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Suzanne Farrell


StropheSekar

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Posted (edited)

 

On 5/11/2020 at 9:04 AM, DC Export said:

Hey there folks-

As NYCB has been adding ballets to their YouTube page every week, I've gone back and visited my "Ballet Bucketlist." One of the items on there is the Elusive Muse documentary about Suzanne Farrell. Does anyone know where this can be seen online?

I absolutely love Farrell.  I thought I had seen the film on youtube, but searching doesn't find it.  There is an interesting interview with her though: 

 

I saw the film at the MFA in Boston, introduced by Farrell herself. She also spoke with the filmmaker [I think] afterward, or mayb before.   It was memorable!  Several years ago I watched the film again on a DVD from a public library. You could try your local.  

Edited by dirac
Edited to remove the duplicate link
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Posted (edited)

Speaking of on-line video about Farrell's life, we remember dancing is her life; and in another thread here, there is a post lacking details at present, but which looks like it might signal a brief on-line appearance of the PBS broadcast of October 1983, including the performance taped that Spring of Mozartiana, with the original cast, headed by Suzanne Farrell, Ib Andersen, and Victor Castelli:

https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/45484-free-streaming-during-covid-19-crisis/?do=findComment&comment=426773

So here may be an opportunity to see her live her life, as it were, rather than reflect on it.  (The broadcast included the whole program, beginning with Orpheus.)

>> No, I was wrong; Orpheus was on another broadcast, in October 1982, with Apollo, led by Farrell and Martins.  Mozartiana was preceded by Vienna Waltzes, with Farrell and Martins in the final movement, and followed by Who Cares? 

 

Edited by Jack Reed
correcting my mistake
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On 5/11/2020 at 12:04 PM, DC Export said:

Hey there folks-

As NYCB has been adding ballets to their YouTube page every week, I've gone back and visited my "Ballet Bucketlist." One of the items on there is the Elusive Muse documentary about Suzanne Farrell. Does anyone know where this can be seen online?

I've long wanted to see this as well. I don't know of any online source, but there are now some used copies on Amazon for ~$50. I don't recall that being the case the last time I checked there. (They've more often been in the >$150 range.) As I'm saving a whole lot of money right now on tickets, I think I may finally grab a copy.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

I've long wanted to see this as well. I don't know of any online source, but there are now some used copies on Amazon for ~$50. I don't recall that being the case the last time I checked there. (They've more often been in the >$150 range.) As I'm saving a whole lot of money right now on tickets, I think I may finally grab a copy.

Grab it!  I was interested, too, and also checked eBay where there are used copies for $50 and new for $200+.

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Posted (edited)
Spoiler

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/_EeY8jv1Chx0/Sc9kDYxOIlI/AAAAAAAAAR0/yLOvqwoFmso/s1600-h/bscap0019.jpg

Spoiler

 

 

If you search, you can find it for $9.99!  Not the VHS tape either, apparently; it's the DVD.

Reading mention of "Elusive Muse" reminds me of one of the many valuable insights in it:

Remember that when Balanchine fired her and her husband Paul Mejia, no one would hire them for fear of getting on Balanchine's bad side, until they got to Maurice Bejart, who was not afraid.  In "Elusive Muse," Bejart looks into the camera and tells us, "I knew she was from Balanchine and she would go to Balanchine, but I could see the music in that body."

Some of the music he saw in that body had been written by Hector Berlioz, and there has sometimes been available a good Italian television production of the result:  Bejart's "Romeo et Juliette," available on Hardy Classic Video sometimes.  We had a short discussion of it here:

https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/33877-farrell-donn-in-bejarts-romeo-juliet/

I'm sorry I don't remember the other Italian dealer I got my copy from years ago, but it was listed as Berlioz, not as Bejart, and you didn't know it was the ballet until you looked at the list of performers.  That may help searchers.

Meanwhile, there are a few still images from the video here:

https://contemporarydance-db.blogspot.com/2009/03/maurice-bejart-romeo-e-giulietta.html

such as this one:

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/_EeY8jv1Chx0/Sc9kDYxOIlI/AAAAAAAAAR0/yLOvqwoFmso/s1600-h/bscap0019.jpg 

but the old Rapidshare files seem to be gone.  That's a shame, because these few still images don't begin to suffice - you need the quality of movement. 

