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1965 Balanchine 'Don Q' film @ KennCen - Free!

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The 1965 film of Balanchine's 'Don Quixote,' starrring Suzanne Farrell, has been restored. It will be screened at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, for free, on September 5, 2007, at 6pm!

From the KC's website:

As the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Ballet, Suzanne Farrell—in cooperation with the Kennedy Center and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts—presents the premiere screening of a newly restored recording of George Balanchine’s ballet Don Quixote. This historic 1965 production stars Mr. Balanchine as the Don and Ms. Farrell as his Dulcinea.

Edited on Aug. 7 to add: It's just been announced that this will take place in the Terrace Theater of the KennCen, rather than at the Millennium Stage. It is still a free event.

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Does anybody know if there are plans to eventually issue this film on commercial DVD? If my memory serves, the recent documentary on the Kirov-Mariinsky Theater, Sacred Stage, premiered as one of these Kennedy Center Millennium Stage presentations, shortly before being issued as a commercial DVD.

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That would be a dream! My immediate reaction was to hope that the Don Q will be featured at this year's Dance on Film festival at Walter Reade. :)

Unfortunately, the Midsummer Night's Dream (speaking of Dream), which also starred Farrell and was restored and shown at DoF, has yet to be released. :(

Who is responsible for initiating the restoration? The Balanchine Foundation?

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Exciting news for us memory-gatherers. :) It would be great if this turns out to be the harbinger of further releases.

Is this a filming of one of the first-season live performances?

Does anyone know how many times Balanchine performed that first season?

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i haven't checked programs (and it would take checking corrected ones, i presume, b/c if mem. serves his appearances were never annouced and perhaps not even printed in the nightly programs) but i gather he danced the role a few times, tho' i can't say for certain that those times were all during the first run. farrell o'course would remember. my sense is that he danced the don some 3 or 4 times.

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If this is the same film I saw once at the NYPL performing arts library, I can't imagine that it will be released - even if it is cleaned up a bit. It's a great performance record -- oh my God, is it great to watch. But if they wouldn't release Midsummer, which was once a commercially released film, then I can't imagine this film will be released. It's a single camera film of the preview performance. I think I read somewhere it was filmed by Edward Bigelow. My guess is that it's being shown because Farrell herself owns the ballet's rights. As an act for preservation, this is wonderful news.

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a new york city colleague with better connections to the NYPL than i have has written me, in reply to my noting this BT post on DQ in DC, that there are plans to screen this in NYC at the library in september. subsequent to this a reporter told me of a sept. 19th date, but none of this is yet spelled out in a NYPL press release. as soon as one comes to my attention, if it hasn't been confirmed by someone else on this site, i'll post the particulars.

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It is my sense from having attended this ballet because it was so easy to get seats, that Balanchine performed the title role quite a few times. It was never announced, just the usual slip of blue mimeo paper inserted into the program. As time wore on, Richard Rapp was seen less and less, and Balanchine more and more, leaving me with the uncomfortable impression of observing a near occasion of sin.

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I know I saw Don Q two times (not the premiere), and Balanchine was in both.

One must have been in the season of the premiere, because I have memories of the original NY Times review at around the time of the performance.

It seems to me that the other was one or two years later. I thought I'd give the score (which killed the whole thing for me the first time) a second go.

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Thanks for all of the insights on this. I, for one, will not miss the DC screening. It is great to know that it will also be screened in NYC, so that fans there do not have to venture to the mugginess of DC in early September. Better to save your travel monies for the Farrell troupe's November appearances at the KennCen. :off topic:

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I agree entirely with Natalia, though I add for those contemplating travel, Farrell's dancers will appear onstage just three days after the premiere screening; here's a link to another of our threads:


Personally, I'm leaning toward a visit to DC for this happy conjunction, as well as Thanksgiving week!

As to the Don Q documentary, the information above is fascinating to me in the light of what one of my contacts at the Kennedy Center told me, namely, that the newly-produced film, which does run about 90 minutes, has clips, "lots of clips", of the first performance(s?), but is not a complete record of, and only of, the ballet; rather, it's "a documentary on the making of Balanchine's Don Quixote". Farrell and some one else (the producer, I think; sorry for the memory lapse, will post again if it clears) will speak for about ten minutes (each, I guess) before the showing, more or less as we might expect. I should probably add, though, for the sake of our constant striving for accuracy, that this contact is someone whose job it is to deal with contributors and who may be, therefore, a couple of degrees removed from those who may have the best knowledge of the film.

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Well, my contact got back to me with this information about the film, confirming the blurb Natalia posted and Dale's post:

The documentary that will be screening on Wednesday, September 5th is a Millennium Stage event but will be shown in the Terrace Theater. As for the documentary, it does show the entire 1965 production of Balanchine’s Don Quixote with Balanchine and Farrell performing.

I never knew this film existed! What a fascinating prospect!

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in advance of both the sep. 5 D.C. and sep. 18, NYC showings of the restored film that is the subject of this thread, the nypl had the first of two small press screenings of the final effort. i'm not sure what will be given out at the showings themselves, but the press kit today included the full cast as printed in the may 27, 1965 gala preview program.

i've scanned the two pages below for those interested. (i hope they can be read, when i do a txt scan, per se, it gets really huge, resolution-wise, so i did this as a .jpg. if i knew how to reduce the size of my text scan function i'd do it as such, but being techo-primitive i have no idea how to do so on my scanner.)

in brief, the restored print is remarkably clean, given the raw and rough original - made as a 16mm. film from what is presumed to have been the theater's lighting booth, by photographer bert stern. the sound and picture each take a little while to arrive at their best levels probably b/c the filmers were adjusting the camera and microphone as the ballet proceeded.

needless to remark, i asked if there was any chance of commercial distribution now that this restoration has been so caringly done, but was told that this was hardly likely. even group screenings seem to be a little hard to clear. still, that being said, the restored print will be available for individual viewing for the asking on the library's premises after the DC and NYC showings.



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'george d'amboise' caught my eye too, but i have no further information other than this entry.

and yes, the screening on the 18th is open to the public at the NYPL. but i note that the release says - 'a limited number of free seats will be available for both [the washington and nyc] screenings.' the operative word being 'limited' i guess...

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George is Chris's brother, . . .
And Charlotte's -- and the non-dancing Catherine's, too!

In the preface of Chris' book (LEAP YEAR) he says: "My father is a dancer, my mother was a dancer, my aunt and uncle were dancers, my brother and two sisters all took ballet lessons....At age eighteen I followed the path of my aunt, uncle, father and mother and joined New York City Ballet."

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if mem. serves, and, as clive barnes once suggested, the service isn't always what it used to be, there were two dates mentioned in the earliest plans for the NYPL screening(s), and both these dates were mentioned, however, in the most recent? release i've got in hand the date is ONLY the 18th. no mention is made of the 19th at all.

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