With her superb musicality, dramatic skills and go-for-broke speed and risk taking, Suzanne Farrell inspired Balanchine to push the limits of a dancer’s physical capabilities. Together, the pair helped shift ballet into more creative, athletic and abstract territory.
As part of Balanchine’s three-part plotless ballet Jewels, “Diamonds” was his tribute to imperial Russia and his early career with the Mariinsky Ballet. Farrell captured the elegance and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music with unparalleled grace and control during sustained balances on one leg, intertwining promenades and smooth supported lifts.
Balanchine showcased Farrell’s softness and lyricism in an ethereal pas de deux full of floating arms and a gently wilting upper body. Later, as the music shifts to a more festive melody, Farrell’s dynamism comes out in full force with punchy kicks, lightning-fast petit allégro and effortless turns en manège.
This tribute to Mozart was the last ballet Balanchine created for Farrell before he died in 1983. With classical choreography set to stately music by Tchaikovsky, Mozartiana is regal and joyful. The piece’s theme and variations highlighted Farrell’s featherlight footwork, commanding épaulement and brilliant extension.