New York City Ballet Artist Joins Faculty

Silas Farley named Armstrong Visiting Artist-in-Residence in Ballet for 2020-21

Farley to teach advanced levels of ballet, pointe and classical partnering

DALLAS (SMU) --- The Division of Dance at SMU Meadows School of the Arts announced today that acclaimed dancer and choreographer Silas Farley, who retired from New York City Ballet in May after eight years with the company, will be the Armstrong Visiting Artist-in-Residence in Ballet at Meadows for the 2020-21 school year.

The one-year appointment for the visiting ballet artist was made possible by a gift from SMU Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences alumni Liz Martin Armstrong ’82 and Bill Armstrong ’82.

A national dance star who has been profiled in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, The New Yorker and Vogue, Farley joined New York City Ballet (NYCB) in 2012 and danced with the company until 2020, performing principal roles in the works of George Balanchine and Christopher Wheeldon and originating roles in ballets by Wheeldon, Lauren Lovette and Justin Peck. In addition to teaching at SMU Meadows, he is a guest teacher at The School of American Ballet (SAB), which is the official school of NYCB, and has also guest taught with companies around the globe. A choreographer since age 11, Farley has created ballets for SAB, Ballet Academy East, The New York Choreographic Institute, and Columbia Ballet Collaborative at Columbia University. In summer 2017, he served as the choreographer for the Practicing Silence workshop at Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan, Conn. For this, he collaborated with poet Ilya Kaminsky on a ballet adaptation of Kaminsky’s National Book Award-winning work, Deaf Republic. In fall 2017, Farley was commissioned by MetLiveArts to create a new site-specific ballet, Songs from the Spirit, which premiered in March 2019 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In spring 2020, he was commissioned by the performing arts series Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum to choreograph for its Virtual Commissions initiative. In addition, The Washington Ballet has commissioned Farley to choreograph a new ballet for its 2020-21 season.

Farley was an inaugural Jerome Robbins Dance Division Research Fellow at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (NYPL-LPA), where his research earned him Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award. He has lectured extensively on ballet and is the writer and host of “Hear the Dance,” a regular program on City Ballet The Podcast. He is an alumnus/trustee of Professional Children’s School in New York and a member of the board of directors of The George Balanchine Foundation.

At SMU, Farley will teach advanced levels of ballet, pointe, and classical partnering, as well as a module on George Balanchine for a dance history class. In addition, he will choreograph a new work for a Meadows dance concert.

“We are thrilled to welcome Silas Farley as a visiting artist this year, and grateful to the Armstrongs for making it possible,” said Christopher Dolder, chair of the Meadows Division of Dance. “At SMU we have a rich tradition of teaching foundational dance techniques, notably those of Martha Graham and George Balanchine. Our associate professor Leslie Peck was a member of New York City Ballet under George Balanchine and is an official stager of Balanchine ballets for The George Balanchine Trust. The Armstrongs’ gift recognizes and continues the Balanchine legacy at SMU by helping us bring Farley, a skilled exponent of the performance tradition, technical teaching, and academic scholarship of Balanchine’s work, to Meadows.” 

The Armstrongs have been major supporters of ballet and the Balanchine legacy. Liz Armstrong is the former chair of the board of Colorado Ballet and currently serves on both the advisory council and board of directors of The School of American Ballet. The Armstrongs are also passionate supporters and leaders of their alma mater. Bill Armstrong serves on SMU’s board of trustees and Liz Armstrong serves on the executive board of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Their past contributions to SMU include gifts for the Armstrong Residential Commons and Armstrong Fieldhouse, part of the SMU Mustangs Indoor Performance Center.

“We are thrilled to fund this position in Meadows’ Division of Dance for the coming year, as it combines our love for SMU and passion for ballet,” said Liz Armstrong. “We are excited that students in Dallas will have the opportunity to study under Silas Farley, one of the most talented dancers and choreographers of today’s generation.” 

The SMU Meadows Division of Dance offers professional dance training within the context of a comprehensive liberal arts education, and consistently ranks among the top dance programs in the country. For more information, visit the department’s website.