Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Suzanne Farrell Ballet to grace Fine Arts Center

By Vincenza Parella

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Amanda Joinson/Collegian

Amanda Joinson/Collegian

After having toured all throughout the United States and parts of Europe, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet will grace the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center concert hall stage with its careful choreography tonight.

Farrell – the group’s choreographer – has been in the ballet business for a long time.

Her career began as a 15-year-old in 1960 when she was accepted to study at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet. There, she quickly rose to stardom within the New York Ballet Company, and Balanchine produced numerous ballets – such as “Diamonds,” “Chaconne” and “Mozartiana” – specifically for her.

According to Farrell’s biography on the ballet company’s website, those ballets at the time pushed “the limits of ballerina technique … to a degree not seen before or since.” Upon her retirement from stage in 1989, she had performed over 2,000 shows across the globe for the Balanchine Company.

Following Balanchine’s death, Farrell – with help from the George Balanchine Trust – sought to recreate his works, some of which had not been performed in over 40 years.

Since 1988, Farrell has, according to the company’s website, choreographed her teacher’s works across Europe. She’s staged shows at the Berlin Opera Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet and the Vienna State Opera Ballet.

Farrell has also recreated Balanchine’s ballets with American companies in cities such as Boston, Cincinnati, Fort Worth, Miami, Seattle and New York, according to the website.

Tonight’s show at UMass will feature three of Balanchine’s “most acclaimed and cherished works,” according to an event page on the company’s website. The ballet will perform “Haieff Divertimento,” “Meditation,”  “Diamonds pas de deux” and “Agon.”

The program began in 1994, as a master’s class at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Within two years, it had expanded to a summer intensive program. And by 2003, it had grown so much that it attracted international students from such countries as Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Japan, Mexico and Switzerland.

“Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell” remains an exclusive program for young dancers that exhibit particular talent, according to the website.

The company has annually performed at the Kennedy Center since 2001 but has also grown to perform nationally just as Farrell did when she was a dancer. The ballet company has over 50 ballets in its current repertoire.

This past October, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet company celebrated 10 years of annual performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts. As part of that celebration the Company is currently traveling across the nation.

In addition to Farrell’s work for the Balanchine Trust, she has contributed to such foundations as New York State Council on the Arts, the Arthritis Foundation, the Professional Children’s School and the Princess Grace Foundation. Her autobiography, “Holding On to the Air,” was published by Summit Books in 1990.

The show starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. Ticket information is available on the Fine Arts Center’s website.

Vincenza Parella can be reached at [email protected]

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