taken on rehearsal duties, engaged on the primary ballets by Peter Martins, who would change into ballet master-in-chief after Balanchine’s death at 79 in 1983. She was an assistant to each Balanchine and Robbins in 1979 of their “Les Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” created as a piece d’occasion, starring Rudolf Nureyev, for the New York Metropolis Opera.

At first “she was horrified” that Balanchine had requested her to be concerned, mentioned Barbara Horgan, Balanchine’s longtime assistant.

“She requested me, ‘Is he making an attempt to do away with me?’” Ms. Horgan recalled. “However I feel George merely noticed one thing in her, knew how good she could be in that function.”

After Balanchine’s demise, she grew to become assistant ballet grasp at Metropolis Ballet, and for the subsequent 25 years, till in poor health well being pressured her to step again in 2018, she staged and rehearsed an unusually broad vary of ballets, together with Robbins’s “Opus 19: The Dreamer and Different Dances,” and Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco,” “Allegro Brillante,” “La Valse” and “Western Symphony.”

She additionally staged “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” for the 1983 Broadway revival of “On Your Toes,” the 1936 Rodgers and Hart musical for which Balanchine created the piece, and labored with the director Emile Ardolino when “Different Dances” was carried out on the White Home in 1979.

Ms. Hendl was a trustee for the George Balanchine Belief, which licenses and oversees the manufacturing of the choreographer’s ballets worldwide. “She was splendidly perceptive and intuitive about which corporations, and which dancers, had been suited to particular ballets,” Ms. Sorrin mentioned.

Susan Coxe Hendl was born on Sept. 18, 1947 in New York Metropolis, the one youngster of Walter and Mary (Newbold) Hendl. Her father was a composer and a conductor, her mom a visible artist. The household moved to Dallas after Mr. Hendl was appointed music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Hendl was in preschool when she took a ballet class with Alexandra Danilova, a Russian-born ballerina who taught on the Faculty of American Ballet in New York. After her dad and mom separated, Ms. Hendl started classes with the Balanchine protégé and Pennsylvania Ballet founder Barbara Weisberger in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the place she moved along with her mom.

She enrolled on the Faculty of American Ballet in 1959, taking her educational courses every day on the Kids’s Skilled Faculty. “She was type of a handful, very emotional about every thing, however everybody was very keen on her,” Ms. Horgan mentioned. “She was very gifted, with a very beautiful tender, mild model, and I felt Mr. Balanchine thought she had a number of potential.”

Ms. Hendl joined Metropolis Ballet in 1963 when she was 16. “The corporate was a lot smaller then, and all of us danced three or 4 ballets an evening,” mentioned Kay Mazzo, the school chairwoman on the Faculty of American Ballet. “Susie was a wonderful dancer with nice allure.”

Her best-known roles included the blue and pink women in Robbins’s “Dances at a Gathering” and in “The Goldberg Variations.”

“Miss Hendl stuffed the stage with luxuriously stretched arabesques and the fragile element of her head and arm work,” Jennifer Dunning wrote in a 1978 evaluation in The Times.

Ms. Hendl had a romantic relationship with the principal dancer Edward Villella that lasted a number of years within the late Nineteen Seventies. “Susie was certainly one of Mr. B’s ‘girls’ — tall, blond and skinny,” Mr. Villella wrote in his 1992 autobiography, “Prodigal Son,” referring to Balanchine. “She had a ‘drop useless’ determine. I bought the sensation that Mr. B objected to my courting her, however he by no means advised me so instantly.”

As a ballet grasp, Ms. Hendl taught and influenced subsequent generations of dancers who by no means had direct contact with Balanchine or Robbins.

“She enlightened me in regards to the traditions, the tales of Metropolis Ballet, what it was like to bop for Balanchine,” mentioned Nikolaj Hubbe, a former principal dancer who’s now the creative director of the Royal Danish Ballet. “If you had been within the studio along with her, studying a ballet, her accuracy, precision and large musicality made you conscious of the nuances in a really poetic approach.”

Those that labored intently with Balanchine might be a bit snobbish, however “Susie by no means had that,” Mr. Hubbe added.

“She checked out you as a dancer,” he mentioned, “as a musical instrument, as an artist.” She was additionally, he mentioned, wry, humorous and clever.

Ms. Hendl left no rapid survivors. “Her household was the New York Metropolis Ballet,” Ms. Mazzo mentioned.



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