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Kennedy Center PerformanceNovember 22-27, 2005


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#46 Drew

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 05:56 PM

OKOK--I can't comment on the bit of rehearsal you saw or this run of Farrell Ballet performances, since I didn't see either. But if you enjoyed Serenade with the Washington Ballet, chances are you will in the future find lots more Balanchine to enjoy. No one has ever claimed Clarinade was a major work, so I can't honestly say that I'm shocked that you were underwhelmed by it. Conceivably, if you had already come to admire a lot of Balanchine you might have found it interesting to see something in a "minor" vein... though it sounds as if the general mood of the ballet may not be your cup of tea.

It is also true that once one sees a lot of major ballet companies one realizes that loud point shoes are a recurring problem and sometimes, contrary to expectation, the greatest companies can be the worst. (A lot depends, too, on where one is sitting and the theater acoustics etc.) It's not ideal, but most ballet lovers come to overlook it. This forum actually had an entire thread devoted to the subject recently! I can't do links, but you could probably track it down.

I have always found La Source delightful--it's meant to evoke an earlier, lighter style of classical dancing (French nineteenth-century rather than Russian), but certainly not meant to be a parody. In a musical performance, the second soloist can seem as if she is riding on air. Obviously, I haven't the faintest idea why it struck you the way it did, but I would echo what others have said about the dangers (and unfairness) of making judgements based on rehearsals. I would particularly emphasize that Farrell's company is something in the nature of a laboratory rather than an institution: it doesn't have a long performing season or a school. These dancers aren't rehearsing roles they have known for years or even been watching others dance for years. So watching a rehearsal may be a little like tasting fruit that isn't quite ripe (as opposed to watching a skater "run through" a program without jumps). I assume that makes Farrell's rehearsals all the more fascinating for some watchers--those who are curious about the process of developing the performances--but it may make them less approachable for others, especially if they haven't seen much ballet to begin with. Of course, I'm just speculating--but I thought you sounded sincerely baffled by the gap between your experience and that of others, so I thought I would give it a try.

#47 Farrell Fan

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 07:06 PM

For me, one of the pleasures of seeing the Farrell company in Washington is coming home and reading the comments of others, thereby reliving the experience. La Source was the least successful, I think. I was also disappointed in Morton Gould's music for Clarinade. After all, Benny Goodman was the King of Swing, and this score didn't swing. But I could certainly see Suzanne in the part. Duo Concertant went well with all three casts. Ansanelli was very moving in La Valse and Mladenov was the most creepy death figure since Francisco Moncion.

#48 Jack Reed

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 07:14 PM

OKOK, I'm not a Washingtonian, so I don't know if the Washington Ballet's rehearsals are ever open, but it might be worth a try to see one and then see one of the later performances, as the dancers become seasoned in their roles.

Another experiment you might try if you can is to see different casts in the same program (when I did this, it quickly sensitized me to qualities of performance) even though it might seem a little extravagant in comparison with seeing two different programs once each. I notice you're quite engaged, I mean involved, with what you see, and that's good. I'd say, experiment as you can, whatever way seems promising at the time, and something will come of that engagement.

I was at the Tuesday rehearsal, too, and noticed quite a lot of "marking"; sometimes a sequence danced full would be followed by one "marked" and then another one full, or one dancer would mark while their partner danced full. You didn't say whether you'd seen many rehearsals, so maybe part of it was not adjusting to all these changes and differences.

Getting the right distance from the stage matters, too. (Now I'm going to indulge myself a little more and relive seeing the last performances while seated at my computer.) What a difference five rows can make! From this much closer to the stage the program seemed so much better on Sunday night. The biggest improvement for me came in Duo Concertant; it's not a ballet I expect to be ravished in, but Magnicaballi's deliciously clear and supple dancing made it that, and I enjoyed Du's admirable combination of articulation and flow in La Source much more than on Tuesday, too, not to mention his quiet landings. I think the subtle virtues of these two dancers just don't carry well. Shannon Parsley was triumphant - large, full, gleaming - in the principal role in La Source, with Pickard's superb demi. (There was nothing tentative about Pickard in the principal role at the matinee.)

