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Performance Guide


The Suzanne Farrell Ballet

Working R e h earsal

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Three by Balanchine

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One Choreographer, Three Different Ballets The Suzanne Farrell Ballet presents three very different ballets by the same choreographer, George Balanchine (pronounced BAH-lahn-sheen). Performed together, they show the progression of Balanchine’s career from his work in Europe as a young man, to his time on Broadway choreographing musicals, and finally to the era for which he is best remembered—his development of New York City Ballet. The selections also demonstrate Balanchine’s ability to tell a story through choreography, as well as create works that are primarily about movement, with no plot.

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Divertimento No. 15 (1956) Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Balanchine believed that music could directly inspire choreography and named several of his works after musical compositions. He most admired Mozart’s Divertimento No. 15, and considered it the finest example of the divertimento style. Divertimentos (dih-vur-tuh-MENtohs) are background music from the 18th century composed to divert and charm audiences.


A ballet with an uneven number of women and men—of the eight principal dancers, there are five females and three males. This asymmetry creates tension and interest. Five separate dance movements. In the fourth movement, the five principal women come out one by one to dance duets with male partners. This mirrors what is happening in the music as the main melody is elaborated and varied. The classical feel of this story-less ballet. While there is no plot to follow, the dancers exude a noble, aristocratic bearing and perform their ballet steps with clarity and precision. Shapes, lines, and patterns created by the principal dancers and corps of ballerinas.

The Prodigal Son (1929)

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Music by Sergei Prokofiev

The way Balanchine’s choreography is used to express the emotions of each character:

Scene One. The Son and his friends prepare for a journey while his sisters look on. The Father enters and the Son stops abruptly. The Father attempts to gather his children in prayer. The Son struggles to obey, breaking away in anger. Determined to leave, the Son exits by leaping over the fence. Scene Two. The young men come across a group of revelers. Things are tense until the Son shares his provisions; everyone drinks and has a raucous time. The Son meets the Siren, a beautiful woman who seduces him and encourages him to get drunk. Together with the revelers and his former friends, the Siren robs the Son of his belongings, leaving him destitute and alone.

The Son executes energetic leaps at first, full of innocence and confidence. Later, he bows humbly and shamefully to his father. The Revelers scurry around like insects; their movements and bare heads make them seem subhuman. The Siren walks on her knees, moving in a cool, calculating way. She is dispassionate and detached, yet still seductive. She manipulates her long cape like it’s a part of her body, executing snake-like movements as if capturing and devouring her prey. The Father has a stiff and strong posture as the proud head of his family. When the Son returns, the Father is reserved at first, but then demonstrates his love and forgiveness by gathering his nowhumbled child close in his cloak.

Scene Three. Left exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, the Son crawls with the support of a staff. He searches for his home, but doesn’t know where he is. Finally, he is reunited with his family and is forgiven.

About Suzanne Farrell Suzanne Farrell is regarded as one of the greatest Suzanne Farrell ballerinas of the 20th century. She has danced in more than 100 ballets, nearly one-third of which were created expressly for her by choreographer George Balanchine. Farrell utilizes her memories of and personal experience with Balanchine’s choreography when working with her own dancers.

Photo by Paul Kolnik

The Prodigal Son is based on a biblical story about a rebellious son who leaves home, squanders his inheritance, and then returns to beg forgiveness.

Photo by Carol Pratt

David M. Rubenstein Chairman

Lisa Reneau and Kurt Froman in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1936 and 1968) Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Lorenz Hart Slaughter on Tenth Avenue was originally choreographed in 1936 for the Broadway musical On Your Toes, a story about a Russian ballet producer/dancer who is jealous of a budding romance between his girlfriend—the principal ballerina—and a young, talented male dancer. This ballet tells a “story within the story.” The two romantic leads (the ballerina and male dancer) perform this dance as part of a production by their troupe. She plays the role of a Striptease Girl and he is a Hoofer, or tap dancer, who falls in love with her.

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The Boss who doesn’t like the attentions paid to the Striptease Girl by the Hoofer, and puts a dramatic stop to their flirtations in the end. How the Hoofer helps the Striptease Girl down from the table. How Balanchine tells a story of love, revenge, and loss through the course of this ballet. The mixture of ballet moves, tap dancing, and acrobatic show steps in the choreography.

Michael M. Kaiser President Darrell M. Ayers Vice President, Education The Kennedy Center’s Ballet Season is presented with the support of Elizabeth and Michael Kojaian. Generous support for The Suzanne Farrell Ballet is provided by The Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, Emily Williams Kelly, and The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. Additional support for Performances for Young Audiences is provided in part by Adobe Foundation; The Clark Charitable Foundation; Mr. James V. Kimsey; The Macy*s Foundation; The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Park Foundation, Inc.; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; an endowment from the Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation; U.S. Department of Education; Verizon Foundation; Washington Gas; and by generous contributors to the Abe Fortas Memorial Fund, and by a major gift to the fund from the late Carolyn E. Agger, widow of Abe Fortas. Major support for the Kennedy Center’s educational programs is provided by David and Alice Rubenstein through the Rubenstein Arts Access Program. Cuesheets are produced by ArtsEdge, an education program of the Kennedy Center. ArtsEdge is a part of Verizon Thinkfinity, a consortium of free educational Web sites for K-12 teaching and learning. Learn more about Education at The Kennedy Center at The contents of this Cuesheet do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. © 2012 The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet | Three By Balanchine: Working Rehearsal  

The Kennedy Center’s own The Suzanne Farrell Ballet presents a program of three well-known Balanchine ballets that showcase the legacy of th...

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