Boston Ballet Hosts A Star Studded Show On The Common
Ballet Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary With Free Performance
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 23:09
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Boston Ballet decided to thank the general public with a free performance of some of their most successful dances, as well as the world premiere of former Boston Ballet principal dancer Viktor Plotnikov’s Swan. With ballet generally considered an elite art form with soaring ticket prices, this was the perfect way to introduce this art to the public and provide entertainment for the ballet’s patrons. Boston Common proved the perfect setting for this, with the beautiful backdrop of the city lights and the stars shining through the thin clouds.
Organized by the ballet’s artistic director of 12 years, Mikko Nissinen, and conducted by Jonathan McPhee—the music director and principal conductor—this was a concerted effort from all involved in the company. Seven dances were performed, ranging from a pas de deux danced by Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio to Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements that included the entire cast. Florence Clerc’s “Golden Idol Variation” from La Bayadere also made use of Boston Ballet School Students, a nice way to presage the future of ballet in the city. With a running time of two hours including a 25-minute interval, there was plenty of time to enjoy the ballet without it being too long for those not used to sitting through a three-hour live performance.
The most important aspect of the show was the decision to mix traditional, 19th century ballet pieces with more modern dances, seemingly without preference. The performance started with the pas de deux from Don Quixote, which looks very much like the men-in-tights and pointe-shoed women type of dance one imagines all ballets are like. This is a demanding dance though, and one with a lot of personality as the character Kitri twirls her fan. Then it was time for something entirely different, as five males and five females from the company danced to the songs of the Rolling Stones from British choreographer Christopher Bruce’s 1991 ballet, Rooster. Only excerpts were performed in this show but the feel of the ballet’s ’60s-inspired comment on gender and sexual relationships shone through. Although a shock for anyone expecting traditional ballet, this section showed the ability of these dancers to step out of that world into a dance that incorporates influences from tap, jazz, and ’60s dance itself. With both the men and women literally strutting at some points, this was a lively performance, although sometimes the dance felt too free and the unimportance of exact synchronicity became confusing.
La Bayadere continued this theme of vitality, but this time in a spiritual sense—it is the dance of a Hindu idol and his company. Danced by Avetik Karapetyan, the strength and power of this character were well portrayed. Unlike the other performances on show, Boston Ballet is including La Bayadere in their program this fall, and it will be on at the Boston Opera House from Oct. 24 to Nov. 3.
Another total change in tempo and atmosphere came in the shape of the world premiere of Swan. This dance is centered around beauty, with Lorna Feijoo and Yury Yanowsky reliant on each other throughout the dance. Set to the beautiful music of Camille Saint-Saens’ “The Swan,” Plotnikov’s choreography merges seamlessly with the music and manages to create a new dance for the swan that escapes from that one ballet we all know and love.
Perhaps the intermission would have been more effective following the sublime Swan, but instead came Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, choreographed by—in many people’s opinion—the father of American ballet, George Balanchine. This piece and the subsequent Plan to B and Serenade were performed on tour in London this summer, so it was a lovely idea to include them in a performance indebted to the company’s home city. Symphony is a jarring, contrasting piece with angular music and dance—perhaps not pretty, but three dances that showcased the performers’ athleticism. This theme was continued, after the intermission, in Jorma Elo’s Plan to B, filled with extreme body shapes and fast turns.