Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Balanchine's Don Quixote

Recommended Posts

I just read it. Homans describes the production and how Balanchine's emphasis in the ballet diverges from the novel: Balanchine and Don Quixote are similar in character, but in the novel Quixote has more social relationships and in the ballet (apparently) he is much more of a loner. She points out the obvious parallels to Balanchine's own life, most especially with Dulcinea/Farrell. Homans evokes what must have been a poignant spectacle, when on the several occasions including the gala dress rehearsal, Balanchine himself played Quixote.

Link to comment

Homans also evokes very well what was a hair-raising spectacle, in the first scene of Act III:

t was Farrell’s solo in the dream sequence of the third act that broke all barriers. No one had moved like that before, and even the scratchy film of her performance is astonishing today. She and Balanchine had worked on this solo together some weeks earlier, alone in the studio: “I want pulsing, pulsing,” he said, and she managed to track a kind of inner beat through her chest and back as she reached, pulled back, thrust out again, off-balance in ways that made her seem completely physically in control and utterly lost at the same time.

At one point, her arabesque is so lush and deep that her neck breaks back in Dionysian extravagance. Her focus is to the diagonal corner, where he is lying asleep—dreaming her—and she approaches him, despairs, flies through a range of feelings with such speed that we cannot catch them until she seems about to end in a traditional way, kneeling or posed at his feet, when suddenly she reverses and backs up as if thrown by a wave or force of nature and falls hard to her knee, head in her hands in anguish. It is raw and exposed, and watching from the wings one night, Jacques d’Amboise was aghast. “What’s happened to Suzie? What’s inside her? Who’s in there transforming her?... Suzanne danced possessed.”

You can glimpse some of this solo for yourself! In the biographical film about Farrell, Elusive Muse, there's about two minutes from that 1965 gala film, at about 23 minutes from the beginning.

You will also hear for yourself that that 1965 film has very good sound in this scene, not what Homans reports. (Likewise in Act II, just for the record; but elsewhere in the film Homans is right about this problem.)

So, aside from a few quibbles, having seen this film (once) and having seen most of the performances of Farrell's revival of Balanchine's ballet (in Washington, Edinburgh, and Toronto - Farrell's production was designed for portability), I think Homans's development of the theme she announces in her title is spot on, and I agree that DanielBenton's summary is a good one.

But there is more in this film that's relevant to some of Homans's points. At the beginning, Farrell recalls a conversation with Balanchine: "You know Suzanne, if I weren't a choreographer, you wouldn't look at me twice." To which Farrell had replied, "You know George, if I weren't a ballerina, you wouldn't look at me twice." To us, she continues, "I think how you dance is who you are, and that's what he fell in love with."

I think that sums up that part of the story pretty well, and I think it's consistent with Homans's more general observation that his "marriages dissolved in his hands as the muse became too domestic and real." (Homans doesn't go so far as to remind us of James and the Sylph, but I didn't need any help.)

Edited by Jack Reed
Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...