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Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Ann Arbor, Oct 6-10


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#1 chiapuris

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 08:55 AM

October 9, 2009 -Power Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Last night I saw the Suzanne Farrell Ballet in its first of two performances in Ann Arbor at the Power Center theatre in the University Musical Society series.

As part of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet visit, I also observed a master class given by Ms Farrell on Oct 6 for the dance students at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, a town next to Ann Arbor.

On Wed., Oct 7, the University of Michigan sponsored an interview of Ms Farrell
by Dr Beth Genne, dance historian at UM.
A highlight of the interview was the showing of a video clip of the opening night's dazzling performance
of Suzanne Farrell's variation in Balanchine/Nabokov's Don Quixote (1965).

Friday night's program consisted of the Pas d'Action from Divertimento No. 15 (1956), the Blues pdd from Clarinade (1964), Maurice Bejart's 'Scene d'Amour from Romeo and Juliet (Berlioz)(1966), and crowning the evening, the complete Agon ((1957).

What a beautiful evening!

Ms Farrell's coaching and mentoring seem as extraordinary and unique as the gifts she brought to her stage performances as a dancer.

The Divertimento No. 15 excerpt had the most serene carriage of arms throughout that I ever remember seeing.
While all the variations were technically secure, I particularly enjoyed the third variation of Sara Ivan, and, following, those of Natalia Magnicaballi and Violeta Angelova.

The closing reverence was classicism incarnate.

The Clarinade pas de deux offered a privileged glimpse into the Balanchine opus that no other company can offer.

The same argument could be used for the Bejart excerpt-- unless one travels to Europe, one is unlikely to see Bejart's choreography in the US. A welcome glimpse it was.

Agon was wonderful.

The four men (Mladenov, Cook, Grosh, and Kaminski) were beautifully coached in the intricacies of the musical score and projected their individual person to boot.

The pas de deux of Magnicaballi and Mladenov was purely danced, yet projected the mysteries of the score as an innocent yet searing sexuality.

My particular favorite was the second pas de trois of Angelova, Grosh and Kaminsky. It doesn't get better than that.

Bravi to Suzanne Farrell and all the dancers of her company.

I look forward to tonight's performance.

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 11:25 AM

Thanks for your report, chiapuris. It was thrilling to read. I look forward to the next one. :bow:

#3 Jack Reed

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 11:48 AM

Me, too. For the record, I'd especially like to know whether you got two danced numbers from Divertimento No. 15 or one. Your account describes the Theme and Variations part, but what about the following Andante, with the five brief pas de deux of the five women with their three partners? And can you remember much of the interview by Genne'? Like FF, I'm glad for what you've given us so far -- and for what Farrell and her dancers have given you, though, don't misunderstand!

#4 chiapuris

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 12:14 PM

For the record, I'd especially like to know whether you got two danced numbers from Divertimento No. 15 or one. Your account describes the Theme and Variations part, but what about the following Andante, with the five brief pas de deux of the five women with their three partners? And can you remember much of the interview by Genne'?


Yes, we did see the Andante with the five brief pas de deux. It's just hard to write about it without becoming prolix throwing around the words beauty and beautiful.

I'll try to have Ms Genne refresh me tonight on her interview.

#5 perky

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 06:21 PM

Suzanne Farrell Ballet Performance Oct. 10

The Balanchine Couple


The program was as follows:
Pas de Deux from Apollo
Pas de Deux from La Sonnambula
"The Unanswered Question" from Ivesiana
INTERMISSION
Pas de Deux from La Valse
Pas de Deux from Agon
Meditation
INTERMISSION
"Pas de Deux Mauresque" from
Don Quixote
Pas de Deux from Chaconne
Pas de Deux from Stars and Stripes


