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Beautiful Ballet

By Jeremy D. Birch
31 Oct 2012

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet’s Erin Mahoney-Du and Momchil Mladenov
photo by Scott Motta

The 2012–2013 season begins with performances by The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.

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The Kennedy Center’s own The Suzanne Farrell Ballet returns November 7–11 in their 11th annual season for seven dazzling performances in the Eisenhower Theater. A renowned ballerina and George Balanchine protégée, Suzanne Farrell has become a “tireless Balanchine preservationist and one of the foremost inter- preters of the great choreographer’s work” (The New York Times). Her company, with Balanchine in its pedigree, carries forth his legacy with two unforgettable all-Balanchine programs, including company premieres of the nuanced and mesmerizing Valse-Fantaisie, the sweepingly romantic Intermezzo from Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and Balanchine’s iconic 1929 masterpiece of biblical sin and redemption, Prodigal Son.

The engagement also brings the company premiere of the inventive Danses Concertantes, a rarely performed work featured as part of the Balanchine Preservation Initiative. Additionally, the sublimely choreographed Divertimento No. 15, frequently excerpted for performances, will be presented by the company as a full ballet for the first time since 2005. Brimming with elegance, Divertimento No. 15 “creates an ideal realm in which courtesy, chivalry, brilliance, serenity, and expansiveness coexist and give off light” (The New York Times).

Both programs will close with Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, the ballet featured in Richard Rodgers’s musical On Your Toes. The first of several collaborations with Rodgers, Balanchine expanded Slaughter on Tenth Avenue into a stand-alone ballet, complete with gangsters, tap-dancing, and drama.

Returning to the Kennedy Center for the first time since 2008, America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet, brings Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s critically acclaimed ballet adaptation of Romeo & Juliet to the Opera House November 15–18. “Whether it’s high-flying, sweet romance or gritty sword fights, there is more than a little something for everyone” (San Francisco Chronicle). Two innocent young people meet by chance, relishing the discovery and passion of first love—only to be shattered by tragic twists of fate and the destructive hatred of their own families. Set to one of Prokofiev’s most evocative scores, this production of Shakespeare’s timeless masterpiece is filled with beautiful dance, riveting battles, and compelling drama, set amidst spectacular production designs by Jens-Jacob Worsaae and lighting by Thomas R. Skelton.

Known for its strong repertoire, the company’s engagement will also include a mixed program on November 13 & 14. In Trio, Tomasson captures the energy, momentum, and varied emotional tones of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence in an “elegant and engross- ing” (Los Angeles Times) production with sets and costumes as lush as the choreography. San Francisco Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU, set to an original score by Shinji Eshima, is a story of love and separation, desire and jealousy, violence and grief, simply told to stunning effect and hailed as “a gripping, virtuoso piece” by the San Francisco Examiner. And rounding out the program will be Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine, featuring a large ensemble of 24 dancers and set to an exhilarating score by Michael Torke.

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Jeremy D. Birch is the writer/editor for Kennedy Center News.




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