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MARCH 22 & 23
The story of ballet in America cannot be told without recounting the enormous contributions made by the Russian choreographer George Balanchine, whose seamless melding of rigorous technique with modern experimentalism made him one of the greatest dance figures ever. But “Mr. B,” as his devoted and exasperated New York City Ballet dancers called him, never worked alone; always a woman danced in his head—ethereal, playful, inspirational. After working under the slender shadows of Tanaquil LeClerc (who became his fourth wife), Allegra Kent, and Diana Adams, Balanchine found her, Suzanne Farrell, a teenage Ohioan who grew up to be his Elusive Muse. Anne Belle and Deborah Dickson’s simple and informative biographical documentary of Farrell’s dancing life enjoys the enthusiastic participation of Farrell, as well as her husband, Paul Mejia (with whom she de-camped from NYCB to join Maurice Bejart’s Belgian company), Bejart himself, and former partner Jacques D’Amboise, who tells his dreamy ballet stories in piercing Nooyawkspeak. During a most unballetic time, the ’60s and ’70s, Balanchine created from Farrell’s spark some of his greatest dances, dances she still teaches to young students today. Elusive Muse tells a fascinating story about discipline, love, and artistry, but it is most valuable for the yards of wonderful, often rare, dance footage, from classes to performances. At 4:30 & 6:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $6.50. (202) 828-4090. (Arion Berger)