We were treated to the site of Ms Farrell herself, looking decades younger and very elegant in a two piece peach colored suit and those glorious legs showcased in high heeled brick red pumps striding confidently center stage to host and quide us through the afternoons ballets.
She started with the Apollo pas de deux and mentioned how Balanchine was only 24 when he choreographed it. She also noted that it was the only Balanchine ballet she knew of that used two steps that have never been incorporated into any other Balanchine ballet, the "swimming move" with Terpsichore plying the waves on Apollo's back and the "kneeling moves", refering to the moment Apollo kneels and places his head in Terpsichore's hands.
The pas de deux was danced by Sara Ivan and Michael Cook. She impressed with the calm, happy serenity with which she danced the role.
The pas de deux from La Sonnambula was next and was danced by a lovely blond Kendra Mitchell as The Sleepwalker and Ian Grosh as The Poet.
Next up was one of several ballets that I've read much about but never seen, "The Unanswered Question" from Ivesiana. I have seen small little snippets of it on video, but never the whole piece. On the video, the four men who carry the girl are lit and visable. In the performance today the men were all in black and seemed to blend into the dark background making the lit figure of the woman more mysterious and haunting. Is that the way it's always done? The girl was like some beautiful yet deadly insect that facinates and yet repulses you at the same time. Andrew Shore Kaminski made me feel both empathy and pity for the boy who yearns for something he can never have.

Next up was the pas de deux between the young girl and her admirer in La Valse. It was done well but I felt it just didn't work danced out of context.
Ms. Farrell in her notes on the pas in Agon mentioned that it was Balanchine at his most "reduced", distilling the pas de deux down to the very essence if you will. I thought this was one of the best danced Agon pas de deux's I've ever seen. The dancers maintained a thrillling tension mixed with a marvelous control thoughout. It was like a violin string being stretched just to the snapping point. Bravo dancing from Kenna Draxton and Momchil Mladenov. He by the way has a lovely fluid and powerful port de bra.
And then came Meditation. I've read so much about this ballet over the years that it had reached the point of an almost impossible cosmic event that reality could never top. I was actually a little apprehensive about finally seeing it. What if it didn't measure up to that mythical event I had built up in my mind? I shouldn't have been so worried. We are dealing with Balanchine and Farrell here. I was in safe hands. I should have known it the minute Ms. Farrell came out to introduce it. She took off her reading glasses and shut the folder of notes she had been reading from previously. She started talking about Meditation, how it came about and what it meant to her. She mentioned how young she was when Balanchine made it on her. I think she said she was only nineteen. She had trouble with some of the steps that were overtly romantic and dramatic. She mentioned to Balanchine that the steps felt awkward. Maybe he should change them? He said to her, "No dear, the steps are fine. Sometimes life is awkward so sometimes the ballet is awkward." She said that she went on to perform the steps perfectly and that afterward she missed the awkwardness. It was a touching, bittersweet moment and a perfect introduction to this most intimate and emotional Balanchine pas de deux. It moved me deeply, so much so that I had trouble forming a coherant sentence after it was over. I let my husband and daughter go the snack bar while I sat in the afterglow wrangling my emotions. Thank you very much to the performers, Natallia Magnicballi and Michael Cook.
Something that was very cool to me about finally viewing Meditation was seeing the genesis of so many of Suzanne Farrell's qualities being born in this ballet. Her lush, big movement. The off balance/on balance fun. The fearlessness of her dancing. It was all right there in the first ballet Balanchine made on Farrell.

The "Pas De Deux Mauresque" from Don Quixote was next. Another much read about, never seen dance for me. It had a lot of really funky, unusual steps that I never would have connected with Balanchine. I think it's a piece I need to see over again to get a real feel for.
The pas de deux from Chaconne was "The Dance Of The Blessed Spirits". I actually was hoping it was the second pas de deux for the principals as I have a soft spot for that one. I love it's wit and sophistication.
And finally the Grand Pas De Deux from Stars And Stripes. Momchil Mladenov was a cheeky, charming, heroic El Capitan. Very much my new favorite dancer.

The company as a whole dance with heart, talent and conviction. The little insights profided by Ms. Farrell were the icing on the cake. :lol:

#6 kfw

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 06:45 PM

chiapuris and perky, thank you very much for your reviews. Nowadays "the next best thing to being there" is You Tube -- hah! -- but you folks are great.

perky, I can't speak to how NYCB performs it, but when Farrell's company danced "The Unanswered Question" in D.C. in 2003, the supporting men were all in black. However, Clare Croft, writing in danceviewtimes, complained that they were all too visible, and I remember them as well, so perhaps the lighting has since dimmed. The website AnnArbor.com has an interview with Farrell along with a lovely photo of Clarinade and a short clip of Divertimento #15.

