Suzanne Farrell Ballet to Bring 'FOREVER BALANCHINE' Farewell to Kennedy Center
In a farewell program of George Balanchine favorites, each with a special meaning for Ms. Farrell, the Kennedy Center's own The Suzanne Farrell Ballet celebrates its 16th and final season with performances in the Opera House, December 7-9.
Among the five works on the program, three were created for her: the rarely performed pas de deux Meditation, the gypsy fantasy Tzigane, as well as the 27-dancer Chaconne. Last season's triumphant revival of Gounod Symphony will also be included. One of two large-scale works, Serenade, the first ballet Balanchine made in America, and Chaconne will alternate each evening.
All performances will be accompanied by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.
"These programs are a reflection of all that the company has accomplished, presenting works that are near and dear to me," stated Suzanne Farrell. "To share the profound legacy of George Balanchine with our audiences has been immeasurable. I have enormous respect and pride for my dancers, and this final poignant season will be a celebration of them, and a way to express my deep gratitude to the generous supporters of The Suzanne Farrell Ballet."
Created in 1963 and the first ballet Balanchine created on Ms. Farrell, Meditation is an eight minute pas de duex and performed to Tchaikovsky's music of the same name for violin and piano. At the time of its creation, Balanchine was also working on a dance sequence in Orpheus and Eurydice for the Hamburg Opera. Those themes of the myth-the passion, love, and loss-are also evident in the duet. The gypsy fantasy Tzigane begins with the sound of a plaintive violin signaling the start of an enthralling five-minute solo and originally premiered as part of the 1975 Ravel Festival. As the first ballet created on Ms. Farrell after she returned to New York City Ballet from dancing with Maurice Béjart, "an experience that taught her how to fill a stage with drama and spectacle as only a force of one" she has said, brought an unique approach and improvisation to the work.
Showcasing the range of Ms. Farrell's deep connection to Balanchine, the program also comprises the large-scale ballets, Chaconne, Serenade, and Gounod Symphony. Set to music by Christoph Gluck, Chaconne brings to life the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and "displays Balanchine's uncommon mastery in creating an opera ballet" (New York Times). Lyrical and courtly, the ballet features an expansive principal role that was created for Ms. Farrell and will also include new costumes for the divertissement section, designed by Hynes. Considered to be a cornerstone in the Balanchine repertoire, Serenade began as a lesson on technique with students from the School of American Ballet and integrated unexpected rehearsal events into the choreography. The transcendent work, premiered in 1935, is set to a sweeping score by Tchaikovsky and includes the "Dark Angel" role that, years later, became Ms. Farrell's first solo as a dancer. Revived last season along with new costumes by Holly Hynes to better highlight the intricate choreography, 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. The reconstruction she has said was 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."
Under the artistic direction of George Balanchine's most celebrated muse, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet evolved from an educational program of the Kennedy Centerinto a highly lauded ballet company. The company has performed annually at theKennedy Center since 2001 and has toured both nationally and internationally. With Ms. Farrell's deep, inimitable insight into the Balanchine canon, the company has revealed unique insights into "Mr. B's" works while sharing with audiences his enduring legacy through company tours, partnerships, and educational residencies. The company's repertoire includes more than 60 works choreographed by George Balanchine, Maurice Béjart, and Jerome Robbins.
Highlights of the company's tenure include the formal creation in 2007 of the Balanchine Preservation Initiative, which serves to introduce rarely seen or "lost" Balanchine works to audiences around the world. Many of these ballets had not been seen for decades before Ms. Farrell revived them.
The company's repertoire includes nearly a dozen Balanchine Preservation Initiative Ballets, including Ragtime(Balanchine/Stravinsky), Divertimento Brillante (Balanchine/Glinka), Pithoprakta(Balanchine/Xenakis), Haieff Divertimento (Balanchine/Haieff), and Gounod Symphony(Balanchine/Gounod). Significant artistic partnerships have included collaborations with the National Ballet of Canada (Don Quixote), Cincinnati Ballet (Chaconne), Ballet Austin (Episodes), the Bulgarian National Ballet (Agon), and the Sarasota Ballet (Diamonds).
As part of the farewell season, the Kennedy Center will produce a limited-run commemorative book chronicling the company's 16-year repertoire history along with Ms. Farrell's reflections and program notes on the ballets. The book will be available for purchase in the Kennedy Center gift shop.
IF YOU GO:
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet: Forever Balanchine: Farewell Performances
December 7 at 7:30 p.m. & December 9 at 1:30 p.m.
Gounod Symphony (Gounod/Balanchine)
December 8 at 7:30 p.m. & December 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Gounod Symphony (Gounod/Balanchine)
Tickets start at $29. 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.