Magazine article Pointe

True GRIT

Magazine article Pointe

True GRIT

Article excerpt

With her natural strength and luscious amplitude, New York City Ballet principal Jennie Somogyi has shone in a wide range of roles since joining the company in 1993. But during her career, she's had three major injuries-and they've been whoppers. Each time, the disaster happened onstage in front of a full house. After the last one, she decided if she did come back, it would be to finish her career "on my own terms." She recovered in time for NYCB's spring season, and will retire October 11 with one of her favorite ballets, Balanchine's Liebeslieder Walzer. Here she shares how she persevered through each recovery with Dance Magazine editor at large Wendy Perron.

First injury: 2004

My first injury was the hardest. During a performance of Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.1 tore the posterior tibial tendon in my left foot, and technically never should have danced again. At City Ballet I was the go-to girl; I did all the hard stuff. I was 15 when I got into the company, and I would never say no. The week I got hurt, I had a debut in 'Rubies,'' a debut in "Emeralds," my complete Swan Lake and Peter Martins' new ballet. I had so many parts they couldn't even divvy them up among the dancers who were there-they had to grab somebody off a plane from Denmark. I think it was a real adjustment for them because it was always. "Somogyi can do it."

I went 11 years in the company before this injury. During that time. I'd see dancers go out and come back too fast, then go out again for three months and come back another month. So when I first got injured, I thought: I'm going to do this right and not get on that roller-coaster ride.

During my recovery. I had to learn to be patient and to listen to my body. If the rehab was too much. I pulled back. And when I progressed to the next level. I d do a little bit more and keep it at that level for a week or two

When I did come back-a year and five months later-Peter said. "You look great. Does this mean you can do Swan Lake?" It was hard for me because I totally wanted to do it. But when I started rehearsing, my calf was fatigued from having to do extra work to compensate. I never did Odette/Odile again.

Second injury: 2012

During a matinee of Who Cares?. I felt like my right ankle was sort of jammed. It was seizing up by the finale. My Achilles was really sore, so I went to the physical therapist, who said, "After your show tonight I'll have a look at it." And then in the middle of Polyphonia. pop it went. I heard it. I thought my partner Gonzalo Garcia had kicked me-that's the force I felt! But out of the corner of my eye I saw that he was pretty far away. That's when I knew something was really wrong. I started losing my hearing and my peripheral vision, so I knew I was going into shock. …

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