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Farrell as the Siren in Balanchine's THE PRODIGAL SON

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the attached scan shows an undated photo (by Judy Cameron) of Suzanne Farrell's Siren in Balanchine's NYCB production of THE PRODIGAL SON.

somewhat off topic, when noting the controversy, to put it politely, surrounding Alina Somova's career, Farrell's appearance(s) and early career frequently come to mind with regard to the passions her individualistic performances stirred in her day, most of which, on the most negative side, have since nearly faded into oblivion.

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I didn't see her in it but there is a quote in her book in which (paraphrasing) Mr. B is walking by Suzanne as she is warming up for Siren. She complains that she can't seem to get a good arabesque - he responds that the Siren didn't have any arabesques - that she was not that kind of girl.

Forgive the butchering - it was something like that!

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It was something like that, a lot like that, except Farrell herself knew, on second thought, what the role included, or didn't:

Then I realized that the Siren doesn't have any arabesques, which is unusual considering that this is one of ballet's most commonly used positions. Looking at me with a straight face, Mr. B said, "Yes, she just wasn't an arabesque kind of lady." Indeed, none of her movements is directed behind her; all are in front of her or underneath her where she is in diabolical control.

This passage, on pp. 173-4 of Holding On to the Air, seems to be about the '67-'68 season, which I didn't see, so, yes, rg, thanks for the photo.

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Sadly, I only saw Suzanne dance once. It was the Spring of 1979 and I was 10 years old. She and Peter Martins danced the Tchaikovsky Pas de deux. It was the first time that I ever saw an audience go crazy. It was the first time that I ever heard a member of an audience scream "Bravo!" I had only seen that done in Bugs Bunny cartoons. :) Even at a young age, I knew that I was seeing something special.

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I saw Farrell do the Siren in '68, I believe, with Villella as the Prodigal. She was very sinuous and serpentine, but possessed of an air of "professional" ennui. This role was unlike anything else in her then repertoire, or achievement since.

My reading of that is that it must have been an extraordinary performance, is that what you mean? I think you used the quotes to denote the Siren's profession, not Suzanne's. If so, it sounds as though the 'professional ennui' would be very much the attitude of a 'sinuous and serpentine' Siren--nonchalant. I just wonder if Farrell could do that attitude of nonchalance at that age; my guess is probably she could already, since she'd sometimes been talked of as 'mannered' in the first period, none of which I got to see. She could definitely project an uncaring attitude later in the 70s when it was appropriate.

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