The Suzanne Farrell Ballet: All-Balanchine Program at The Kennedy Center

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Original works of George Balanchine drift onto The John F. Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower stage by The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. Under the direction of Suzanne Farrell, who was once the protégé of George Balanchine, this company premieres his classic work. Classical music of Igor Stravinsky, Charles Gounod and John Philip Sousa satiate the air played by The Kennedy Center’s Opera House Orchestra. In its penultimate season, the company showcases pure classical ballet.

 The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 'Danses Concertantes,' with dancers Valerie Tellmann-Henning and Kirk Henning. (c) The George Balanchine Trust. Photo (c) Paulk Kolnik. © The George Balanchine Trust Photo by Paul Kolnik
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in ‘Danses Concertantes,’ with dancers Valerie Tellmann-Henning and Kirk Henning. Choreography (c) The George Balanchine Trust. Photo (c) Paulk Kolnik.© The George Balanchine Trust. 

Suzanne Farrell pays homage to the “father of American Ballet,” George Balanchine, with lesser known works that most have never seen before. The rarity of these pieces revive his choreography with such detail. Farrell clearly makes sure the dancers are aware of the rawness of Balanchine’s intricate works.

In its 15th season, the company’s similar physical aesthetics promenade throughout the show as the backdrop and costumes drastically change hues. Costume designs by John Kristiansen, Holly Hynes, and Karinska are ravishing in their demeanor as they embody each dancer’s physique. The costumes vibrantly paint the stage along with the shapes of Balanchine’s choreography.

The simple choreography of Balanchine is synonymous to his mind and obvious experience with dance during that era. The convoluted flow of steps require a mental capacity to pursue spatial awareness in time. The portrayal of light, airy assimilations are risen through space with an abstract origination.

Farrell returns favor and a grand salute to America by meticulously placing “Stars and Stripes” as the last piece during the program. With two weeks before the election, it is a well thought-out execution and carefully selected in a tumultuous time. The crescendo and high trills of the choreography collaborates into an artwork of patriotism.

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 'Stars and Stripes.' Allynne Noelle and Thomas Garrett.Choreography (c) The George Balanchine. Photo (c) Paul Kolnik.
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in ‘Stars and Stripes.’ Allynne Noelle and Thomas Garrett. Choreography (c) The George Balanchine. Photo (c) Paul Kolnik.

The pas de deux danced by Soloists, Allynne Noelle, and Thomas Garrett, in “Stars and Stripes,” culminated the show as each dancer portrayed beautiful stage presence. The ease in their transitions and pirouettes sculpts a purpose.

All works are company premieres and purposely chosen with Washington, DC in mind. “Danses Concertantes” opens the show with grandeur.

Thirty two dancers continue the show in the company’s latest addition, “Gounod Symphony.” Originally performed by Maria Tallchief and Jacques d’Amboise in 1958, soloists Natalia Magnicaballi and Michael Cook danced the pieces angular shapes combined with constant roundness.

The choreography requires a skilled usage of balance in order for the naked eye to fully grasp the intricacies of the movement. The silhouette of dancers in obvious shapes create an intense image and evoke emotions that thrill your eyes to bounce from couppes to jetes. The partnering involves lifts of ease in each piece, all the while enduring a stamina of sorts. It is clear that Balanchine was bold and daring in his style while still remaining true to the classic of ballet.

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet Choreography George Balanchine  © The George Balanchine Trust Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik studio@paulkolnik.com nyc 212-362-7778
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.  Choreography George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik.

There are several elements within each work that vary but still compliment each other in repetition. Very simple movements such as arabesque, pique and so on all intertwine within this complex kaleidoscope of colors. This whirlwind of classics is a thrill to watch but requires a depth of conceptual understanding to appreciate.

Balanchine’s mind, eye and creativity is clearly portrayed by The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. The timing of each movement in conjunction with the music is the epitome of hard work, presence and practice. The farewell of the company in the next two years will be a true measure of how change occurs as time elapses. The company and its grandeur homage to the classics of ballet and ode to tradition will surely be missed.

Running Time: Two hours with two 15-minute intermissions.

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The Suzanne Farrell Ballet: All-Balanchine Program played from October 21- 24, 2016 at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box at (202) 467-4600, or (800) 444-1324, or purchase them online.

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Yasmeen Enahora
Yasmeen has a magnetic personality and dynamic spirit. As a Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream and Reach for Excellence Scholar, Yasmeen is a senior at Howard University majoring in Sports Medicine with a minor in Dance. Yasmeen currently serves as a reviewer for DC Metro Theater Arts as a Freelance Writer. Having been awarded numerous opportunities since she was young, Yasmeen is very passionate about her endeavors. Before entering college, Yasmeen trained with the Ailey School’s Professional Division for a six week intensive. During her years at Howard University, Yasmeen performed at the Kennedy Center in "Carmen" with the Washington National Opera, “Keuchen” choreographed by Royce Zackery at the International Association of Blacks in Dance in Cleveland, Ohio, and was featured in Howard University’s “28 Days of Dance” online exhibition: a collaboration with Brown Girls Do Ballet. All the while Yasmeen has taken on positions as a Howard University lifeguard, Genesis Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Intern, a Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program Assistant, and has regularly volunteered helping kids in the Metro DC area at 826DC. She studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico as a Lucy Moten Scholar after being awarded money from Howard University to research ballet and traditional dance in Oaxaca. Yasmeen constantly brings warmth and joy with her infectious energy. She is always striving for new adventures and opportunities.