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Farrell Fan

Spring 2007 Kennedy Center season

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I really enjoyed reading your comments about Sunday's two performances, especially since I was there for both shows as well. (I actually saw several, in order to see all the various casts.) This is my first attempt at posting, just a few thoughts really...

I agree with almost everything that you said regarding the performance and the caliber of dancing, the wonderful costumes and the melodious violin.

I have watched the company over the years and am so happy to see Pickard now a Principal. I find her to be a very consistent dancer and her promotion to me seems very well deserved.

The children's smiles during the finale of Mozartiana were infectious. How special for ones so young to have such an opportunity.

I enjoyed Bejart's Romeo and Juliet. It was the first time I had seen any of his choreography, except for the bits of Farrell herself in her documentary. I thought the corps of men did a nice job adding drama to the scene without distracting from the pas de deux. I liked Du and Hubbard together, although I found Prescott to be a more exuberant Romeo on previous days.

Seeing multiple performances of Slaughter was interesting to me, since all three leading ladies, who were just recently coached by Farrell, were very unique in their personal interpretations. And although I am no expert I would have to say that after Sunday evening's perfomance, I found Holowchuk's to be the most convincing. She and Henning seemed to really connect on stage and from where I was seated, the passion and drama all seemed very authentic. The supporting corps of the ballet really seemed to be having fun with the choreography and flavor of the ballet. I left the theatre each night humming the music.

I found both programs to have something that everyone could enjoy. Each piece had it's own special ingredient to add to the evening. And while so different on their own, altogether the pieces created a remarkable evening of ballet.

Having followed this company for many years, it has been exciting to see this group flourish. I am always amazed at what they accomplish. We have Open House to enjoy in September and then there's November's season to be thankful for. Let's hope 2008 brings us more of this company.

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Yes, TutuMaker, thanks for that richly-colored, well-tailored and finely-stitched review! You really live up to your screen name, and reading what you wrote brought back much of the pleasure of seeing the performances. You and kfw and MDNJ inspire some random comments:

I think Pickard has a little tic, which shows sometimes, and it reminds me that dancers are human, I guess, although those on Pickard's level make it hard to comprehend that propostion as a mere fact: What these - humans? yes, I guess they really are after all - do becomes all the more miraculous in the moment, whatever way we may reflect later on what we saw, for the human hints we see in performance.

For example, I know in an analytical way that the light on stage is supplied by electric current, but when I saw Pickard's Scotch begin to unfurl there at the rehearsal-tea I thought it had luminosity of its own, as though we could've seen some of it even if they turned the lights off; and kfw calls her performance "radiant" so I think he must have seen this effect too, and so the miracle must really have happened and stirred him to write. (That's what's supposed to happen. Your experience of these worlds is supposed to change you.) But I was up in the First Tier then, and I may have always had more distant seats than you did, TutuMaker; your account reads more "close up."

As to the bright red of the demi's costume, I couldn't agree more! (When the company's other prominent redhead, Shannon Parsley wore it, it made her look brunette, it was so bright.) Darker, better, yes! How about dark green jackets, just like the boys wear, the identical costume, kilt, long argyle socks, cap, and all? That's the way I first began to see "Scotch" years ago with Balanchine's company, and part of the fun for me was that the demi was dressed like the boys, but she sure wasn't a boy! (She was usually Marnee Morris or, later, Roma Sosenko, both small, neat, especially clear, quick dancers.)

Otherwise, except for the bright red one, the costuming was just as it was years ago, and I agree, they're exactly right for the dances, all of them. (I heard once that Balanchine said he had the costumes, and so, decided to make the ballet. If that's true, no wonder they're appropriate!) And speaking of eye contact, which you noticed in R & J, I noticed a lot of looking into each other's faces in Scotch; it was part of the Sylph-and-James element of that ballet for me: He's under her spell, although Balanchine doesn't spin out the whole story here.

And speaking of Parsley, I agree with kfw about her dancing and her smile, in everything she did. It's all genuine, responsive to the moment.

The joy in dancing Suzanne Farrell's dancers show onstage compares in my experience only with Edward Villella's dancers in his Miami City Ballet. And Du's dancing is dependably classically pure and clear, and his partnering seems to be among the best in the company, but I agree with MDNJ that Prescott brought his Romeo more spirit. I think even my non-dancer's eye has noticed Du's development in his few years with this troupe, and so I was satisfied to see him in this big dramatic role - development in another direction, maybe.

I haven't seen a lot of Bejart's choreography either, MDNJ, although I have some memories of my one look at his Le Sacre du printemps (on Balanchine's published recommendation) years ago, and I can see how one may take the Scene d'amour from his Romeo and Juliet as kitsch, as kfw does - although I think it's partly the choreography that makes us take the lovers to our hearts - but I was constantly struck by how Bejart hears in Berlioz's wonderful music occasion for developing stage action, including the intrusion of the (other) Capulets and Montagues. Even though I don't hear some of these occasions when I listen to the music alone. Berlioz's music doesn't require completion, but, similar to Balanchine but in his different way, Bejart incorporates it into a larger something without looking foolish, as some of the "symphonic" choreographers did, I believe.

Sometimes in ballet I'm aware of the choreographer largely ignoring what the music says or what it seems to ask for, using (misusing) instead only the tone and meter, or even imposing something alien on it. In this part of this ballet at least (I understand Bejart has choreographed Berlioz's entire score, about an hour and a half) musical integrity gives it some organic quality. For me, if it's kitsch, and maybe it is, it's kitsch of a high order.

As to the costuming and setting of the Scene, I also like simple efficiency - the darkness of the corps keeping it in the (dramatic) background, the brownish and greenish tones distinguishing between the two families - but the huge, accurate moon image on the backdrop bothered me for a while, until it began to dawn on me that this huge, brooding moon gives perspective to the story of these tragic, doomed little mortals: Action over, lives over, the moon still hangs up there, impassively, as though watching, unblinking.

Speaking of Bejart's Le Sacre du printemps, there's been regret expressed about its cancellation, twice, but I take heart from Farrell's having programmed it twice. She wants to present it, and so, I think, when she can, she will.

And thanks for that insight into Prominski's rendition of the Strip Tease Girl, TutuMaker.

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