Edited by Jack Reed
to complete my thought about that video
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"Elusive Muse" is worth seeing, although I found it disappointing overall. It followed Farrell's book a bit too closely. Like the book, the structure weakens noticeably after her return to the company.  Farrell's most celebrated partner, Peter Martins, is not interviewed and regardless of the reasons the absence of his commentary leaves a big hole in the narrative. The interviews with d'Amboise and Mitchell are solid but not terribly penetrating. There are also vignettes of Farrell teaching classs and in rehearsal with Maria Calegari and Helene Alexopoulos, at least some of which I believe was staged for the film

One of the chief appeals of the film at the time of release was the opportunity to see footage that was hard to find outside of a performing arts library but now, thanks to YouTube and people like John Clifford, the dance clips are now readily available and indeed we have access to film that the late lamented Anne Belle couldn't get permissions for. 

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Remember that when Balanchine fired her and her husband Paul Mejia

They were not fired. Mejia told Farrell he was going to quit and Farrell unwisely sent a message to Balanchine saying that if Mejia didn't dance, she didn't dance.  Balanchine took her up on it, to her astonishment. 

(Mejia must be over the moon these days, with his gifted son on track for the career at NYCB his dad never had.)

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dirac said:

They were not fired. Mejia told Farrell he was going to quit and Farrell unwisely sent a message to Balanchine saying that if Mejia didn't dance, she didn't dance.  Balanchine took her up on it, to her astonishment. 

Robert Gottlieb (in George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker, p. 133), for one, strongly suggests that that was all after Balanchine "took roles away from Mejia" in retaliation for Farrell's having married him.

Edited by nanushka
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9 hours ago, nanushka said:

Robert Gottlieb (in George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker, p. 133), for one, strongly suggests that that was all after Balanchine "took roles away from Mejia" in retaliation for Farrell's having married him.

Which is what Farrell has said as well...

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9 hours ago, Drew said:

Which is what Farrell has said as well...

Yes, he did take roles away from Mejia, which is why Mejia told Farrell he was going to quit - he'd lost yet another role. Which is still not the same as saying that Balanchine fired them. Making life uncomfortable for an employee is indeed one way of showing him where the door is, but Farrell was still dancing all her roles and receiving the occasional compliment from Balanchine, although he did have her begin teaching understudies, which she had not had to do before. If Mejia had gritted his teeth and stuck it out, who knows -- but given that he was not made welcome when Farrell returned to the company, we can make an educated guess. 

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16 minutes ago, dirac said:

Which is still not the same as saying that Balanchine fired them.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that it was, in bringing up the additional detail — rather, to emphasize that Farrell's ultimatum wasn't merely a rash or unwise decision on her part (even if she didn't really think Balanchine would take her up on it). Her employer, due to his romantic/sexual interest in her, and due to his subsequent actions when she refused his advances, had arguably made the situation untenable for everyone.

I have immense respect for Balanchine as a choreographer, but as a boss his actions — even for their time (which is no excuse, of course) — left a lot to be desired.

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On 5/18/2020 at 1:35 PM, dirac said:

Yes, he did take roles away from Mejia, which is why Mejia told Farrell he was going to quit - he'd lost yet another role. Which is still not the same as saying that Balanchine fired them. Making life uncomfortable for an employee is indeed one way of showing him where the door is, but Farrell was still dancing all her roles and receiving the occasional compliment from Balanchine, although he did have her begin teaching understudies, which she had not had to do before. If Mejia had gritted his teeth and stuck it out, who knows -- but given that he was not made welcome when Farrell returned to the company, we can make an educated guess. 

 

On 5/18/2020 at 1:58 PM, nanushka said:

I certainly didn't mean to imply that it was, in bringing up the additional detail — rather, to emphasize that Farrell's ultimatum wasn't merely a rash or unwise decision on her part (even if she didn't really think Balanchine would take her up on it). Her employer, due to his romantic/sexual interest in her, and due to his subsequent actions when she refused his advances, had arguably made the situation untenable for everyone.

I have immense respect for Balanchine as a choreographer, but as a boss his actions — even for their time (which is no excuse, of course) — left a lot to be desired.

I believe it was Balanchine who recommended Mejia to Maria Tallchief (who needed a choreographer) at Chicago City Ballet - putting another interesting twist on things. So there was a part of Mr. B that still wanted to help out his former protégé.

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On 5/11/2020 at 12:04 PM, DC Export said:

Hey there folks-

As NYCB has been adding ballets to their YouTube page every week, I've gone back and visited my "Ballet Bucketlist." One of the items on there is the Elusive Muse documentary about Suzanne Farrell. Does anyone know where this can be seen online?

I saw Elusive Muse a number of years ago but haven't been able find it since. It suddenly appeared on youtube. 

 

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