Sue and Michael Steinberg are long time contributors, attendees of NYCB, and members of the Serenade Society, NYCB's planned giving program. They visit New York every year to see NYCB perform for each repertory season. In their own words, Sue and Michael tell us what keeps them connected to NYCB and why they decided to include NYCB in their estate plans.
When did you begin attending New York City Ballet? Do you remember the ballets featured at your first performance?
We moved to NYC from Houston in 1950, but don't remember the exact year of our first NYCB performance. The first performances we saw were at City Center, in the nosebleed seats. I do recall, vividly, Jacques d'Amboise in Filling Station, Tanaquil LeClerq in La Valse, and Maria Tallchief in Firebird. I remember writing to the latter two for autographs and getting signed photos in return.
Those were the days when you had three intermissions with four ballets. An example: Swan Lake, Afternoon of a Faun, a pas de deux and Western Symphony to end. I remember many non-Balanchine works: Illuminations, The Duel (William Dollar), Picnic at Tintagel, Cakewalk, Con Amore, Lilac Garden, and Fanfare.
You have lived all over the country, but always came back to New York to see NYCB perform. What is it about the Company that made you decide to stay connected with us through the years?
The high standard of both programming and dancers which has always been preeminent at NYCB keeps us coming back. Regardless of rank, NYCB dancers shine in the repertory, always performing at the highest caliber of dance. As for programming, the sheer variety of Balanchine and Robbins works is stunning, with few duds.
But perhaps the biggest draw are the open rehearsals offered to NYCB Members. Being able to attend a working rehearsal, see and hear coaching, and then see the same dancers in performance is an extraordinary experience that gives us even greater insight and appreciation for the Company.
In NYCB's long history we have seen so many dancers perform in so many iconic ballets. Do you have a favorite performance of all time since you have been involved with the Company?
That is a tough question. After seeing the first performances of both Jewels and Goldberg Variations, we immediately bought more tickets. Liebeslieder Walzer and Prodigal Son are also special works that we love to watch.
Beyond your loyal patronage of NYCB's performances, you have been a supporter of many programs both on and off the stage, most recently our Repertory Directors and ballets by Jerome Robbins. What is it about these initiatives and NYCB that has motivated you to continue your generous support each season?
It is sheer joy to be able to witness dancers pass on their knowledge to each other and apply corrections and tips to their performances. Observing the rehearsal process up close has been such a privilege, and we have many specific treasured memories from rehearsals. To name just a few… Both Richard Tanner and Peter Martins simultaneously shouting out “right elbow” to a rehearsal of Apollo taking the sunburst pose, hearing one Candy Cane tell another that if he tilted his torso forward it would look as if his split leap was deeper, seeing Repertory DIrector Vida Brown stage Gounod Symphony and telling the ladies “look over your shoulder at your boy,” and Suzanne Farrell helping another nymph show the exact syncopation by pressing her body against that of her colleague.
In addition to your unwavering annual support, you joined the Serenade Society. What aspect of the Company and its future helped you decide to include NYCB in your estate plans?
How can we not support the future of such a wonderful institution? NYCB has given us so much pleasure over the years and it is an obligation to “pay it forward” for future generations to enrich their artistic experience and enjoyment.