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Flash 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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