The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presents The Suzanne Farrell Ballet
Celebrating its 15th Anniversary season, the Kennedy Center's own The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, returns to the Eisenhower Theater stage for four performances, October 21-23, with an expansive all-Balanchine program. Including two large-scale company premieres, one of which is a revival of the rarely performed work Gounod Symphony and the patriotic Stars and Stripes, the program also features the return of an audience favorite, Danses Concertantes. All performances will be accompanied by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.
Choreographed in 1958 to Charles Gounod's Symphony No. 1, Gounod Symphony is a celebration of the corps: 20 women and 10 men weave in and out of nonstop geometric patterns and spirals as two principal dancers serve as the central couple. While Farrell herself has not performed the work, it has been of interest for her to restage. New costume designs by Holly Hynes, will take the ballet out of the scenic garden it was originally conceived in and better highlight the intricate choreography. Referring to a soundless black and white archival video recorded soon after the ballet was first choreographed, she also looked at previous notes when she was asked to stage it for the School of American Ballet in 1990. She equates the process to finding bones on an archaeological dig but reviving the masterpiece provides a freedom, a breath of new life into a ballet "a whole generation of dancers who have never seen, never danced..." This reconstruction she has said, is like having "Mr. B come back and do a new ballet. It's not something that's been done and done and done...It reignites your imagination and opens up a lot of information that wasn't there before."
Also created in 1958, Stars and Stripes is divided into five "campaigns" in which more than 40 dancers perform to various marches by John Philip Sousa complete with baton twirling, military formations, and rifle-bearing dancers. Over the years, this lively and vibrant Balanchine work has been staged for many landmark moments in American history, including a tribute to President John F. Kennedy. It is also a timely salute to America in the days leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election. It was the second campaign of this ballet in which Ms. Farrell made her debut in the corps de ballet with New York City Ballet. She later first performed, as part of the central couple, in the pas de duex with Jacques d'Amboise at a festival in Beyreuth, Germany in 1964. The company has previously performed the pas de deux (the forth campaign), but it will now premiere the full ballet.
Danses Concertantes was first choreographed for The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at New York's City Center Theater in 1944. Balanchine then re-worked the piece for New York City Ballet's 1972 Stravinsky Festival in honor of the composer's passing a year earlier. Though the ballet does not contain a story, Farrell has remarked it does have a "brassy, witty, humorous vibe to it." The ballet features parades, a sequence of pas de trios, and a pas de deux.
The company will also present a free performance on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage October 12 at 6:00 p.m., which will feature a working rehearsal showing excerpts from the company's fall season.
These performances also mark the company's penultimate season as was recently announced. With the Kennedy Center expansion project scheduled to open during the 2018-2019 season, Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter invited Farrell to explore teaching opportunities within this expanded campus in a new resident teaching artist role. Renowned for her unique talents as a teacher and vast knowledge, she will help develop educational programming that will continue the Balanchine legacy at the Center. Her robust educational relationship with the Center began in 1993teaching master classes for students, which grew and evolved into Exploring Ballet for Suzanne Farrell (EBSF), a three-week summer intensive for young dancers. Ms. Farrell also teaches a series of classes for adults, as part of the Kennedy Center's Explore the Arts series. Ms. Farrell will transition after the company's final season in 2017-2018. Further details about Farrell's new role will be shared during the 2017-2018 season announcement.
Returning Principal dancers are Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook, First Soloists Violeta Angelova and Kirk Henning, Soloists include Thomas Garrett, Ian Grosh, Allynne Noelle, Ted Seymour, and Valerie Tellmann-Henning, corps de ballet dancers are Jesse Campbell, Katie Gibson, Audra Johnson, Bethany Lowrie, Jane Morgan, Amber Neff, Jenna Nelson, Elizabeth Ousley, Melissa Reed, Melanie Riffee, and Claire Stallman. New members of the corps de ballet are Stéphano Candreva, Alexander Castillo, Justin Estelle, Traci Finch, and Giorgio Galli. The company's apprentices are Lauren Breen, Vincent Brewer, Molly Brown, Xiaoxiao Cao, Emilie Forest, Madeline Gradle, Cassidy Hall, Elinor Grace Hitt, Claire Millard, Haley Neisser, Jennifer Pauker, John Poppe, Anne Sandefur, Mary Ann Schaefer, Rachel Seeholzer, Sean Sessions, Leah Slavens, Durante Verzola, and Journy Wilkes-Davis.
Tickets start at $39. Tickets can be purchased online, at the Kennedy Center box office or by calling Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600. Patrons living outside the Washington metropolitan area may dial toll-free at (800) 444-1324. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.