Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet: Farewell Performance

For the past 16 years, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet has brought to life the ballets of George Balanchine as only one of his muses could. This year she decided to fold the company after one last set of performances, to focus more on teaching and passing her unique knowledge on to others.

Tonight was the last of her company's farewell performances.

The best seats I could get in the Kennedy Center's Opera House were way up in nosebleed territory -- Tier 2 -- but second row and near the center. It's a very different perspective than my Washington Ballet seats, which provide a frontal view of the stage. From way up high I had a better view of the patterns the dancers made. But there's no way I'd trade.

The lineup this evening was:
  • Gounod Symphony
  • Tzigane
  • Meditation
  • Serenade
The view from above was ideal to watch the patterns in the Gounod Symphony. Tzigane and Meditation were more character driven, and were filled with emotion. Serenade went back to interesting patterns, with small snippets of character and bracketed by a pair of striking visual images.

At the end of the company bows, the lead dancer did the usual and brought the conductor on stage Then, when it all seemed about to end, she went back to the wing and brought out Suzanne Farrell herself to thunderous applause. At age 72 and hobbled by the physical ailments that develop over almost 30 years as a professional dancer she appeared a bit unstable on her feet. The thunder continued unabated as she received a bouquet of flowers, and then the dancers who weren't already on-stage, former company members, and staff filed out from either wing, each placing a flower on what threatened to become a floral mountain at her feet. Only when all were on stage did the entire assembled group take their final bows and the curtain descend. Wow.

Thank you, Suzanne Farrell, for your work preserving the works of George Balanchine all these years. We look forward to the next phase in your career.

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