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NYCB Vol. 4 No. 21 - Symphony in C

Happy birthday to NYCB! On this day in 1948, New York City Ballet held its first performance which included Symphony in C! Tonight a full-house of 21st-century ballet-goers will get to experience this same masterpiece...seventy-four years later....

I can't watch the 2nd movement adagio without thinking of this story Suzanne tells in her autobiography:

"I was in profile in a deep penché split on pointe in the center of the stage, holding both of Conrad's hands for support. [See photo 2] It had always seemed that there was just a little too much music for the movement down and up however slowly it was done. "Can you touch your head to your knee?" Mr. B. asked, and everyone onstage looked astonished; it was a weird, unorthodox, acrobatic thing to ask for in teh middle of a very classical adagio. I bent down, put my forehead on my knee and mumbled, "Like this?" "Yes, like that."

"On one occasion this feat of flexibility caused me considerable embarrassment when a rhinestone on my tiara caught on my tights at my knee, and as I tried to rise again, I watched a long pink snag from my tights begin to unravel in front of my nose. [...] I bend my head back down to my knee, praying for divine intervention, and got it. The thread broke and I rose up triumphantly to meet Conrad's puzzled gaze—“What on earth were you doing down there?" There I was, attached to my own knee at a profundly beautiful and much awaited moment in the ballet; it was a real struggle not to laugh, but I was still wearing my crown and controlled myself until we were offstage." — Holding on to Air by Suzanne Farrell (affiliate link)

Sean Lavery and Suzanne Farrell in the finale. Martha Swope, 1979.

Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins. Martha Swope, 1983.

Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins. Martha Swope, 1975.

New York Public Library

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