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The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in excerpts from Fall repertory

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On 8th September 2007, as part of the Kennedy Center's free Open House Festival, an even dozen dancers from TSFB performed a short program of excerpts from the troupe's upcoming Thanksgiving-week run, in the 320-seat Family Theatre. It was a Balanchine mini-marathon: The same cast presented the same program three times, on the half-hour, starting at 3:30. On the little stage, from too close a seat, the dancers verged on looking gigantic! From a few rows farther back, things came well into perspective in this well-raked-up hall.

First, there was the first half of Bugaku, in rather simplified costumes which I felt kept the spirit of the originals with appropriate filminess and colors, with Natalia Magnicaballi and Jared Redick as principals, and Gina Artese, Kara Genevieve, Elisabeth Holowchuk, Andrew Kaminski, Benjamin Lester, Marcelo Martinez, and Matthew Prescott in the corps. Magnicaballi is always a great pleasure to see, and this time the combination of outer cool added to her customary inner warmth she brought to the role made me eager to see her do the whole part. (And maybe on a larger stage, the whole group will not be a little subdued.)

While Redick was not quite so intimidating as Villella or even Bonnnefous had been, he was true to the part; helped along by what looked like a combination of body makeup and suntan, he projected the idea that you didn't want to cross this guy.

Second came the Don Quixote excerpt, introduced by Artese, Genevieve, and Relle, who had changed into black now, and had a reddish backdrop. Shortly Holowchuk, in bright red and black, danced with superb crisp clarity, the while maintaining a deadpan expression as though there were an element of parody here, a faint reference to another Don Q? Or direct contact with us? So it seemed to me. Then she was joined by Prescott, whose companionship gave her a different involvement, and the other girls returned to conclude.

You might have thought a "mere" pas de deux would go in the middle, with ensemble dances to open and close, but no such stale formulas, sometimes seen elsewhere, seem to deflect Farrell's intuition; the Chaconne pas de deux, danced with beautifully elegant nuance by Bonnie Pickard, with Runqiao Du's usual sharp distinctness seeming to me rather softened this time, was heavenly enough (and costumed in the requisite white), after the worldly though worthy predecessors, to end the little program on a high plane. Nor was this just my estimate; the audience gave these two their warmest thanks too.

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