I enjoyed the fun of Clarinade yet again, and noticed that Matson, not Mahoney-Du, cues the musicians, contrary to what I thought I had noticed. (Oops!) And La Valse just seemed more present, for the most part, as it would be from the right distance; as for Ansanelli, her tendency to draw attention to herself and her little novelties (and away from what she is dancing) was the more visible, too.

Cheryl Sladkin note: In a display case in the foyer of the Eisenhower Theatre, along with Holly Hynes's costume for the principal woman in Tzigane were some small photos of Farrell's company, including one of Sladkin in "The Unanswered Question" from Ivesiana. Back home now, I don't find her name on the MCB roster. (Another oops.) But remember Google.

#49 OKOK

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 03:43 PM

Thank you for all the helpful comments and suggestions. I not only want to see more ballet but to continue learning more about it as well, and I have taken your opinions and suggestions to heart for future (as well as current!) reference.

Natalie

#50 Bill

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 08:07 AM

I went on Tuesday November 22 and sat in the boxes. Contrary to every review that I've read, I really liked La Source. So many times the Suzanne Farrell Ballet programming is serious-tragic -- it was nice just to have fun with La Source. I felt that Clarinade was a mixed bag. Ms. Mahoney-Du did a great job with an underwhelming score -- I wonder if it swung a bit more when Benny Goodman played. Duo Concertant was the evening's highlight for me. Well-matched partners and an amazing Stravinsky piece. I must confess that I got tired during La Valse (long day at work) and mostly appreciated the costumes and the mass movement rather than the principals. I'm so glad to have this Balanchine-based company in DC, although I wouldn't mind seeing what Ms. Farrell could do with Bejart.

#51 art076

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 12:50 PM

FYI - the company also performed during the Kennedy Center Honors, as part of Suzanne Farrell's tribute. They reportedly performed the finale from Divertimento No. 15, and it will be broadcast on CBS, December 27 at 9 pm. (The newspapers all seem to be focusing on Beyonce's tribute for Tina Turner...)

#52 Dale

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 01:14 PM

Art thanks for this. I was wondering what (and, considering the last few KCH's, how much of the ballet would be shown). Just the finale -- that's not much and there's sort of not much to it. And I say this with expentant dread, the more corps to a peice, the more the camera men try to get cute or artisitic. That's why it's always best to do a pas de deux at these things -- it keeps it simple for the director who fears everybody is going to turn their TVs off during the ballet.

#53 kfw

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 02:51 PM

And I say this with expentant dread, the more corps to a peice, the more the camera men try to get cute or artisitic.  That's why it's always best to do a pas de deux at these things -- it keeps it simple for the director who fears everybody is going to turn their TVs off during the ballet.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Dale, we can hope. I thought the camera work was fine when Miami City Ballet performed Rubies for Villella in '97.

#54 Jack Reed

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Posted 25 December 2005 - 06:45 PM

I'm not a moderator, but having noticed that this thread has veered off from discussion of the mixed-repertory program of Thanksgiving week into anticipation of the Kennedy Center Honors broadcast, I'm wondering whether it might be more appropriate to continue that on another thread where some of us are already discussing the Honors show:

http://ballettalk.in...d=171353&st=15

As for the Thanksgiving-week peformances, I agree that La Source was a good choice for the reason Bill gives; if I felt the ballet was a little under-realized in the main roles, especially as early in the run as Tuesday, it's probably because - I'm sorry if this comes across as boastful, when I only intend to say where I'm coming from - I saw several performances of it under the choreographer's supervison, with Violete Verdy in the principal woman's role. The ballet was, and remains, one of my favorites. And similarly for the principal roles in La Valse. Thanks for your post, Bill, it's the kind of thing that helps me to believe what I saw really happened, although you put things a little differently, from your different perspective.

#55 Bill

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 02:10 PM

I appreciate the comment, Jack. This is perhaps an illustration of the ephemeral nature of dance, as well as my own unsophisticated sensibilities. Having never seen a Balanchine-supervised staging of these ballets, I have very little basis for comparison, but certainly am enjoying the education! I can imagine attending other performances of these ballets by other companies and, for example, comparing a future Clarinade to the Mahoney-Du tour de force of November. I should be so lucky...


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