Suzanne Farrell and Tony Bennett to Receive Kennedy Center Honors

Classic Arts News   Suzanne Farrell and Tony Bennett to Receive Kennedy Center Honors
 
Ballet dancer and teacher Suzanne Farrell and pop and jazz vocalist Tony Bennett are among the performing artists receiving the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors, the center announced today.

Actress Julie Harris; actor, director, and producer Robert Redford; and rhythm and blues singer Tina Turner will also be presented with the award.

The honors, which recognize lifetime achievement in the performing arts, will be presented at a State Department dinner on Saturday, December 3. On December 4, the honorees will be feted at a White House ceremony, a gala performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House, and a supper dance in the center's Grand Foyer. The gala performance will be broadcast later in the month on CBS television.

"We honor five extraordinary American artists whose unique and abundant contributions to our culture have transformed our lives," Kennedy Center chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said in a statement.

"Tony Bennett is a brilliant musician and singer's singer whom even the great Frank Sinatra called the best there is; Suzanne Farrell's profound artistry has inspired the creation of masterpieces and is teaching ballet to a new generation; for half a century, the enchanting Julie Harris has been one of this country's most acclaimed and revered actors; Robert Redford is an actor/director whose extraordinary support of independent film has had an immeasurable impact on filmmakers and audiences alike; and Tina Tuner's sizzling talent and indomitable spirit has made her one of the world's best-loved entertainers."

Farrell joined New York City Ballet at the age of 16 and spent much of her 28-year career as a dancer there; George Balanchine created many roles for her. After retiring from the stage, she became a teacher. Since 2000, she has directed Suzanne Farrell Ballet, which performs annually at the Kennedy Center. This year, she was widely praised for her revival of Balanchine's Don Quixote.

Bennett first came to prominence with a series of pop hits in the early 1950s. By the end of the decade, he had shifted toward a Sinatraesque jazz style; in the '60s, he enjoyed continued success with albums of standards and Broadway songs. His popularity cooled in the 1970s, but grew again in the late 1980s, driven by the swing revival. Over the last 15 years, he has had a series of major hits, some of them featuring duets with pop singers, and has become an omnipresent cultural icon.

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