Born in Amarillo, Texas, Principal Dancer Sterling Hyltin began her training at the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet at the age of six. She enrolled full-time at the School of American Ballet in 2000, became an apprentice with the Company in 2002, and joined the corps de ballet in 2003. She was promoted to the rank of soloist in 2006 and principal dancer in 2007. Sterling was the Janice Levin Dancer Honoree for 2005-2006, and featured in the documentary Ballet 422.
Since joining NYCB, Sterling has performed featured roles throughout the repertory, including in George Balanchine's Mozartiana, Rubies, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto; Jerome Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun, The Cage, and Dances at a Gathering; Christopher Wheeldon's Les Carillons and Polyphonia; Alexei Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH and Pictures at an Exhibition; and more. She has originated featured roles in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go, Paz de la Jolla, Pulcinella Variations, and The Most Incredible Thing; Benjamin Millepied's Neverwhere and Plainspoken; Alexei Ratmansky's Odesa; and others.
Sterling will be taking her final bows with the Company following the Sunday, December 4 at 5pm performance of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®. We spoke with her between rehearsals about an important mentor, her plans for the future, and more.
Who has been an important influence or inspiration to you as a performer?
My career and my life have been touched by so many significant people who have been nurturing, challenging in the best of ways, and influential. One of those people has been [former NYCB Principal Dancer] Darci Kistler. She taught me while I was at the School of American Ballet and I was always enthralled by her approach to class. There were many times that I had been captivated by her on the NYCB stage only the evening before. It was incredibly exciting! Later in my career, it went a step further when she coached me in the full-length Swan Lake. So, it was magical for me to work with such a delightful person who had that much artistic experience.
Is there a tour memory that you cherish?
A performance that I will always cherish from my career was during the Company tour to Paris in 2008. During that tour, NYCB did a joint gala performance at the Palais Garnier with the Paris Opera Ballet. Performing in that theater was an incredible experience. I performed the Third Movement of George Balanchine’s Symphony in C with [Danseur étoile] Mathias Heymann. We became fast friends and have continued our friendship ever since.
Are there any roles or ballets that you wish you’d had a chance to perform?
For me, the ballet that “got away” has been Concerto Barocco.
What are you looking forward to about this next phase in your life/career?
For this next phase of my life, I am most looking forward to more time with my family. The word “weekend” is really not in a dancer’s vocabulary, so I will be glad to have weekends with my daughter and husband. Also, I am most looking forward to teaching at SAB and staging ballets for the George Balanchine Trust.
Do you have any special words of wisdom or helpful hints to share with dancers who are either new to the art form or to the Company?
My advice to the young dancers of today is to really be present. It is so easy to pick up your phone nowadays because there are an incredible amount of distracting things there. We all do it. But very few things on that phone will be as meaningful as not losing your focus in your class or rehearsal and, especially, watching others dance who are right there in front of you. Watching other dancers is one of the very best ways to grow as an artist and learn… period.