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Jack Reed

Kennedy Center Opera House, October 30 - November 1, 2015

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The Suzanne Farrell Ballet



principal casting, from the printed program


(with updates as I became aware)



Opera House, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, October 30 - November 1, 2015





WALPURGISNACHT BALLET Company Premiere




Oct. 30 and 31 at 7 pm



VIOLETTA ANGELOVA and TED SEYMOUR



ALLYNNE NOELLE




Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at 1 pm



NATALIA MAGNICABALLI and THOMAS GARRETT



VALERIE TELLMANN




Intermission




A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM



Act II pas de deux




Oct. 30 and 31 at 7 pm



HEATHER OGDEN and KIRK HENNING




Oct. 31 at 1 pm



ALLYNE NOELLE and TED SEYMOUR




Nov. 1 at 1 pm



HEATHER OGDEN and MICHAEL COOK




Pause




Scene d'amour from ROMEO AND JULIET




Oct. 30 and 31 at 7 pm



NATALIA MAGNICABALLI and MICHAEL COOK




Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at 1 pm



VIOLETTA ANGELOVA and KIRK HENNING




Intermission




EMERALDS from JEWELS Company Premiere




Oct. 30 and 31 at 7 pm



HEATHER OGDEN with TOMAS GARRETT


and


NATALIA MAGNICABALLI with MICHAEL COOK



ALLYNNE NOELLE, JORDYN RICHTER, IAN GROSH




Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at 1 pm



VALERIE TELLMANN with KIRK HENNING


and


ALLYNE NOELLE with MICHAEL COOK (Oct. 31) or TED SEYMOUR (Nov. 1)



JENNA NELSON, JORDYN RICHTER, IAN GROSH (Oct. 31)


or THOMAS GARRETT (Nov. 1)





Program and casting is [sic] subject to change


Edited by Jack Reed

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Suzanne Farrell's notes for Walpurgisnacht Ballet are here:

http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/ballet/farrell/notes.cfm#fallWalpurgisnacht

For the Midsummer Night's Dream Act II pas de deux (scroll down):

http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/ballet/farrell/notesarch14.cfm

On the Scene d'amour:

http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/ballet/farrell/notesarch07.cfm#bejart

On Jewels, with a paragraph about Emeralds:

http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/ballet/farrell/notesarch14.cfm#Jewels

Details on the cast are here:

http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/ballet/farrell/dancer.cfm

Edited by Jack Reed

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Friday October 30, 2015

Just back from the first performance, and still impressed by spectacular dancing of Walpurgisnacht, powerfully led by Angelova; Noelle stood out for many of us as the demi, too.

I found the Midsummer pas de deux a sensitive portrait of a loving couple, for example where she, back to him, puts her left hand under her right arm; in ballet language, she seems to say, "Here is my hand, turn me," and he obliges her; and then they do it again. Ogden and Henning gave this just the right, clear warmth it required.

The Scene d'amour from Bejart's Romeo and Juliet seemed less effective this time than when Farrell staged the first time; in particular, Magnicaballi, as Juliet, seems not to react much to the murder of her kinsman, though J. Russel Sandifer's pools of light on the two bodies, the color of fresh blood, seem to underline the present horror of the killings. But in her dancing generally in this, Magnicaballi does seem the youthful, innocent girl she needs to show us.

Emeralds, in the revised form Balanchine left it upon Violette Verdy's retirement, was often beautiful to the point of exciting, especially in Ogden's dancing of the Verdy role, with Thomas Garrett in the ensemble, and in the "spinner" variation which follows it now; the "walking" pas de deux, which follows after a couple more numbers, seemed to me not so well realized on this occasion, by Magnicaballi and Michael Cook. (A kind of quiet excitement here, framing the program with the spectacular excitement of the opening ballet.)

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Saturday afternoon, October 31

Walpurgisnacht was led by Magnicaballi and Garrett, with Tellman as demi, and I must say this is a very good combination: Magnicaballi isn't so spectacular in the familiar sense as Angelova, but as you watch her, as you sink in to what she shows, you see the music, you see Gounod's notes, it seems, detailed, nuanced, clear, rich; a rich experience, while Tellman's dancing just seems to come into existence, easy, but in time; clear but not forced; large, as though she were taller - except that when you check, she's the same height as the corps. (She and two of them are set as a trio at the beginning, a touch not seen anymore at NYCB, say New York friends here for this weekend.) And Garrett, new to us, is not merely a fine, clear dancer, but he has some sense of occasion in the way he finishes his dance.

(This cast is scheduled to appear again tomorrow afternoon.)

