- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2000

The parade of athletes in Sydney was a thrilling sight for those watching the opening of the Olympic Games on overhead TV monitors at Dominique's Famous Restaurant Friday night.

But only until about 10:30 p.m. or so, when the arrival of three stunning troupes of dancers caused a near 100 percent drop in viewer attention from the flag-waving swimmers, gymnasts and decathlon champs.

Sleek, lithe and ravenously hungry after their performances onstage at the Kennedy Center's George Balanchine Festival, members of the Miami City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and Suzanne Farrell Ballet companies turned every head as they swept past guests awaiting them in the room's most strategic gawking point: midway between the bar and buffet.

"Dancers are the most refined athletes in the world, but they are also artists," said Edward Villella, the Miami Ballet's founding artistic director, sounding authoritative in his comparison, as well he should. After all, his stellar ballet career was preceded by several years as a championship boxer.

Suzanne Farrell tended to agree, although she didn't see much point in elaborating similarities or differences between two often grueling fields of physical endeavor. "Ballet is its own world," she said, midstride out the door to another late-night appointment. "Everybody should dance a ballet once in their life. It's a wonderful feeling."

Despite appearing in tandem with other companies to perform various Balanchine masterworks in the Kennedy Center's three-week ballet marathon, the dancers were barely conscious of competing. Forget about the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat at this party.

"The festival isn't competitive at all," said Eric Lindemer, a Farrell company member who mentioned the inspirational music as well as "more leeway for interpretation and technique" as the reasons why he switched to dance after years of training as a Junior Olympics gymnast.

"We're just trying to give respect to a great choreographer," added the Miami Ballet's Bruce Thornton.

No need for silver, gold and bronze.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide