Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ballet Review: The Suzanne Farrell Ballet

Last week my friends and I went to the Kennedy Center to see the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. I try to take every opportunity to see the ballet (especially at such an amazing venue!), and this performance did not disappoint.

Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Image found here.
This ballet was made up of parts of several different ballets. The first was the Walpurgisnacht Ballet (I think that means an ancient German festival?). I didn't realize how large the company was, and there were so many ballerinas on stage. I was surprised that they had their hair in ponytails rather than the usual buns, and their costumes looked like nightgowns. Because we were sitting quite close to the stage, we could hear the stomping from their shoes, which can be distracting. The dance includes some moves like hopping on pointe; it's not particularly graceful, but I can imagine how difficult it must be to do that.

At the very end, the music was very energetic and aggressive, and when they dancers came on stage, they had their hair completely down! I've never seen that before! I don't know how they could see anything with their hair in their faces as they jumped and spun around the stage. One girl actually fell, but she got up quickly and recovered as if nothing had happened, so good for her.

I liked this piece, but it was not particularly memorable for me. But the main dancers, Violeta Angelova and Ted Seymour, danced very well together, and some of the lifts were particularly impressive. Allynne Noelle also did a great job on this piece (and throughout the rest of the night); I'm surprised she's not a soloist!

A Midsummer Night's Dream. Image found here.
Next up was a piece from A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is one of my favorite plays, so I was really looking forward to this part. But, because it was only a small bit of the full ballet, you really don't get the feeling of the whole story. It felt like it was lacking something. The Pepto-Bismol pink outfit that Heather Ogden wore was just awful, and this was a simpler dance with fewer lifts and the like. This dance was a little "blah" for me; without the rest of the story to give the audience background on what's going on, it just looked like two people dancing. Meh.

A scene from Romeo and Juliet came next. This was a very romantic piece, although it was a little too sexual for me. We know this story of young love and innocence lost, but the dance doesn't have to be so literal: Natalia Magnicaballi had her legs wrapped around Michael Cook's waist; she was on her knees with her face at level with his crotch; they were rolling around the floor embracing each other. We get it. And again, because we were sitting so close, we could notice things that other people in the audience may not have seen. For example, when the two were dancing together, their hands were wobbling as they were trying to stay in position. But I did enjoy all of the lifts, and some of the moves were pretty amazing!

Then other dances joined in, representing the two families (Capulets and Montagues). Each side was wearing a different color (those in green reminded me of Peter Pan or Robin Hood), and I half-expected them to start snapping à la West Side Story. I did like how, even though this was only one scene from the full ballet, you could understand the full story, unlike the previous piece.

Emeralds. Image found here.
The last piece was "Emeralds" from Jewels. I've heard of this ballet, but I've never seen it. It was absolutely beautiful. There was actually an audible gasp from the audience when the curtain went up and we saw all the dancers in their sparkly costumes and the deep green, jewel-like backdrop. The music was subtle and gentle, and the dancing was lovely to watch (although Ian Grosh needs a serious haircut). The prima ballerinas did a great job (They were the same main dancers the whole night; I wonder why the company didn't mix things up a bit.), and I was surprised when the piece ended with only the men on stage (an interesting twist). This was by far my favorite piece of the night!

While I can't say this was my favorite ballet performance, I did enjoy myself, and I liked that I could get a taste of several ballets all at once. Now I want to see a full performance of Jewels! Next time!

P.S. As much as I love the ballet, every time I go, no matter what company, all I can think of is the dancing ostriches and hippos in Disney's Fantasia.

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