Eileen

Suzanne Farrell

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Why is Suzanne Farrell not being utilized to coach dancers at City Ballet?

What is the role of ownership of certain ballets willed to her by Balanchine? Are these two different issues?

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Why is Suzanne Farrell not being utilized to coach dancers at City Ballet?

I'm not sure anyone except Martins and Farrell really knows the answer to that question, but you can find some background in this 1993 NY Times article. Farrell has since said - more or less, I don't remember the exact quote - that she has no hard feelings towards Martins.

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I always thought it was a shame and waste that SF wasn't used more as a coach. At the time of her dismissal dancers and orchestra members told me that the $30,000 a year she cost the company was a drop in the bucket compared to the money she brought in while she was dancing.

To a lesser degree I've also wished Heather Watts was used as a coach, but that is a long and complicated story.

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Heather Watts said in her Ballet Initiative interview that she understood why as an ex-wife (her term) it wouldn't work.

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Having watched NYCB under Peter Martins's artistic direction as well as TSFB under Farrell's, I'd surmise - just surmise - that there are basic, major artistic differences at work here. The dancers in the two companies don't dance the Balanchine repertory in similar ways.

I watched some 500 NYCB performances while Mr. B. was there, because I found that if I didn't, I felt something was missing from my life. Since Martins took over in the mid-80's, watching them does little or nothing for me, so I rarely do. At times, in a 1990 interview in the Los Angeles Times as well as in the quote at the end of the Dunning article kfw links to, Martins has been pretty explicit about the company's being different. It's his now.

But I watch TSFB because I get much of the same satisfaction from that as I did from watching Mr. B.'s NYCB. Likewise, I enjoyed MCB under Edward Villella, who notably brought in lots of the dancers Balanchine made his ballets on, to coach his dancers, the traditional way of maintaining ballet repertory, though when I compared what Farrell was able to achieve with her resources and what Villella achieved with his, I was all the more impressed with what she can do.

Martins's practice is much more limited in this respect, and it shows. (We had some discussion about what the differences look like to different people, in 2005.)

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