A Conversation with Robert Fairchild
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
New York New York
February 23, 2012
By Michael Popkin
Copyright 2012 © by Alexandra Tomolonis
(Robert Fairchild, Photo by Paul Kolnik)
The following interview was published in DanceView Magazine, a Quarterly Review of Dance, Vol. 29, No. 2, Spring 2012 (Copyright © 2012 by Alexandra Tomolonis) and is reproduced here by the courtesy of the publisher.
At only twenty-four years old, Robert Fairchild is one of the elite male dancers in America. Born and trained in Salt Lake City, Utah, he came to New York to attend summer intensives at the School of American Ballet in 2002 and 2003. Thereafter, his meteoric rise at New York City Ballet saw him dance principal roles as an apprentice in 2005, promoted to soloist in 2007 when Peter Martins created the starring male role Romeo + Juliet on him, and promoted to principal dancer in 2009. With his unique bend of personality, strength, interpretive skill and sensitivity on stage, he became the undoubted star of the company’s “Architecture of Dance” festival in the spring of 2010 when he created roles in Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement, Wayne McGregor’s Outlier, and Melissa Barak’s Call Me Ben all within a few short weeks. With a repertory that at this point includes among other major roles, Balanchine’s Apollo, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in Three Movements, Scotch Symphony, Who Cares and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue; Robbins’ Opus 19/The Dreamer, Fancy Free and West Side Story Suite, and a new leading roles this fall and winter in both Martins’ Ocean’s Kingdom and Christopher Wheeldon’s Les Carillons, he has taken over large portions of the repertories formerly danced by Jacques D’Amboise and Peter Boal.
DanceView: Your sister, New York City Ballet principal dancer Megan Fairchild, has related how she got you to attend SAB as a teenager, but I’ve never actually heard the story from you. Tell me how you came to be a ballet dancer.
Fairchild: When we were really young Megan would come back from dance practices and show me her routines. And oftentimes I would be there watching anyway because we didn’t have a babysitter so we would go watch in the studio. At the very beginning this was when I was really young, probably three to five, and I got into it because it looked like so much fun that I wanted to try it for myself. And then my parents would bring home old Fred Astaire movies and Gene Kelly videos and I got hooked. I loved it. It was infectious and that’s the line I went down, doing a lot of tap and jazz in the beginning but also ballet. It was one of those tap, jazz and ballet studios. But ballet was never my main focus until Megan saw one of my competition videos when I was probably about thirteen and said “Robbie you really need to think about cleaning up your technique.” So I came here for a summer course when I was fifteen and loved it. I’d never seen ballet of this caliber and such powerful and amazing male dancers, mainly Peter Boal, because he was my teacher during the day and I’d go to see him perform at night. It was an unbelievable opportunity to be in close quarters with someone like that. So then I went back home for the year, quit my jazz studio, and studied straight ballet; and came back for one more summer, before staying the year and the natural progression that happens in school.
DanceView: Tell me about the competition videos that Megan saw. What was that about?
Fairchild: I came up through the competition circuit. Actually they’re competition conventions. It’s a national tour. You go to regional competitions and take classes with the teachers who are part of the circuit. These were teachers from Steps or Los Angeles. Leslie Browne came in and so did Desmond Richardson. So these were a lot of established professionals and you really got to learn from them and would go perform for them that night. They sat down, watched you perform, and judged you. It’s both great exposure and a great performance opportunity.
DanceView: Do you think those years contribute something special to your development, that’s persisted besides what you got at SAB?
Fairchild: Definitely as far as dealing with competition and being able to make a performance happen. Doing the circuit, you have to go out there, get over the nerves of thinking, “I’m not good enough,” and I’m not this, or that or the other. I do think we all struggle with that, but that circuit taught me to say: “The show’s going to go on and I’m going to make this happen.” And to have that opportunity a lot when you’re very young helps you feel more comfortable when you’re on stage later on.
DanceView: You’re growing up in Salt Lake City but some of these competitions are in L.A. or elsewhere. How did that work?
Fairchild: Well, they all came through Salt Lake, so we would do the regionals and, if we did well in the completion, then would go to the nationals. And there you’d get to work even more closely with these choreographers, who were doing things in film and in concerts and such. So it was a good avenue to meet people, network, and be seen.
DanceView: And obviously your parents are making a lot of sacrifices – they’re taking you to these things.
