Suzanne Farrell Ballet Afterthoughts

Mar 15, 2010

Thank you for joining us for The Suzanne Farrell Ballet's revival of the ever-so-elegant George Balanchine. We hope you loved the classical ballet masterpieces as much as we did and would love to hear your thoughts. 

Check back soon to see a video of Suzanne Farrell in conversation with Northrop Director Ben Johnson and Managing Director of Theater Latte Da Kim Motes, copresented by the Institute for Advanced Study's Thursdays at Four and Northrop Dance.


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The pace of the evening was agonizingly slow. Did they not have enough material to fill the expected time slot? The two VERY long intermissions really took the energy level down.

We loved the ballet. The dancers were wonderful and the costumes were lovely. We were somewhat daunted by the program listing 2 intermissions, but it all seemed to move along quite quickly. In fact, we were sorry to see it end.

It was worth going just for the Romeo and Juliet piece. Stunningly well done - dancing, choreography, and lighting.

I enjoyed it very much. However, my dad, who is very tiny, still couldn't see above the heads in front of him--even with two pillows under him. Some of the seating at Northrup just isn't designed well. And I doubt there's anything to do about that now. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

I attended all three events, including the talk at Rapson. It was a wonderful weekend. I particularly enjoyed the program Suzanne narrated on Sunday -- what a treat to be able to see these astonishing works a bit through her eyes, interpreted through her experience. What a brilliant idea! The dancers were amazing, absolutely top-drawer, and I loved seeing them "eat up space" on that big Northrop stage and in a venue that honors the performers by virtue its history. (I saw Stravinsky conduct there, for example.) Thanks for the opportunity.

With the only exception of sensual, wonderful, energetic and sexual Romeo and Juliet piece, the rest of the performance was a real drag. Two intermissions and seemingly unneeded bread in the third act really made time pass slow and toned down the performance. The dancers seamed amateurish, landing heavy and stumbling. After the first part the choreography had a sexual meaning without the real fluidity of real ballet. It was general consensus in auditorium after the show, that Romeo and Juliet was worth the admission, and I concur. It was the only part worth Northrop stage.

The Saturday program was lovely, we all enjoyed it very much. I agree with the other comments regarding having 2 intermissions, that was unfortunate.

The highlight of the evening was the stunning Romeo and Juilliet pas de deux, which was worth the admission. the rest was uninspiring.

I was privileged to have seen quite a few performances of the New York City Ballet when I was a student there in the late Seventies. I have vivid memories of Miss Farrell's performance in Tarantella. These dancers from her own company are definitely carrying the fire. Please have them back every year.

Loved the Pas de Duex matinee...The best part was having Suzanne Farrell narrate the history of each piece...Brilliant!! Did not like the two intermissions...Since each piece was only 5-10 min long, it didn't seem like two were needed...Would love to see you add more narration for future ballets!!

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed both the Friday night and Saturday performances. Being fans of New York City Ballet in general and Ballanchine ballets in particular, we were especially pleased to see the unique Ballanchine choreograpy again. Having Suzanne Farrell narrate the Sat. performances was an added bonus with all her personal comments. The Ballanchine style continues to influence every major U.S. company. Bring back the Miami Ballet and San Francisco Ballet and take a look at the Boston, Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Seattle companies--all headed up by former NYCB principals.

While both Farrell and the dancers were stimulating and beautiful to watch, the intermissions were INTERMINABLE. There is NO reason for 20 minutes intervals. Please consider shortening them next season. Thank you.

