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ND Presents dances to start

Sarah Vabulas | Thursday, October 30, 2003

To connect with its new neighbors, U.S. Cellular has entered into a major sponsorship agreement that unites the company with both Notre Dame and the city of South Bend. Under this agreement, U.S. Cellular will sponsor “NDPresents: LIVE at the Morris.” The series will celebrate music and the arts through three performances – The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, La Boheme and Cirque Eloize, taking place at the Morris Performing Arts Center throughout the coming months.

“This series at the Morris is a fine example of how public/private sponsorships with South Bend and Notre Dame can benefit the entire community,” said South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke. “It is my great pleasure to welcome U.S. Cellular to South Bend and thank them for their significant commitment to our community.”

“We greatly appreciate U.S. Cellular’s support of this program that benefits students and residents alike,” said John Haynes, Judd and Mary Lou Leighton director of performing arts for Notre Dame and executive director of the Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. “We look forward to enhancing our relationship with U.S. Cellular in the future as the university expands its involvement in the performing arts.”

On Monday, U.S. Cellular, which will offer wireless service to northern Indiana starting Nov. 1, presented Notre Dame with a check for $15,000 to co-sponsor the new series.

“On behalf of Notre Dame, we know that this is the beginning of a long relationship with U.S. Cellular that benefits both the residents of the South Bend area as well as Notre Dame students,” Haynes said.

Tuesday night, the first of the three events took place at the Morris Performing Arts Center – The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. It was a beautiful event with amazing and talented dancers. They lit up the stage with elaborate costumes and graceful, poetic movements throughout the four-part ballet. The men and women of the company include principal dancers Jennifer Fournier, Chan Hon Goh, Natalia Magnicaballi, Peter Boal and Runqiao Du.

They danced “Divertimento No. 15” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the “Pas de Deux” from Swan Lake by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, “Tempo di Valse” from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky and “Serenade” by Tchaikovsky.

In 1993 and 1994, in order to fulfill a mission to enhance the arts education of America’s young people, the Education Department of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts offered two series of ballet master classes for students from metropolitan Washington and Baltimore with the legendary Suzanne Farrell.

This series provided intermediate to advanced-level ballet students the opportunity to study with one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century. Due to the uniqueness of Farrell’s place in the ballet world and the quality of her teaching, the Kennedy Center enlarged the program to a national level in 1995. This intensive three-week program, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, takes place each summer and has just finished its 11th session.

In the fall of 1999, Farrell took cues from the masters of ballet with whom she danced, admired and inspired to present The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts special production for the Millennium Season, Suzanne Farrell Stages the Masters of 20th Century Ballet. The works of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Maurice Bejart took on a new life with Farrell and the grace of the company she selected for a five-week east-coast tour.

In the fall of 2000, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, now a full-fledged company and an ongoing project of the Kennedy Center, made its debut during the Kennedy Center’s Balanchine Celebration performing “Divertimento No. 15.”

“[The Suzanne Farrell Ballet] rendition of ‘Divertimento No. 15’ was rapt, lyric, gloriously unified in tone and filled with moments in which dancers were at thrilling risk, reaching beyond their capabilities they’re certain of to become more than they or we dreamed they might be,” Tobi Tobias of New York Magazine said.

The company again performed in early 2001 at Seven Days of Opening Nights at Florida State University where, at the beginning of the 2000 academic year, Farrell accepted a tenured professorship in the Dance Department.

That exclusive engagement included the company premiere of Balanchine’s Variations for Orchestra. Prior to a northeast tour, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet opened the Kennedy Center’s ballet season in the fall of 2001 with nearly two weeks of performances in the Eisenhower Theatre – featuring no less than six company premieres. The company was again seen at the Kennedy Center in the fall of 2002, performing, among other works, company premieres of Balanchine’s “Chaconne,” “Raymonda Variations” and “Who Cares?” as well as A Farewell to Music with Canadian choreographer Anthony Morgan.

Following this extensive fall 2003 US tour that will, for the first time, take them to the West Coast, the company will open the Kennedy Center’s 2003-2004 ballet season with a full week of performances in the Eisenhower Theater.