I was a little less happy with Seymour and Noelle in the Midsummer pas de deux; the were less a pair than Ogden and Henning last night (scheduled to reappear tonight).

But in Scene d'amour Angelova was a little more dramatic on discovering the corpse of her kinsman than Magnicaballi had been last night, though nothing like the old video of Farrell herself. (Maybe that's an unfair comparison.)

Tellman also delighted in Emeralds with her magical way of making her dance appear. The orchestral accompaniment was especially exquisitely wrought this afternoon, too. But having followed this troupe over the years, I'm not too surprised that their performances improve steadily from opening already on a high level.

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Saturday afternoon, October 31

Walpurgisnacht was led by Magnicaballi and Garrett, with Tellman as demi, and I must say this is a very good combination: Magnicaballi isn't so spectacular in the familiar sense as Angelova, but as you watch her, as you sink in to what she shows, you see the music, you see Gounod's notes, it seems, detailed, nuanced, clear, rich; a rich experience, while Tellman's dancing just seems to come into existence, easy, but in time; clear but not forced; large, as though she were taller - except that when you check, she's the same height as the corps. (She and two of them are set as a trio at the beginning, a touch not seen anymore at NYCB, say New York friends here for this weekend.) And Garrett, new to us, is not merely a fine, clear dancer, but he has some sense of occasion in the way he finishes his dance.

(This cast is scheduled to appear again tomorrow afternoon.)

I was a little less happy with Seymour and Noelle in the Midsummer pas de deux; the were less a pair than Ogden and Henning last night (scheduled to reappear tonight).

But in Scene d'amour Angelova was a little more dramatic on discovering the corpse of her kinsman than Magnicaballi had been last night, though nothing like the old video of Farrell herself. (Maybe that's an unfair comparison.)

Tellman also delighted in Emeralds with her magical way of making her dance appear. The orchestral accompaniment was especially exquisitely wrought this afternoon, too. But having followed this troupe over the years, I'm not too surprised that their performances improve steadily from opening already on a high level.

Was there this afternoon and completely agree with you. I thought Walpurgisnacht was beautifully danced. Was less impressed with the PDD from Midsummer, thought the two dancers lacked chemistry. I loved the scene d'amour from Bejart's R&J. I only have seen McMillians and Ratmansky's R&J (danced to Prokofiev) so this was a new experience for me. I loved the moonlight backdrop and thought the couple danced with passion. It was quite beautiful. Emeralds was ok/nice.

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip south for my first time seeing this company. Sad I missed Heather Ogden perform.

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Saturday evening October 31

We could quibble about some things in Angelova's Walpurgisnacht, but less so the way she danced tonight; she carried this ballet wonderfully, even better than on opening night, as though temperamentally suited to it.

And Ogden and Henning again looked suited to the Midsummer pas de deux, i.e. to each other, with that "chemistry" that was lacking this afternoon. (Good word for them, Kaysta.)

On the other hand, the opening-night cast looked well suited to Emeralds when they returned to it in a performance more enhanced now by an accompaniment of Faure's quiet music raised by excellent playing to a level of beauty that itself became exciting, without a lot of noise and razzle-dazzle.

Actually, now that I think of it, conductor Scott Speck led the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra to distinguish itself all through the program; it's just that in some more elaborately-textured music like the number before the last one in Emeralds is where it really showed.

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I attended the Friday show, and thought that Walpurgisnacht was a little stiff. Perhaps the 15-minute delay owing to the MASSIVE logjam at the will call window played a role. Or maybe I was just in a grouchy mood after standing in line for 20 minutes only to have the ushers allow people who had been at the back of the line go ahead of me. I don't know what the reason for scheduling the performance at 7:00 was, but that undoubtedly contributed to the bulk of the audience arriving only shortly before curtain time.

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I attended the Friday show, and thought that Walpurgisnacht was a little stiff. Perhaps the 15-minute delay owing to the MASSIVE logjam at the will call window played a role. Or maybe I was just in a grouchy mood after standing in line for 20 minutes only to have the ushers allow people who had been at the back of the line go ahead of me. I don't know what the reason for scheduling the performance at 7:00 was, but that undoubtedly contributed to the bulk of the audience arriving only shortly before curtain time.

Unfortunately ALL of the Kennedy Center evening performances are starting at 7:00 this season. It's a very awkward hour -- those 30 minutes make a big difference in terms of traffic and post-work-pre-performance organization for attendees. Hopefully the KC will return to the 7:30 curtain next season.

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Opening night proved to be somewhat the lesser performance of the four in the view of many of us, even though we hadn't been soured by a long stand on line. (Passing that line on the way in, I thought, What the - ?)