Fairchild: I feel like my mom lived in the car, just sitting and waiting for us to be done. Behind any dancer, you’ve got to have incredible parents or an incredible caretaker or whoever’s looking after you, because there’s just no way you can do it on your own at twelve or thirteen years old.
DanceView: Did you have issues catching up technique wise when you came to SAB?
Fairchild: Oh, I feel like I still do. One thing I felt I lacked was natural ballet facility. Right now I feel at home in all of the jazzy things we do here but I still consider myself behind in things like longer lines and more flexibility. That’s what I mean by facility. In a way I think it actually helps me because I’ll never think I’m totally there and will always want to keep pushing, but it’s really all-inclusive. It’s a constant discovery to find your body’s natural placement, what engages for a certain movement, and what doesn’t. Every day at the barre your body’s in a different place than it was the day before; because you’ve had all these rehearsals doing different ballets, and a lot of my rep is the more neo-classical and the contemporary stuff and jazzy things. But I do get the opportunities to do some of the more classical roles and I find that, when I’m rehearsing the classical things during the day, it’s easier for me to get stronger with it. Whereas, if my only classical thing in the day is class, and I don’t rehearse it later on in the day, it’s hard to maintain that kind of placement, synchronization and coordination.
DanceView: I saw you in Apollo last winter. Do you call that a neo-classical or classical role.
Fairchild: I would say that’s neo-classical, just because it reminds me so much of Duo Concertant, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto. I don’t know whether that’s just because it’s Stravinsky music, but all those ballets remind me of the same quality.
(Photo by Paul Kolnik, Robert Fairchild in "Stravinsky Violin Concerto")
I also think it’s because Violin Concerto and Duo were choreographed on Peter Martins and he was also so known for his Apollo, and because I also watched Nikolai Hübbe and Peter Boal both dance those ballets when I was at school. So I guess I relate all of them together. But as far as classical goes, it would be ballets like Nutcracker, Swan Lake, things that are just black and white and that you really just need to nail.
DanceView: There’s not that much in the City Ballet repertory compared to the other things.
Fairchild: It’s true. But I would consider Donizetti Variations, Raymonda Variations, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Theme and Variations – all of that would be classical too and I think that’s what drew me to ballet. Because I felt really comfortable in jazz but wanted to be stimulated and to keep pursuing. I have this drive, and ballet fit the bill because I wasn’t there yet, I’m still not there, and it gives me the motivation to keep pursuing.
DanceView: Did Partnering come to you naturally?
Fairchild: Yes. I remember Peter Martins coming up to me at a side performance for one of the donor’s birthdays. They had requested that Sterling Hyltin and I dance for a function. It must have been when we doing Romeo + Juliet, and that was when I started to get a lot of things really young, and he said, “You get so much further faster if you’re a good partner than if you’re just a good dancer.” Because the partnering in the pas de deux is a main thing at this company. I think they’re so beautiful. Balanchine is all about the woman and that’s just the vehicle to do the more featured dancing roles. So I remembered that, and didn’t think that he didn’t like my dancing, but knew that he was saying, “Your partnering is good and is going to help you get further.”
DanceView: How did you develop that skill?
Fairchild: I was at a ballet school in Utah where I was the only boy; and all these girls needed a partner. This was when I was studying at the Jacqueline College School of Ballet. She was really good and really good to me and had a company, Utah Regional Ballet. I performed with them and our partnering classes would be pretty much just me with all these girls. It was very basic and I learned how to move with them.
DanceView: Can you talk about what goes into good partnering?
Fairchild: It’s all coordination. Because there are certain lifts that you wouldn’t think would be a problem at all, but if you don’t have the coordination, it won’t happen. So you’re going for a lift, but if she pliés before you’re ready, then it’s no good. You have to plié with her, and lift her just at the moment her foot is pushing off the floor, with your hands going up at the same time as her body, and so that it’s timed as perfectly, and is as easy as can be. But also the girl has to let the guy do it. Which is really hard for some girls to do, because they might get stuck with a bad partner early on and learn to do it themselves; because originally that’s what they needed to do for the show. So it’s a challenge sometimes and it’s funny to say to your partner, “Stop doing anything here, you need to let me move you,” and mainly the guy is in charge. He’s the driving force. And if the girl’s responsive to that, then ideally you’re going to find the coordination.
DanceView: You’ve danced with pretty much all the principal women in the company. Let’s talk about a few. For instance, you danced with Wendy Whalen in Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement two seasons ago, where you originated the leading roles; and this winter again with her in Christopher Wheeldon’s new ballet, Les Carillons. Can you talk about partnering her and what makes her special?
