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Farrell Ballet at Joyce Theater This Fall

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Thinking about atm711's remarks while watching Ogden again Sunday afternoon, I thought that one of Ogden's qualities - a certain vulnerability - may have taken away from the regality atm711 wants to see in abundance in the Diamonds pas. (I wouldn't mind more, either; thanks for bringing it up, atm711.) This suited her "Dulcinea", for example, made it better, if you could see it from a near seat in the largest theater in Britain, than Sonia Rodriguez, her alternate, just to illustrate - but the comparison some of us are making is with Angelova here, who unfortunately had an inauspicious beginning this week. (I'd say she redeemed herself in her second Diamonds pas and continuing in the second pas de trois of Agon.) Ogden benefitted from that comparison, I'm afraid, *good as Angelova was the second time (some were well pleased the first time, overlooking her difficulties), and in contrast to the Edinburgh playhouse, the Joyce may be the smallest theater in New York. But even without odious comparison, I'm with those like Robert Greskovic in the Wall Street Journal who found Ogden "radiant" (in DC, to be fair), but I'd agree with those who wouldn't equate this with "regal", too.

That said, the program today - continuing the cast we've been discussing, the best for it so far - was another delight for me, like Saturday's matinee. Today, my neighbor, a different lady from the young dancer I paraphrased, also admired Kirk Henning and wished he had more to do, with which I certainly agreed, and remarked on the many details in Haieff not seen elsewhere. (My neighbor evidently had been a close watcher of NYCB since Balanchine's last years.) I thought I remembered Balanchine's reason for letting it disappear: He had cannibalized it for other ballets, he said, and didn't want people to notice! Just the opposite of our conversation. I offered that he regularly challenged people, and met questions abut his methods with a little puzzle.

*Further undeveloped ideas. Sorry for the rambling. But as I am in the Joyce at the moment, I can report tonight's cast changes: Angelova and Mladenov in Diamonds pas, Ogden and Cook in Meditation.

Edited by Jack Reed

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I attended the Sunday matinee. I thought Haieff Divertimento was a little too "dance by numbers" for me - every step spelled out with ultra clarity, you knew if one girl lifted her leg, the next one would strike the same pose on the next beat, and so on. The soloist couple (Courtney Anderson and Kirk Henning) did not grab me with star quality. The men were not exactly at City Ballet standards of technique. The women were over-precise. That's what I mean by dance by numbers. The whole piece failed to flow, though I can see how it is Balanchinean, with a lead couple and four demi-soloist couples framing them.

Diamonds Pas de Deux featured Heather Ogden and Michael Cook. I thought she was lovely, romantic, all a ballerina should be (I was in row K center). But he was wooden emotionally, and not exactly a technical whiz.

But Meditation - from the entrance of Momchil Mladenov as the Balanchine character, I was transfixed. In profile, he actually looked like pictures of the young Balanchine in profile! (As someone else has mentioned.) He also had the emotional intensity for the role. I had only seen a brief excerpt of Meditation in Elusive Muse, the famous documentary of Suzanne. How could someone else play Suzanne? Elisabeth Holowchuk could and did. She lacks only Suzanne's natural beauty, but she has rapture, sorrow, total engagement in this ultimate muse-poet ballet which encapsulates Balanchine and Farrell's tragedy - that they are of too distant generations for a relationship. By imagining Balanchine as a young man, Farrell has heightened this aspect of the tragic and made it more real. I was so emotionally moved by this performance that I left at intermission, wanting the images of this central tragedy to be my last memory of the Farrell Ballet.

I'm grateful her company came to New York so I could finally see for myself what she has wrought. She definitely needs the Kennedy Center stage and more dancers. She is obviously working on a shoestring. But we are lucky she is working and presenting her work to the public in NYC. I thought Meditation was the standout, and we are not going to see it in NYCB as long as Peter Martins is in charge. Bernard Taper explained Balanchine's will at the end of his biography, and Suzanne owns certain ballets bequeathed to her, including obviously Meditation and Don Quixote and I surmise Haieff Divertimento. So if we want to see these ballets, it must be under her auspices in her own company. Any major donors out there to help Suzanne do justice to these and other lost Balanchine works? Suzanne is his youngest muse and was instrumental in Balanchine's creation of so many works. If I could, I would fund her. Can you?