The ballet was amazing. Balanchine has always been more precise, less dramatic, less emotional ... spectacular in its brilliance of style and execution. I was in row 23 on Friday night. I was totally engaged, and inspired. Suzanne Farrell would direct true Balanchine. Like Cunningham, he was one of the greatest choreographers of all time. And she is inspired. People like drama. And we are living in this increasingly cool, prozac-ed existence, without the texture and lushness of the past (we used to have beautiful buildings, there were horses in the streets, there was a lushness of beauty to physical existence ... now more and more is beige and bland.) The "bottom line" is destroying the quality of existence. I think a lot of people long for the lushness. I bought my ticket in January after seeing The Red Shoes... because I found myself longing for beauty and ballet and passion. The ballet at Northrup had the beauty. Yes , it was truly great dance. Rare. Balanchine was never the ballet to see for emotional passion. It is another sort of passion. The passion for beauty and wonders of form and movement. I read some of the comments and was not surprised to see negativity. Most people have no real feeling for what ballet really is. I noticed all the "ballet girls" around me were delighted. Meanwhile, I talked to one of the older ushers who says you are renovating the performance hall and would like to make some suggestions. In the first place, it has always been too large. It is perfect for rock concerts. Years ago I sat in the balcony and was delighted by the organ. It was an annual meeting of organists and it was grand. So, yes, make it smaller and yes, do fix the floor so that the seating makes sense. The only really good seats are around 19 - 23 in the middle. on the ground floor. And the front rows, middle in the balcony. And guard the accoustics. The accoustics at Northrup are fairly good. Not as good as the old Met Opera house in NYC or the Opera in Stockholm, but much much better than the Ordway where except for the middle of the ground floor, one needs amplification, even though one can see well. Amplification destroys opera and diminishes all acoustic performances A huge part of the art is in the venue.

Totally enjoyed the ballet. The best one I've seen. Seems alot of people are complaining about the breaks. But it didn't bother me. Suzanne Farrell has had a hip replacement, so I'm sure it helps her to have these breaks, so her hip doesn't get too sore. I get this because I have had hip problems myself. Great performance.

There seem to be two camps where Balanchine is concerned: he is either a genius or a bore. You can tell that from the comments here. Balanchinites LOVED the performances. The rest of us found only the Béjart Romeo and Juliet piece to have any passion or sensulaity. Different strokes for different folks. There have been many complaints in various feedback sections regarding the horrific sight lines in the Northrup. People complain about having to bob and weave in order to see around the people in front of them because there is no rise in the first ten or so rows of the orchestra. One thing I want to add to that overall complaint is that from those same rows you cannot see the dancers' feet. I'm not sure if they're hidden by a lip on the stage, or simply that the stage is too high, but it is seriously distracting to anyone who loves ballet as the foot is so integral to line. Here's hoping that all these sight line deficiencies will soon be corrected.

I agree that hearing Suzanne's comments were indeed a highlight! I was not particularly impressed with the duets, however. I was thinking I would have been happier w/ ensemble pieces of Fri. night, but it sounds like there was only one flame of excitement in Friday's line-up. I love Balanchine's work. I guess I just have been a lot more satisfied w/ performances of the NY City Ballet, and the dancers of Farrell's performance era.

We both loved the two shows, though we can offer comments. Friday night seemed a bit "academic" though I have to agree with several respondents who were moved by the Bejart "Romeo and Juliet." It seems to me that one of the things to understand about Balanchine is his versatility. Anyone whose seeing eyes can push past human preconceptions should discern that fact just from the content of the two concerts. For myself, I had never before seen either the excerpt from Divertimento # 15 nor the Pas from Clarinade, so I was interested on several levels. I don't think either is one of his greater works nor among the great works of 20th century ballet. But they were both a heckuva lot better than so much that I see today. The duet matinee showed the full sweep of Balanchine's mastery. During one of the two intermissions I talked with two different acquaintances, one of whom said he was bored by Sonnambula and the other of whom silently mouthed the word "Wow." One of the two has danced for decades, the other is a student of mine in an adult beginner class, both are grownups over fifty and I won't say which was which. For myself, I thought "Meditation" was exquisite and I thought "Stars and Stripes" was a little ragged in the adage, perhaps (??) because of a Saturday morning pairing of two dancers who had done the role but not with each other.

Attended on Saturday. Sat in the middle section towards the back, near the isle. They were wonderful seats - no one's heads were in my way as these are on a rise a bit. Could see the dancers perfectly - although would have been nice to see Suzanne Ferrell closer up. Her voice carried her mood well and she was a perfect narrator. Very educational - but not sure we needed two hours for this. Pieces were very short. Northrop was too big for this intimate performance. Learned a lot about the moods of Balanchine and reasons for choreographies - felt like I was eavesdropping - interesting... Had no clue he did a ballet to Sousa - would be interested in seeing this entire thing. Most peppy part of the program - woke everyone up! Agree with others from attending previous events there that the closer you are, heads are in the way! Glad you will be rennovating to fix this.