In the later ones, Angelova's Walpurgisnacht improved, Magnicaballi looked a little happier (and stormed through the coda of Walpurgisnacht on Sunday afternoon as she hadn't on Saturday), etc. etc. (Oh, and new guy Thomas Garrett subbed for Ian Grosh in the pas de trios in another lovely-looking and lovely-sounding Emeralds on Sunday, rather to Garrett's credit. No real reflection on Grosh, who had made up in spirit for a little blurring at one or two points, while Garrett looked well-schooled right through.)

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The time change for performances this season is an attempt to control the flow of traffic during the garage phase of the construction for the KenCen expansion project. The South entrances to the garage will be closed for an extended period. Curtain times are 7:00 for the Opera House, 7:30 for the Eisenhower, and 8:00 for the Concert Hall.

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Aha! That's more like it. But still, for the benefit of those wanting to plan ahead, when I came in around 6:40, the line was half the length of the Hall of States - from the Box Office nearly to the doors to outside.

Personally, I try to have as much preparation - like tickets - in hand, rather than waiting until the last minute, because a visitor (from Chicago) - or at least this one! - has too little experience of how long things will take - like getting into the theater.

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Opening night proved to be somewhat the lesser performance of the four in the view of many of us, even though we hadn't been soured by a long stand on line. (Passing that line on the way in, I thought, What the - ?)

In the later ones, Angelova's Walpurgisnacht improved, Magnicaballi looked a little happier (and stormed through the coda of Walpurgisnacht on Sunday afternoon as she hadn't on Saturday), etc. etc. (Oh, and new guy Thomas Garrett subbed for Ian Grosh in the pas de trios in another lovely-looking and lovely-sounding Emeralds on Sunday, rather to Garrett's credit. No real reflection on Grosh, who had made up in spirit for a little blurring at one or two points, while Garrett looked well-schooled right through.)

Agreed. I found the Sunday performance to be much better, without the noticeable little hops/extra steps. When I get to choose my own schedule, I generally try to avoid opening nights.

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Sounds like you're already laying plans, but do have an eye out for Allynne Noelle, too, as well as Heather Ogden and Natalia Magnicaballi - or maybe you already do!

One of the delights in seeing this troupe is that we see their individuality, their unique virtues, even as we see the dance they're showing us, to the music we all hear. My experience has taught me you can't count on that. There's nothing here about trying to do it the same way each time, no overlay of mannerism or affectation. It's like Balanchine's own company was; that's why some of us were in the audience.

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[Admin beanie on]

A gentle reminder that discussion of professional reviews, almost all of which are found in Links, belongs in the "Writings on Ballet" forum.

[Admin beanie off]

Over the years I haven't liked many of the female dancers featured in Suzanne Farrell Ballet, but Farrell is limited to dancers who can get time off from their main companies or whose main companies' schedules are conducive to sharing. It is a great privilege for her audiences to see Natalia Magnicaballi and Heather Ogden, two of the great female dancers in North America. Seeing Magnicaballi with the company on tour in Berkeley in the early 00's was what made me travel to see Ballet Arizona, and we're lucky in Vancouver when NBoC does one of its rare (far) West tours and Ogden is featured. It's good to read that there are other fine female dancers in the mix.

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[Admin beanie on]

A gentle reminder that discussion of professional reviews, almost all of which are found in Links, belongs in the "Writings on Ballet" forum.

[Admin beanie off]

...

Point taken, Helene, so I'll go over there about Jackson and Macaulay; it's just that their powers of description so better mine I thought to enrich this discussion by linking here!

Having gone to see Magnicaballi in Phoenix - her "home ground"? - I endorse that idea, too.

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That first trip was a two-fer: it was during that trip that I discovered Paola Hartley, who rocked "Theme and Variations" with Astrit Zejnati, whom I was happy to see, as he had done two prior stints at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

George Jackson deserves all the exposure and kudos he receives. Everyone knows Alastair Macaulay, and everyone should know George Jackson.

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More agreement from me, except that it was at TSFB last season that I saw Hartley; her presence in Phoenix - which turned out to be the end of her career - does everybody know we're talking about Ballet Arizona? They deserve to be better known, in my book - anyway, that was another reason I decided to go see their Balanchine program, and although I'm not satisfied with what I wrote about it, I was pleased with them in that.

And likewise about Jackson and Macaulay. (Jackson's departure from the Washington Post is a loss way beyond the Beltway, IMO.)

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Hartley was one of the few featured dancers who survived the transition to Ib Andersen and thrived in the new rep. I so loved her dancing.

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