Fairchild: The big challenge for me is getting over that it’s Wendy Whalen. I get so careful that sometimes I get behind the music and don’t do things I should because I don’t want to screw up. You know, she’s Wendy! And getting to see her when I was in the school, she was a huge idol of mine, and now to dance with her sometimes . . . We were having some trouble on this last Wheeldon ballet because it’s such a quiet moment, there’s not a lot happening; I was so nervous and it’s all really slow walking with her, carrying her into promenade and things like that, and she kept telling me, “Just stay really grounded,” and by the end we started to get it. She’s easy to work with because she knows exactly where she wants to be but I have to be careful because she’s so responsive that when you do something, it’s really important to give her the right impetus for a movement. Because one thing that’s different about Wendy is that she’ll respond to what you’re doing in just that performance, as opposed to what you’ll do some other night.
(Photo by Paul Kolnik, Wendy Whelan and Robert Fairchild in "Les Carillons")
DanceView: And that same weekend you partnered Sara Mearns in the New York premiere of Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse.
Fairchild: Well she was just an animal in that and I loved it. We both felt that same energy. I’ve gotten to dance with her more lately, especially in Oceans Kingdom - Peter Martins’ ballet with Paul McCartney – this past fall, and I really get along with her. We have a great connection and I think we both responded to the music in DGV the same way, and so it was easy to give, and take, and move around the stage, because we had that thing going. She’s so intense.
DancevView: Critics have described her as emotional. Can a dancer be physically emotional?
Fairchild: I think that the ultimate goal is to find emotion in your dancing. It’s easy to show what’s happening on your face. But to get that feeling and emotion in your fingertips and your body, in the way you move across the floor, the way you touch somebody else, that’s the ideal kind of emotion you want to show.
DanceView: You were also with Tiler Peck this season in “The Man I Love” in Who Cares. What about working with Tiler?
Fairchild: She’s so coordinated and that pas was really special. I’ve known Tiler forever because we came up in the competition circuit together and that’s how we met. When she was eleven and I was thirteen. I’ve gotten to dance with her a few times but especially in “The Man I Love” we have the same approach for the movement. There’s rarely a time when our arms won’t be in the right place for each other, or one of us will go before the other; and when you share the same musicality, things just unfold.
(Photo by Paul Kolnik, Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck in "The Man I Love" from "Who Cares")
DanceView: Ballet is an art of perfection and I think any successful dancer has to come to terms with that. Have you struggled with perfectionism and what’s your history of making peace with that aspect of being a dancer?
Fairchild: The most important thing with perfectionism for me is not comparing myself to another dancer. And it’s so hard because there are several casts to every ballet and there are so many people in class with you every day, that how do you separate yourself as an individual? Not comparing is the key for me. Because I will always want more from myself but it remains positive when I don’t compare my work to somebody else’s. I like to watch others dance to see their interpretation of a role and even sometimes to see what I don’t want to do. So to be able to share in that way, but when it comes to my performance, just to focus on enjoying it and on having fun because I always tell myself this is so hard, but as long as it’s fun, do it.
DanceView: Isn’t that easier said then done, how do you pull that off?
Fairchild: You really don’t have any choice; because you’re put in a position where you have to go out and deliver. You have to pick yourself up and get out there. So I always tell myself, “You’re going to perform whether you like it or not. It’s going happen, so you might as well enjoy it.” And I think it’s the consistency of getting out there, even when you feel uncomfortable, that stretches you. When you’re uncomfortable is when you grow the most, so that when you come back to those roles they’re not as difficult emotionally.
DanceView: Tell me roles that you’ve gone through that with.
Fairchild: That would be Opus 19/The Dreamer and Apollo.
DanceView: You danced Apollo once in Washington, D.C. and then not until more than a year later here in New York.
Fairchild: Yeah, because I got injured and then wasn’t able to do it for a long time. So I kind of got a complex about it but then danced it last fall and felt much better. Opus 19, though, was just so hard despite the fact that at first I felt that it was more suited to me and that I could connect with it emotionally. But I struggled with it all the same. But as far as Apollo goes, I felt as if I didn’t deserve it, or wouldn’t live up to it. So I put way to much pressure on myself and I think that’s why I ended up getting injured. Because I was just rehearsing, and rehearsing and wanted to live up to it. I respected the ballet so much and didn’t want to screw it up.