By all means welcome Suzanne and the Ballet members back! We were surprised that there were so few in the audience. This should have been a sell out in the dance community. Simplicity, strong technique, dancer athleticism, and the interpretation and selection of the composer's musical selections are Balanchine's gifts to posterity. We enjoyed every moment, told others of our experience, and are still discussing the beauty, emotion and simplicity. It was a feast for our eyes and will not be forgotten. Dance and our culture overall has become too busy with input. It was refreshing to experience our favorite art form void of distractions and focused on the esstentials of dancer, music, and audience. Northrup Auditorium has suffered from lack of care and upgrades for decades. It has difficulty competing with other venues for the the public's attention. Let's hope that the Regent's, the Legislature , a supportive Governor and a selection of patrons can restore this structure for the arts and not as a campus classroom.

1. I'm happy at any occasion to see Belanchine choregraphy. Besides the New York City Ballet, I would recommend the Miami City Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and San Francisco Ballets for this purpose. 2. FIX THE DRINKING FOUNTAINS FOR PITY SAKE!!!!

I normally sit through ballets waiting for the pas de deux, to me the heart and soul of the whole thing. What a delight to have a program of only pas de deux! And such incredible performances of them too. I somewhat prefer to let them speak for themselves, but Suzanne Farrell was nevertheless charming and educational, and brought a feeling of knowing Balanchine.

I normally sit through ballets waiting for the pas de deux, to me the heart and soul of the whole thing. What a delight to have a program of only pas de deux! And such incredible performances of them too. I somewhat prefer to let them speak for themselves, but Suzanne Farrell was nevertheless charming and educational, and brought a feeling of knowing Balanchine.

Loved the educational format of Sat. 2PM performance! Wonderful! One intermission would have been enough though. Would love to see more Balanchine programs.

This was THE dance performance of the year. Thank you Northrop Dance for bringing Suzanne Farrell Ballet to Mpls! And thank you Suzanne Farrell for your preservation of his work! I went Friday night as I prefer group pieces and my favorites were Divertimento No 15 and Agon. The Balanchine curlicue folding and unfolding among partners and groups that I love so much was all there. Yummy! It was fascinating to see his mind at work as represented in these 2 pieces. Too bad the Mozart and Stravinsky wasnt live. The pas de deux from Romeo and Julie was breathtaking. The angry fighting families dressed in brown made us think somewhat of Martha Stewart's Applachian Spring meets Balachine. The Bejart piece was a surprise to see on the program. Still very modern. And last of all I thought it was a great idea to have the "Watch How..." additional notes in the program. I'll definately see them again if they're ever back in town. Bravo!

Not one remark about the boy being thrown on in the pas de deux in Agon, one of the hardest pas's out there? Hmmmm. Beautifully danced, especially the first, third and fifth girls in Divertimento...

We enjoyed the Saturday afternoon event very much. It was wonderful to have Suzanne Farrell narrating. It was especially interesting to learn that Meditation was Balanchine's gift to her. This experience has inspired us to learn more about Suzanne Farrell and her Ballet Company. Keeping it within 2 hours, including the intermissions was not a problem for us ~ it allowed us to purchase a glass of wine during one of the intermissions. I have personally been buying Northrup packages over a good period of time now, which has been worth every penny! Looking forward to new ballets that will be coming to this Auditorium.

This was THE BEST performance Northrop has put on in YEARS. I loved the program... my favorites are AGON, Chaconne, and Apollo. I loved that Suzanne came out to visit with the audience before each piece. The dancers danced beautifully. Northrop....please bring them back and please also bring back NYCB and other companies that dance Balanchine....

Suzanne Farrell successfully imparts her elegance, grace and perfection of execution to the dancers in her company.What joy to see that on Saturday. I have followed her with admiration from Balanchine to Bejart, back to Balanchine and then on to creating her own company. She is a national--perhaps international--treasure. Only Sylvie Guilliem comes as closeas Suzanne Farrell to such ethereal realization of a choreographer's vision. Thursday's special event I had to miss due to being out of town. I do hope you will invite Ms. Farrel to return for another stellar performance program and for the opportunity for a Q & A in a smaller setting. I was disappointed that she did not come out after the performance but certainly understand. The program was wisely devised to create maximum value in knowledge gained and beauty experienced. Thank you so very much.

Loved it. It was the best we have seen in years at the Northrop. Kep up this caliber and we will continue to come and to donate again.

