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Suzanne Farrell in Princeton

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There were three Balanchine works on the program--pas d'action from Divertimento #15; pdd from Clarinade; Agon, along with Bejart's pdd from Romeo and Juliet. The two highlights were the Clarinade pdd and Farrell's talk at the program's end with Joan Accocella. Clarinade is set to a blues score by Morton Gould; it was originally danced by Farrell in 1964--no one else ever performed it. It was Balanchine in his erotic mode. A ballet by Balanchine to Gould seems a bit far fetched to me---the choreography, for me, called out for Stravinsky. Gould had better interpreters in Robbins, deMille and Feld. That said, it is very much worth seeing. It would be a relief to see that on a program in place of the interminable Corsaires and Don Qs. The Divertimento was pristine; the five female soloists (Kendra Mitchell, Nicole Stout, Sara Ivan and Natalia Magnicaballi and Violetta Angelova were admirable, as were the three men. That final reverance at the end is thrilling. Agon was listed in the program as 'company premiere'. It was Balanchine at his best--right down to the splayed fingertips. It has been quite a long time since I saw Agon 'live' and an equally long time since I saw the humor displayed in the pas de trois. Magnicaballi in the pdd had the hesitancy that is talked about in Diana Adams interpretation. I am far from a Bejart fan---but his R&J may convert me yet--I particulary enjoyed the Berlioz score.

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Thanks, ATM711. I was there too and loved it, but that is not necessarily news, so I was reluctant to post till somebody broke the ice. I had not seen anyone other than NYCB ever dance the complete Agon. This was a revelation;it looked very different. I very much enjoyed the bluesy Clarinade and Elisabeth Holowchuk's performance in it. (Full Disclosure: I was the guest of her parents.) I too love Berlioz's music for Romeo and Juliet. I've only seen video of the complete Bejart ballet, but the pas de deux is ravishingly beautiful. It makes me sad that I never saw Farrell dance with that company. Sara Ivan and Momchil Mladenov were very good yesterday.

I saw Suzanne briefly at intermission. I saw her dear poodle, Charlie, at somewhat greater length. The Holowchuks drove him home too.

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Wistfully, thanks to you both! I would have been there too, but we had the Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, and Miami City companies here the same weekend, and I could sleep in my own bed. (I list them to show how much competition it takes to sway my choice about seeing TSFB.) An old friend in New York from the Balanchine days asked whether Chicago was becoming a center for dance. Are you kidding? I replied; Yes! she said.

I've never been in the McCarter Theatre; what was it and the crowd like?

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As a big fan of the 'leotard ballets" Agon was the highlight for me. I thought the beginning of Divertimento was tentative, and the dancers were getting used to the relatively small stage. It would be great to see Clarinade again too- the sexy, humorous side of Balanchine. I was sitting quite near Damian Woetzel in the balcony. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the Acocella/Farrell discussion- how was it?

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Thanks ATM711 and FarrellFan and Jack Reed earlier for your reports. I just got tickets for both performances at Zellerbach in Berkeley for which good seats are still available. Am looking forward to Agon -- I saw Miami do a very refined version here last year -- and to a Divertimento with some bite to it.

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The Divertimento was pristine; the five female soloists (Kendra Mitchell, Nicole Stout, Sara Ivan and Natalia Magnicaballi and Violetta Angelova were admirable, as were the three men.
Actually, Ms. Stout didn't dance. According to the announcement, her role (second variation) was taken by Lauren Stewart, a new apprentice, in an impressively Balanchinian performance. We saw only two of the ballet's four sections -- the introductory movement and the five pas de deux -- were somewhat sloppy and compromised by what appeared to be a slippery floor. Exiting his duet, Ian Grosh was unable to hold his ballerina in the overhead lift all the way into the wings. Still, the spirit of the piece was intact, and at a much brisker tempo than I've lately seen at NYCB.

Divertimento No. 15 has been in the company's rep since its first or second season, and it's natural that more attention would be paid to rehearsing newer pieces. The tradeoff (if that's what it was) was well worthwhile, and the performance kicked up several notches after the intermission. The Clarinade pdd was fun and interesting. As Acocella pointed out in the post-perf talk, it was a precursor to the Rubies pdd (and I also saw shadows of Symphony in 3 Movmts pdd). She also asked Farrell whether she was at all embarrassed performing those slinky, slithery, seductive moves. Farrell answered that when you learn a ballet you learn the movements and do them. She also said that in its original form, it was a kind of triple pdd, with the main couple flanked on each side by another couple. In restaging it for a single couple, she had to create new choreography to replace the parts where the main couple was still. She wondered if people would be able to distinguish her choreography from Balanchine's. Now, I'm especially eager to see it again. :) But with different costumes. I found these distracting. (You can see the yellow and black designs in the rotating slideshow on the homepage of the company's mini-site, here.)

The company gave its newest ballet, Agon, a masterful performance. Tight and energetic. Congratulations to all.

Sara Ivan and Momchil Mladenov were mesmerizing and passionate in the Scene d'Amour from Bejart's Romeo and Juliet.

The theater is fairly small, and even the back row is no further than the back of the First Ring at NYST/DHKT. With a neighbor wearing about half a bottle of cologne, I moved from rear balcony to rear orchestra during intermission. The orchestra has a pretty nice rake, so sightlines in both locations are pretty good.

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