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Last point taken, Eileen! Right on! I give what money I can, and know others who do. She does more with less, as far as I can see, and it only seems right for her to have more.

I chose a different attendance strategy, and here's my latest account (or diary entry, if you want):

Sunday evening, the 23rd After seven performances of the same program, I might be glazed or jaded by now, but tonight's performances were hair-raising in the good sense.

I enjoyed watching Anderson in Haieff the last few days; she's lovely. But a little tentative? It's still Holowchuk's ballet, and she shows all of it to us. One example among hundreds (if I had the power to describe them): In the early part where she puts her foot back and paws the air behind her (six sets of three), she phrases them in the music, the last one in each set higher than the preceding two. And so it went, through the ballet. Crystal clear. Just what we hear. Quirky - as we hear, and very effective. (Thanks to Eileen for the different response - I think this by-the-numbers quality suited the bouncy music, the notes and chords sometimes seemingly isolated from each other in any sort of flow, but still in an unfolding design, like Stravinsky's music often is.)

Then, Angelova with Mladenov, in the Diamonds pas. You know how, early on, there's a long horn note, crescendo-decrescendo? She unrolls her right arm toward the upstage audience-right corner. We see not just the note, but the way it's played. The whole pas was like this: Not only did she move on the note but made the accent - or lack of it - visible in her flow of movement. Continually inflected, richly enlivened. Later, for another example, as the orchestra is building a crescendo, she runs a little circle on the right half of the stage, but we see the growing excitement we hear as she scampers through here. (With Ogden, it had been more even, more like a demonstation.) And so on, and so on. And Mladenov was also as immersed in commitment to what we heard. Regal? Head up and grand she was. "Royal" came to mind. The music is that. They moved as Tchaikovsky told them.

In my view, the best of the run of this dance, and what Thursday night now looked like a warmup for.

In Meditation, Ogden was extremely effective - maybe excepting a blank moment downstage, or was she just listening to something arising within her to turn upstage and respond to? But generally, very strong projection here, and a little surprising, as I tend to think of her as neat and clear - showing those facets in the Diamonds pas - she was that still, but much more.

I want to see these two ballets danced like this again! And Haieff like that, too. Well, it's over for now, but at least I got what I got.

Agon was already impressive, not least for Holowchuk giving it more than she may have had to give not so long ago. Ballets like Haieff and Meditation I associate with her more, but here was deeper power emerging.

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I had never seen Mediation before the Suzanne Farrell performance I attended on Sunday evening. I was transfixed and mesmerized by it. What a fantastic ballet. Ogden was breathtaking. I would love to see this ballet again. I can't understand why NYCB doesn't do it. (Does Farrell own the rights?)

Nice to meet you, Jack Reed!

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yes, MEDITATION is one of three ballets willed to Farrell.

the others are DON QUIXOTE and TZIGANE (if mem. serves).

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I was at the Sat Mat performance of Oct 22---aside from my comments about 'too much energy'--I also felt Ogden was too attentive to her partner---it was as though SHE was wooing HIM---if ever Balanchine put a woman on a pedestal---this PDD fulfills that or should.--and she smiled far too much and constantly made eye contact with him. To me, the message to her partner was--love me, like me. I hope I am not being too harsh but if Balanchine felt Ballet is Woman, in this PDD she is also Goddess.

Natalia, I was Center Row J Orch---and yes, I noticed the facial emoting, too--unfavorably I might add.

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I think atm711's criticisms have a basis, although Ogden also had virtues from my perspective; and reading atm711 on Ogden helps me to appreciate Angelova's last performance all the more: Head up, she regarded her man down her nose. Cool, and commanding, I recall. Commanding the stage, not just him. (Maybe abatt has some recollections of this - it made me feel if I could get a video of any of the programs, it would have been that one.)

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