DanceView: These were both Peter Boal’s roles when you were at the school. Do you think that living up to what you’d seen him do had something to do with it? Talk a little more about Peter’s influence on you.
Fairchild: At first it was his example, but it’s funny you should ask that because he actually ended up helping me with both of those roles. But in the beginning again when I was at SAB, I just felt like there was a similarity between him and I because he was such a quiet guy in general. And it’s funny that I found that to be a similarity, because I’m not a quiet guy at all, I’m always the one talking in the back of the studio. But I felt like there was a kind of reverence in his dancing, a quality in the way he approached it that maybe I didn’t have, but wanted to emulate because I respected it so much. And during my two years at the school he was my main teacher but he didn’t say a lot. Actually, I remember that most of the corrections I got were about my thumbs – keeping my thumbs down. So it wasn’t anything like pep talks, but I just followed his example because I respected. And I’m really grateful for that. And for Opus 19 and for Apollo I asked him to help me out. For Opus 19 especially: he was in Seattle, so he called me and we both played the video while he was on the phone with me. And because he worked with Jerome Robbins on it, he was telling me what Jerry used to tell him about it. So I just have notes and notes on this one ballet, and I’ll be so excited when it comes back again to explore even more.
DanceView: You danced it with Janie Taylor, didn’t you?
Fairchild: With Janie Taylor and I also got to do it with Wendy Whelan once. And then for Apollo, I was freaking out in Washington, D.C., just before I had to dance it. I really just felt like I wasn’t being guided like I needed to be in it. So I contacted him on Facebook and he wrote me just a small paragraph, but it was what I needed to hear. It was like he knew, to a T, what I needed.
(Photo by Paul Kolnik, Robert Fairchild in "Apollo")
DanceView: What did he say?
Fairchild: I can paraphrase it. He just explained my character. He said, “You’re a colt. You’re a ruffian and you’re this young boy.” Just the way he described how you start and what the muses mean to you. How they’re your teachers but the first two don’t have what you’re looking for. But it’s not a romantic thing with the last one, either. Instead it’s this infatuation with her gift. And you don’t take your eyes off of what she’s telling you. You soak up every last thing. And then: “Don’t be a God at the beginning, save it until the end because it’s so much more effective.” And he finished it up by saying, “Just enjoy the physicality of the movement because it’s so rewarding.” Pretty cool stuff.
DanceView: What was the injury that kept you out of Apollo for a year?
Fairchild: It was my calf and Apollo is all on your toes with bent leg and it’s all just so calfy.
DanceView: It must have been quite a thrill to come back to it in New York and more or less nail it.
Fairchild: I will say that being injured was a huge growing process for me. I think it always is for a dancer. You have to dig down really deep because there you were dancing every day - just picking yourself up, telling yourself you can do it, and then going out there and doing it. It’s a routine and a habit. But then you’re injured and don’t have that opportunity and outlet to grow. You grow as a dancer by facing those feelings: thinking maybe you’re not good enough, starting to compare yourself. And suddenly you don’t have that outlet of performance to work through those thoughts, or the confidence that a successful performance gives you once you manage it. Instead you’re just sitting on the bench, trying to give yourself pep talks until you get into the studio again and reconnect with that life. It’s a different kind of life you live when you’re injured and that is such a difficult thing for a dancer to go through.
DanceView: Are there moments in your still young career that are particular peaks for you that you look back on?
Fairchild: I have three. My first opportunity to dance a principal role with the company was a big one. I was still an apprentice and was understudying a couple in Eliot Feld’s Intermezzo No. 1. Actually it was my sister’s couple and her partner was Andrew Veyette, who’s now her husband. He got injured and I had to go in and take his place two weeks before the performance. It was really complicated partnering, but it was with my sister and we were excited. It was also a romantic ballet. There were three romantic couples and we were the most playful ones, and we just pretended we were out in the back yard playing around. We started in the studio and just went through the most difficult of the pas de deux, not stopping until we finished and it went really well. We looked at each other and went, “That was really weird,” and realized it was like dancing with ourselves, because we had the same musicality and impetus for the movement. So that was an amazing opportunity to go out there for the first time because I would have been so much more nervous had it not been with her. And there was that first feeling of the curtain going up. I hadn’t done a ballet before when I was standing on stage when the curtain rises – and to feel the cold air rush on to the stage at that moment in the darkness was an assuring feeling; and to have my sister there. So that was the first time and it was just like, “I’m in love with this place. I love it. It’s my home.” And I was still an apprentice.
