For Farrell, practiced perfection

November 23, 1996|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Principal dancer Susan Farrell was one of a select group of women whom choreographer George Balanchine considered his muses and for whom he created ballets.

Farrell is now a part of the George Balanchine Trust, which oversees the production of his dances worldwide. Most recently, she's been working with the Washington Ballet on staging Mozart's "Divertimento No. 15."

Tuesday night there was an open rehearsal and performance at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre. While eight hand-picked dancers performed only two of the ballet's five sections, Farrell called the two movements, "Theme and Variations" and "Andante," the "heart of the ballet."

We learned from Farrell's talk that the ballet had been re-choreographed in 1971 because no one could remember the steps from the original 1956 ballet and that Mozart's music was originally composed as ambient music for the Viennese court.

The opening section, with dancers Peter Stark and Roger Plaut, set the tone of a bygone world. Their mirrored movements created a genteel dialogue that was carried throughout the dance.

Next were a series of almost too-brief solos danced by Tristi McMaster, Jeanene Jarvie, Ju Hyun Jo, Elizabeth Mertz, Runqiao Du and Cheryl Sladkin.

The next section, duets, reiterated and advanced the qualities seen in the Variations' solos. Especially notable were Du's and Jo's pas de deux with its deep backward arch and cascading forward bend. While the Washington Ballet is not a Balanchine company per se, the dancers looked remarkably comfortable with the movements. Undoubtedly, Farrell's skillful coaching set everyone at ease.

Pub Date: 11/23/96

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