Boston Ballet Spins Into Its New Season
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Although concerts, comedy shows, going to the movies, or hitting up the bars often dominate the college night life off campus, there is one venue for entertainment that is vastly overlooked by the student body—the ballet. Boston is home to one of the most impressive ballets in the country, and their performances at the Boston Opera House are only a short ride down the T. For an alternative, artistic escape in the city, definitely try the ballet this fall, especially in light of the newest piece by the Ballet, “Awake Only,” which premiered on Thursday, Oct. 25. Opening night for the Fall Program was a jam-packed evening of three pieces that left the audience awe-inspired by the end of the night.
In the evening’s first piece, “Rooster,” choreographed by Christopher Bruce, a dynamic cast of men and women took the stage in what proved to be both an upbeat and thrilling piece. Set to a nontraditional score of Rolling Stones tunes, the piece had a decidedly ’60s vibe. Guitar riffs were punctuated with jetes, and there was not a tutu or score of classical music in sight. From the first moment the dancers hit the stage, the audience members knew they were in for a stunning treat, something that was a bit different from the norm. It was an unexpected way to start the night, and a strange juxtaposition in Boston’s opulent Opera House, but somehow so fitting as well.
The male dancers really stole the show in this piece, each donning a suit and pastel shirt, as they mimicked the strutting motions of a rooster. The piece was not only stunning in its music and costume choices (although, the female dancers’ outfits left a bit to be desired and were reminiscent of bad cheerleader costumes), but the contemporary piece had a strong storyline throughout. Although fun and and upbeat, the dancers brought the audience through a passionate depiction of love in all its forms, from flirtation to heartbreak. “Rooster” was a piece that truly resonates with so many different people, at so many different places in their lives. It exemplified the strengths of the Boston Ballet as a whole—amazing classical training with strong, punchy flair.
But it was the evening’s second piece that everyone was eagerly anticipating. Choreographer Jorman Elo’s 10th world premiere ballet for the Boston Ballet, “Awake Only,” led to a packed Opera House. “This new work is a captivating, complex, and poignant journey,” said Artistic Director for the Boston Ballet Mikko Nissinen. Set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach, one would think that “Awake Only” would exhibit all of the characteristics of a classic ballet performance—dancers in pink tutus and tights elegantly and gracefully gliding across the stage, performing wonders of ballet mastery, while their male counterparts lifted them to dizzying heights. What the crowd at the Opera house saw, however, was so much more.
The piece, which included eight women—two men, and one young boy, Liam Lurker of the Boston Ballet School—was far from expected. The dancers exhibited an incredible use of space on the stage, and played with the energy between themselves—they were not only physically connected during lifts and touches, but also in breaking with the traditional, played with effects of repulsion and attraction, leading to a truly dynamic energy that leapt off the stage. The dancers also mixed principles of rigidity and fluidity in their movements in an unusual and stunning way: one half of a dancer’s body would be contracting into a ridged, modern shape, while the other half glided with pure flow across the stage. The piece spoke to the intricacies of life, and touched on poignant themes of intimacy and loss, all in a short period of time.
After the visual thrill, and exciting premier of “Awake Only,” the audience was struck by yet another modern and unusual piece that did not fail to get their attention. As the curtain opened on “The Second Detail,” choreographed by William Forsythe, the audience was struck by the drab gray costumes the dancers wore, designed by Yumiko Takeshima and Issey Miyake. The costumes and dull background, dotted with a line of chairs upstage, made it difficult to discern, at first, which dancers were male and which were female. They all existed in a sort of unisex space that perfectly mirrored the flawlessly coordinated group pieces that dominated “The Second Detail.” Definitely the piece with the biggest group choreography, the dance stood out from the first two. The dancers moved not in slow languid strokes, but with a sassy urgency, in time with the discordant, percussive beat.
There are often a lot of misconceptions about the ballet, especially among a young group of college students. It is hardly for the stuffy, middle-aged, or classical music lovers only. The Boston Ballet consistently brings to the stage new, exciting, upbeat, edgy, and modern pieces. They provide visually stunning art, and are a true Boston gem that should not be missed. With the latest piece to hit the stage, “Awake Only,” and with the Christmas season around the corner, and the revamping of the Ballet’s rendition of the classic “Nutcracker,” everyone should get tickets this season.