DanceView: And the others?
(Photo by Paul Kolnik, Robert Fairchild in "Romeo + Juliet" with Sterling Hyltin)
Fairchild: That was about a year later when we started with Romeo + Juliet. Just the opportunity and the freedom Peter Martins gave me with all the acting. He taught me the steps but left the acting up to me. He guided the decisions but didn’t tell me what to decide and I loved the freedom to express myself that way. I was nineteen. That was a huge production for him; and for him to trust me like that gave me great confidence in myself and my acting - which I find such a fun part about performing.
Then the next one would have to be Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement because he pulled things out of me I didn’t think I could do. He gave me such a hard solo, telling me, “Jump higher, make it a double” again and again, and I remember we had a rehearsal just to find my rest steps - to find where I could breathe and take it easy. And this was after he’d already cut it short, because it was a really long solo and I couldn’t get through it. So we found my rest steps. But then the night of the premiere was a gala with all this excitement; and he came up to me right before the curtain went up and said, “Do you remember those rest steps we found? Forget them. Just dance it all.” And you know, I did it and just loved it. To have someone pushing for you in your corner, saying “I believe in you, you can do this,” gave me the confidence to say “I can do it” to myself.
DanceView: That’s the “Pas de Cymbales,” isn’t it? Where the women carry little cymbals and surround you before you end up on your knees in front?
Fairchild: It’s such clever music and having the women on the sides made me feel very at home. I love dancing with people around me. It’s just a different experience when you’re out there by yourself. To dance that solo for the people around you gives a sense of familiarity, less nerves because you’ve got your family out there.
(Photo by Paul Kolnik: Robert Fairchild and Dancers of New York City Ballet in the "Pas de Cymbales" from "Namouna, a Grand Divertissement")
DanceView: What about the scene towards the end of the ballet where you faint. What’s going on there and did you have a little plot that you supplied to yourself?
Fairchild: During rehearsals I asked Ratmansky what the story was, because I wanted to know what my character was thinking and going through? And he said, “Oh, I guess we should have a story, huh?” Because he didn’t consciously have a plot, he was just being clever and wanted to make this a hodgepodge. But he thought about it and told me it was like “Alice in Wonderland,” and I was Alice. Except I was a guy, so I’d be “Alex” meeting these different characters. But as soon as I got to know them, they’d disappear and I would be on to the next one, with all these different interactions. So there’s Jenifer Ringer with the cigarette, and she dies, and then comes alive again, and then disappears. And then there’s Wendy Whelan. And I love the story of “Alice in Wonderland” - it’s one of my favorite Disney cartoons. So that moment in the ballet when I fall down and swoon is like the point in “Alice in Wonderland” where Alice is lost. There’s a character that’s sweeping up her footsteps; so she doesn’t know where she is any more and gets a massive headache and falls down to the ground. So my impetus in that scene, my thought behind the whole thing, was just bewilderment at my surroundings.
DanceView: So what happens to Alex when the ballet ends in that huge pas de deux between you and Wendy Whalen with the lifts? That looked tough.
Fairchild: He finds the woman he’s been looking for and they get married. But again, that’s what I mean when I say he really pulled it out of me. Because a big helicopter lift into a big press lift at the end of an hour long ballet – It was with Wendy, so it was less difficult, but still at the end of a long ballet like that.
DanceView: You’re dancing Russian Seasons for the first time tomorrow night. What’s your role and have you given yourself a similar kind of scenario?
Fairchild: I’m dancing with Rebecca Krohn in the part that Albert Evans originated with Wendy Whalen. I wasn’t here when he choreographed it. Albert taught it to me, so I don’t know the whole story line. For my character at least I don’t think there’s a storyboard throughout but there is scenic detail. There’s one section, for instance, called “Cuckoo,” where we all come to the front and sag down. And that’s supposed to be one friend who’s depressed. You’re all at a bar, and he’s lamenting, and then all of the other friends pick up on this and start talking about their problems, until everybody’s just feeling like crap. So that’s one thing that’s going on. But as far as other things, I think it’s so movement oriented that a lot of the time it’s just focusing on the steps, and the pleasure you can find in that.
DanceView: How have you personally changed since you’ve been in the company? At twenty-four years old how have the passed six years changed you?