I have to say the Saturday afternoon performance was one of the most memorable ballet performances I've had in a long time. The progression of Balanchine's work as explained by his muse was highly personal, enchanting and a one-of-a-kind experience. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, I couldn't wait until Suzanne came out again. I was also blown away by the high-caliber of execution of these very difficult pieces. The dancers were much better (and well rehearsed) than what I expected. And many were corp dancers. Wow! My husband and I have had season tickets for a long time and he mostly goes for me -- ballet is not a passion for him, like it is for me. He felt this was one of the best experiences he'd had a ballet performance ever and we've seen in residence NYCB, SFB, BB, Stutgaard Ballet, to name a few. He could not pick a favorite -- well, maybe Ivesiana piece, which we were both mesmorized by. Thanks again for bringing Suzanne Farrell Ballet to the Twin Cites. Can you invite them back for next year? Pretty please!

Having never seen a Balanchine ballet before, this was a great introduction, and especially nice to have his muse provide history of each piece. Each Pas de deux was different, with Meditation being a favorite. This Northrup dance season has been a wonderful experience. The energy of the Vrinsky ballet was especially exhilirating to watch, and the Suzanne Farrell ballet was a beautiful rendition of dance history. All in all, it has been a joy every step of the way. Thank you!

With two vastly different, yet equally exquisite dance companies taking the Northrop stage this month (Akram Khan Company & Suzanne Farrell Ballet), my thoughts have lingered on contrast--how it amplifies movement and how we perceive it. When I attend a dance performance, I try to take a mental snapshot of at least two moments during a piece--freeze frame a potent exchange between dancers or a particularly inspiring pose. The first of these moments occurred in Khan's "bahok" when Saju, previously engaged in comic cell phone banter, sinks into a deep plie, extends one hand vertically in the center of his chest, while the other hand, fisted, holds steady in the center of the extended palm. He held this pose for a spell--this stoic stance transporting me to India, however briefly. In the depths of this seemingly simple physical mold, the memory of ancient wisdom and storytelling reside. In that moment, Saju embodied India, in all its' rich complexity, no easy feat amidst the frenzy of travel and shifting narratives recreated on stage. The freeze frame moment with Suzanne Farrell's production held more subtlety to it--the opening pose for the pas de deux of Apollon Musagete, the first piece on Saturday afternoon's docket, captured my attention. The female dancer, depicting the Muse Terpischore, is seated, her glance askance, while the male dancer, Apollo, stands adjacent to her on the diagonal, his glance opposite hers. Both of their arms are extended, meeting at one point: their index fingers. In the quiet connection of their fingertips, an animated Sistine Chapel beckons and we're no longer seated in Minneapolis, but beneath one of the greatest works of art in Italy. Amidst thousands of other striking movements, sequences, lifts, lunges, turns, and jumps, these two static freeze frames held me in awe, if for nothing more than their simplicity and the places they evoked in stillness. They came to represent for me that pivotal still point, that necessary interval of time where dancer and audience member alike breathe, inviting themselves to fully integrate the motion that has come before and all that will follow. One theme both "bahok" and Farrell's Balanchine repertory shared is that of the body as a carrier--the bearer of memory, culture, home, hope, and history. Movement can be both inherited, as evidenced in Balanchine's legacy, or created through innovation and collaboration, as seen with Khan. Both choreographers have sought integration of multiple movement forms as a mechanism for furthering our perceptions of humanity. These were not isolated performance experiences, as the energy of every movement stays on the Northrop stage, it permeates the air, creating an ongoing tapestry of dance. As evidenced by the injury sustained by Momchil Mladenov last Friday night during Farrell's production of Agon, the fragility of this art form is both its' greatest strength and curse. How quickly movement can be stolen from the dancer. These still points and contrasts help to preserve the integrity of this fragile forum for somatic dialogue--of which we all play a part, being in the static, the stillness, and the flux of movement, in all the questions that arise from within the interplay. The places in between where we recombobulate--that's where the intelligence and evolution of thought germinate.

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With two vastly different, yet equally exquisite dance companies taking the Northrop stage this month (Akram Khan Company & Suzanne Farrell Ballet), my thoughts have lingered on contrast--how it amplifies movement and how we perceive it. <a href="">piñas coladas</a>

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