Suzanne Farrell Revives Balanchine’s "Haieff Divertimento"

Published in the February/March 2010 issue.

Suzanne Farrell rehearses with her dancers.

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Unearthing forgotten Balanchine treasures has been a signature of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. The company has reconstructed another for its Kennedy Center season this March—interestingly, a work that Farrell herself did not dance. Originally choreographed in 1947, Haieff Divertimento faded from New York City Ballet’s repertoire in the early ’50s. It was reconstructed by Kansas City Ballet in 1985 and again for NYCB in 1993, but has not been performed since.

 

Pieces like Haieff “open up new worlds, not only to our dancers, but also to audiences that have never seen them,” says Farrell, who first saw Haieff Divertimento in 1993.  She describes the piece for five couples as jazzy, “but early jazz—jazz of the ’40s.” She finds the central pas de deux especially compelling, full of unorthodox arm movements and rhythmic footwork. “In some places the steps are whispers of future ballets that Mr. B. went on to do,” she says, citing The Four Temperaments in particular. “You can see how Mr. B. was evolving.”  Amy Brandt