Fairchild: If anything, it’s made me even more excited. Just because I’ve had so many amazing opportunities here and it’s only been six years, so I can’t wait for six more. As to working with my colleagues, I look to Wendy Whelan and Jenifer Ringer as models and how they’ve been in this business so long and still remain grateful for everybody’s talent and want to support everyone else instead of making it self centered. Because it can get that way and, if you just focus on yourself, the diva qualities start to come out. And that’s just not attractive. So watching them, and the way they’ve remained so humble, has been something I’ve tried to embody and continue. Just because it’s hard. Every year a new batch of apprentices comes, often with big egos, and you can see how the process can work when you’re young and zealous. Just being able to watch that and say to myself, “I never want to go about my job thinking that I’m the only reason this performance is happening.” But instead to find the value in each dancer. I went a lot inside myself with the comparison thing I described, because it really broke me down. I mean I’m so competitive. Being brought up in the competition circuit, you wanted to get first place. And if you don’t, or get injured, you need to find the strength inside yourself to say, “No, I’m here for a reason. I’ve got talent and I love to dance and hopefully people like to watch me dance.” And the lesson for me has been to find that sort of strength and also say, “I’m doing this with everybody and it’s not all about me.”
DanceView: Have you acclimatized yourself as a New Yorker? I know your sister was probably happy to get to Westchester by way of Brooklyn. How do you feel about living in such an urban environment?
Fairchild: I have a little dog. He’s a little miniature Australian shepherd and has got a lot of energy, so we go out every morning in the park for half an hour and he just runs and that’s really rejuvenating for me. Because for a while, when I got busy, I’d just have the dog walker do it. But I miss that release, that kind of meditative morning thing, if I just wake up and go to class. It’s also easy to get swept up with the energy in the city and sometimes it’s not positive. When I’m running errands – God, I hate running errands in the city because I feel like I’m so sensitive to my surroundings – sometimes I pick up on the intensity and it can freak me out. My back hurts, I get hungry and just want to go back to the apartment. But when I find myself thinking, “Why can’t these people just not be here,” I tell myself to face the situation. I live in a place with this many people and have to get used to it.
DanceView: What do you do, then, to make yourself a whole person in this environment, particularly being a dancer who lives in the theater and studio sixteen hours a day? Do you do read, or like Jock Soto, cook? Do you have anything like that?
Fairchild: Oh, the cooking has been such an outlet for him. Actually I’m a fairly happy go lucky person. For a while, I really got into going to Church on Sundays and finding that kind of silence. But lately, I haven’t been going. Instead I’ve been finding a lot of peace in my friendships and have begun focusing in on what it means to love somebody. That’s where I’m at right now. It sounds funny to say it, but it started with learning patience with my dog – for instance, when I get tired how do I interact with him when he misbehaves; you know, finding patience within myself. So he helped me out a lot. And then I just started dating my girlfriend five months ago and that has been the most amazing thing. It’s taught me so much about myself. And I think it’s different things for different times in my life but right now I’m really enjoying being with somebody.
DanceView: Is this the first serious relationship you’ve had?
Fairchild: Yeah for sure. I was so focused and driven, and I so wanted to find myself before I involved myself with somebody else.
DanceView: Well, that sure gives you a counterpoint to the theater and the aggression on the street. It’s exceptional to hear you talk about it and I wonder if this sincerity doesn’t relate to how you dance – and that’s a final question. Not necessarily just as to you, but does being a good person relate to how a person performs on stage?
Fairchild: In a nutshell for me that’s Jenifer Ringer. Because she’s the sweetest person I know; and she’s so intelligent, articulate, and a master of her craft. I think when you treat people the way she does, you can see it in them whatever they do. It’s in her eyes. There’s nothing tainted. When she’s dancing, it’s one of the most beautiful things to see because she’s just communicating honesty and beauty. You can get so involved with your dancing, what’s moving, and what needs to happen so you can get around enough times for these turns, that sometimes you forget about what your eyes are saying and how they communicate. But you can really see somebody’s personality come out there in their dancing. When I saw her do Swan Lake – and I think she’s my favorite swan ever – she was the purest and most innocent white swan I’ve ever seen. It was so soft and gentle; and then she came out for that black swan and was such a conniving bitch; it was like fire in her eyes. So to have this huge variety, it really just goes to show that, if you keep yourself available to opportunities, you also give yourself the opportunity for your voice to come out. If you treat people the way she treats people, good things will follow.
(Robert Fairchild and Jenifer Ringer in "I'm Old Fashioned," Photo by Paul Kolnik)