NYC’s loss was Philadelphia’s gain when Riolama Lorenzo left New York City Ballet to join the corps of Pennsylvania Ballet in September 2002. Born in Havana, Cuba, trained at Boca Raton’s Harid Conservatory and the winner of a Princess Grace Award, Riolama was at the School of American Ballet when Jerome Robbins selected her to dance in the world premiere of his 2 & 3 Part Inventions at SAB’s 1994 Spring Workshop. A brief apprenticeship with NYCB that fall led to her joining the corps in spring 1995.
A commanding 5'8", Riolama dances with bold attack and a vivid sense of line—she seems to fill the entire stage. These qualities served her well at NYCB, where she performed principal roles in such Balanchine ballets as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Apollo, Agon and “Emeralds” from Jewels. Exposure to Balanchine’s masterpieces made her move to Pennsylvania Ballet (after being sidelined by injury) particularly smooth—PB has a robust Balanchine tradition of its own. Riolama rose to principal at PB by March 2005, and her ever-growing repertoire includes works by Paul Taylor, James Kudelka, Matthew Neenan and Christopher Wheeldon. This month, you can see Riolama in the PB premiere of Robert Weiss’ Messiah, set to the Handel masterpiece of the same name. —Harris Green
Your love of dance has set you on the path to share your talent with others. You not only excel at it, but it brings out your passion as well. Dancing has become your life, but because of that, you tend to take it too seriously. One of the hardest and most important lessons you will learn is to not take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself. Yes, you want to be the best you can, but remember that your talent is a gift.
The ballet world is a deceptively glamorous place. The audience sees perfection and beauty while the dancer conceals effort and pain. Use every rehearsal as an opportunity to explore your abilities. Saying to yourself, “my technique isn’t good enough” or “my body is not the right shape” will only diminish your love of dance. Remember, you have qualities that are yours alone and that set you apart. They translate into the beauty the audience sees. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection destroy your gift.