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Review 1, 10-22: Muses
Farrell Preserves Balanchine
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2003 Susan Yung
NEW YORK -- George Balanchine's
oeuvre looms so large in the world of dance, yet just a handful
of companies are true interpreters of his style. Suzanne Farrell
Ballet is on that list. Founded in 1995 and performing under its
current name since 2001, it evolved from a series of master classes
starting in 1993 taught by Farrell, who danced Balanchine's work
onstage for 28 years at New York City Ballet. The company skillfully
performed four Balanchine works at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing
Arts at Brooklyn College on October 12.
The dancers are technically
accomplished enough to master Balanchine's deceptively quick and
complex choreography. They relayed the numerous subtle direction
changes taken in quarter turns or the port de bras changing on each
count, in the five-part "Divertimento No. 15." In the hands of less
skilled dancers, such phrases can become muddied and frustrating
to watch, but the crystalline structure of the choreography emerged
brilliantly, like a multi-faceted diamond. The dancers stayed atop
the music, readily shifting dynamics and keeping a relaxed demeanor
while giving each phrase a high degree of polish. Farrell has succeeded
in passing along her legendary sense of musicality and the fine
details that distinguish it as Balanchine.
Two more theatrical
works followed. "Variations for Orchestra" featured Shannon Parsley
in a lipstick red dress making strident, bold moves to Stravinsky,
later to be shadowed by a backlit dancer on a scrim. A focused,
electric Natalia Magnicaballi starred with Momchil Mladenov in "Tzigane,"
performed in paprika beribboned costumes to Ravel's gypsy-influenced
music. Both dancers turned solidly (the men here seem to be encouraged
to complete one perfect double turn rather than many wild revolutions)
and showed an inner fire.
Peter Boal of New York
City Ballet guested in the title role of the restored version of
"Apollo." The inclusion of Lisa Reneau as Apollo's mother at the
beginning and end made for an earthier version than City Ballet's
rendition of this mythological parable, as Reneau, in a camisole
leotard, went shoeless and flung her legs open violently. Boal paid
undivided attention to each muse (Bonnie Pickard, Magnicaballi,
and Jennifer Fournier), and, as always, danced with an amazing combination
of humility and grandeur, appearing far larger than his size. The
several tricky quartet segments went smoothly when the four dancers
linked hands or arms and wove around one another, or when Boal reined
in the three muses in a difficult sequence of developpes. It speaks
volumes for the quality of the dance that Peter Boal did not stick
out like a rose in a moss patch.
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