#7 carbro

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 10:22 PM

Next up was one of several ballets that I've read much about but never seen, "The Unanswered Question" from Ivesiana. I have seen small little snippets of it on video, but never the whole piece. On the video, the four men who carry the girl are lit and visable. In the performance today the men were all in black and seemed to blend into the dark background making the lit figure of the woman more mysterious and haunting. Is that the way it's always done?

In years past at NYCB, the men of Unanswered were always quite visible. However, the last time I saw it (Janie Taylor as the woman), the men were barely discernible. Maybe it's my eyes, or maybe it's better (darker) lighting, but with Janie's waist-length flaxen hair and alabaster skin, the woman is all the more vivid in contrast and mysterious. It was chilling. When the Kent performance was filmed, the technology for low-light filming was nowhere near as developed as it is today. I remember being an adult when Live from Lincoln Center announced that it was able to broadcast with no change to a production's lighting design. It was, at the time, a very big deal.

I should have known it the minute Ms. Farrell came out to introduce it. She took off her reading glasses and shut the folder of notes she had been reading from previously. She started talking about Meditation, how it came about and what it meant to her. She mentioned how young she was when Balanchine made it on her. I think she said she was only nineteen. She had trouble with some of the steps that were overtly romantic and dramatic. She mentioned to Balanchine that the steps felt awkward. Maybe he should change them? He said to her, "No dear, the steps are fine. Sometimes life is awkward so sometimes the ballet is awkward." She said that she went on to perform the steps perfectly and that afterward she missed the awkwardness.

Exactly how she introduced it at Kennedy Center last spring. :lol:

Terrific reviews, perky and chiapuris. Thanks!

#8 Jack Reed

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 07:48 AM

Yes, we did see the Andante with the five brief pas de deux. It's just hard to write about it without becoming prolix throwing around the words beauty and beautiful.


TSFB's performances do that to you -- you want to catch your experience in words, to share it and to have it again, better maybe, yourself -- it won't let you alone, if you're like me -- and you get stuck, right? Words! Mere words! Like Tchaikovsky said, when his patron von Meck asked him about the meaning of something he'd composed: "Do not ask me to tell you in words what my music says. If I could have said it in words, I would have." Still, my betters show me the possibility of it, so I keep trying.

And now, after that frustrated outburst, thanks to kfw for the AnnArbor.com link. I think the video there is a little old (in spite of the future date in the accompanying documentation!) because, even though it's not razor sharp, I think I can make out Runqiao Du upstage center, and he's now retired, as far as I know. (Maybe chiapuris and perky can fill us in on casting, if it's not too much to ask that from those who have given us a lot already. Thank you very much, both of you!)

Looking at that Divertimento No. 15 clip and noticing where it was hosted, I thought to look for a "Suzanne Farrell Ballet" channel on YT. No channel, but something else related to the Ann Arbor performances...

#9 perky

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 09:22 AM

And now, after that frustrated outburst, thanks to kfw for the AnnArbor.com link. I think the video there is a little old (in spite of the future date in the accompanying documentation!) because, even though it's not razor sharp, I think I can make out Runqiao Du upstage center, and he's now retired, as far as I know. (Maybe chiapuris and perky can fill us in on casting, if it's not too much to ask that from those who have given us a lot already. Thank you very much, both of you!)



Pas d'Action from Divertimento No. 15

Theme Momcil Mladenov
Ian Grosh

First Variation Kendra Mitchell

Second Variation Lauren Stewart

Third Variation Sara Ivan

Fourth Variation Natalia Magnicaballi

Fifth Variation Michael Cook

Sixth Variation Violeta Angelova


"Contrapuntal Blues pas de deux" from Clarinade

Elisabeth Holowchuk
Ted Seymour


"Scene d'amour" from Romeo and Juliet

Sara Ivan
Momchil Mladenov



Agon

Natalia Magnicaballi
Violetta Angelova
Momcil Mladenov
Michael Cook
and

Elisabeth Holowchuk
Amy Brandt
Ian Grosh
Andrew Shore Kaminski

Kenna Draxton
Jessica Lawrence
Lauren Stewart
Nicole Stout




The Balanchine Couple:

Pas de Deux from Apollo

Natalia Magnicaballi--- Family Performance Dancers-Sara Ivan
Michael Cook---- Michael Cook


Pas de Deux from La Sonnambula

Kendra Mitchell
Ian Grosh


"The Unanswered Question" from Ivesiana

Elisabeth Holowchuk
Andrew Shore Kamiski

Thomas Bettin
Jonathan Paul
Danny Scott
Ted Seymour

Pas de Deux from La Valse

Sara Ivan
Ted Seymour

Pas de Deux from Agon

Kenna Draxton
Momchil Mladenov

Meditation

Natalia Magnicaballi
Michael Cook

"Pas de Deux Mauresque" from Balanchine's Don Quixote

Elisabeth Holowchuk (you know, that's a cool last name for a ballerina)
Andrew Shore Kaminski

Pas de Deux from Chaconne

Kendra Mitchell
Ian Grosh


Pas de Deux from Stars and Stripes

Violeta Angelova
Momchil Mladenov



I forgot to mention how wonderful Elisabeth Holowchuk's performance in "The Unanswered Question" was. She was like a cool, contained freaky new species of life. Wonderful stuff.
Speaking of "The Unanswered Question" I asked my daughter which performance was her favorite, she responded without hesitation "Oh!!! that scary one! ". That's my girl! :lol:

#10 chiapuris

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 10:06 AM

And can you remember much of the interview by Genne'?


What I remember in a nutshell is that Dr Genne argued that the specific choreographies that resulted from Mr Balanchine's
work with Ms Farrell were in a sense a collaborative effort of the capabilities offered by Suzanne Farrell's body inspiring the genius of George Balanchine.

I include the website description of the interview sent to me by e-mail by Arts on Earth/Arts & Bodies:


"Legendary ballerina Suzanne Farrell, founder and director of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, will discuss her art with U-M Professor of Dance and noted dance historian, Beth Genné.
 
Ms. Farrell was the last and arguably greatest muse of revolutionary choreographer George Balanchine.  Balanchine was inspired and challenged by Farrell’s extraordinary dance intelligence, her sensitivity to music, her passion for dance, and her ability to push established boundaries to try new and innovative ways of using the body.  Working together, Farrell and Balanchine helped to create truly modern American ballets that are landmarks in the field and still inspire contemporary choreographers.
 
Ms. Farrell also worked with one of modern European ballet's innovators, Maurice Béjart, who was equally but in different ways inspired by Ms. Farrell and her distinctive ways of moving.
 
Illustrated by film clips from Ms. Farrell's career, the talk will focus on how the dancer uses her body in a creative collaboration with the choreographer to create new works, and to re-inhabit and revivify old ones.
 
Offered in partnership with the University Musical Society."
 
For more information, visit www.artsonearth.org <http://www.artsonearth.org>

#11 Jack Reed

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 10:14 AM

Many thanks, perky and chiapuris!

Elisabeth Holowchuk (you know, that's a cool last name for a ballerina)


Holowchuk's pretty cool in several ways, but I don't get the word-play. As cool a last name for a dancer as Millepied, for example? What did you mean?

I forgot to mention how wonderful Elisabeth Holowchuk's performance in "The Unanswered Question" was. She was like a cool, contained freaky new species of life. Wonderful stuff.
Speaking of "The Unanswered Question" I asked my daughter which performance was her favorite, she responded without hesitation "Oh!!! that scary one! ". That's my girl! :wink:


That quote makes me curious how old your budding critic is, perky. (I too like dance that evokes something more than just what you see, a little mystery, a little magic, black or white. The "less is more" idea.)

#12 perky

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 10:22 AM

Just cool in the way it doesn't sound like a stage name for a ballerina. It doesn't sound pretty or ethereal or too frou frou. It just sounds cool and it's fun to type.

The budding critic is 9 years old and in her first year of ballet at Fort Wayne Ballet Academy.

#13 Buddy

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 11:43 PM

Yes, we did see the Andante with the five brief pas de deux. It's just hard to write about it without becoming prolix throwing around the words beauty and beautiful.


I just saw the Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Santa Barbara and I will be glad to become prolix for you.

It was Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful !


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