OnStage Massachusetts Critic
Boston Ballet’s latest production features three very different, but equally challenging and stunning ballets. From a fast, classical ballet loaded with technique, to an incredibly intricate chorographical masterpiece, to an indescribable contemporary ballet, this production has something for each audience member to enjoy. And based on their response, Friday’s audience was certainly entertained.
The production started off with Donizetti Variations with choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust and music from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Don Sebastian (1843). This twenty-six minute ballet features classic ballet technique and lovely costumes courtesy of Miami City Ballet. It is performed by a corps of six females and three males who dance all together as well as in small groups. There were moments, while in the small groups, where their timing lacked precision. When they began the ballet, it seemed as though some had just plastered a smile on their face and they were merely going through the motions. Their facial expressions improved during the ballet and though they were energetic, they lacked the exuberance. At one point, when a few ladies were standing on the side of the stage, they appeared to have “checked out” and forgotten that whether you’re dancing or not, if you’re on stage you need to be engaged and in character.
The pas de deux of this ballet was wonderfully danced by Ji Young Chae and Irlan Silva. Their up-tempo section was crisp and clean, while their adagio was smooth, fluid and perfectly controlled. They exhibited great partnering skills and superb musicality. Chae’s solo was spirited and fun. She completely lit up the stage displaying obvious joy in her expressions and movements. It was clear she was having a blast. Silva’s solo featured high jumps and boundless energy. Their turn sequences were very well done receiving applause from the audience. Together they were lovely to watch. Later when she (Chae) danced with Samivel Evans, Lawrence Rines, and Marcus Romeo, their dancing and expressions were sweet and playful. The audience, though not overly enthusiastic, seemed to enjoy this upbeat classical ballet.
The second ballet of the evening was Jiří Kylián’s Wings of Wax, and after seeing it, it is undoubtedly one of my favorite ballets performed by the company in recent memory. The choreography was amazingly complex and meticulous and mashed classical and contemporary ballet with various modern techniques and styles. The eight dancers: Rachele Buriassi, Dusty Button, Misa Kuranaga, Dalay Parrondo, Isaac Akiba, Roddy Doble, Lasha Khozashvili, and Patrick Yocum, performed with precision and immaculate musicality. The jumps were high, the turns were fast and every step was strongly executed. One of my favorite sections was when Misa Kuranaga, Isaac Akiba and Lasha Khozashvili danced together. They moved through each other and with each other with angular sharpness and a fantastic connection. The group as a whole danced perfectly in unison. The male solos included fast jumps and turns that flew across the stage. They were able to lift their partners with ease and the females, with complete trust, were tossed, turned, lifted and dragged about the stage. Each musical variation led to new emotional explorations and characterizations. It was fascinating to watch and captivating from start to finish. The dancers fully embodied their movement, the characters they were portraying and the stories they were telling. The audience highly enjoyed this ballet giving it a standing ovation and robust applause.
Alexander Ekman’s Cacti was the third and final ballet of the night and it was odd, amusing and unlike anything I have ever seen. I was mesmerized by not only the choreography, but the entire piece and everything it encompassed: the stunning dancers, the lighting, the string quartet on stage, the set design and of course the cacti. The movement was most often fast and intricate and varied: from following the music to following the spoken word. The duet between Dusty Button and Paul Craig featured a narration that was intended to be a conversation that took place in their heads. It was really cool and it captivated the audience who chuckled numerous times at what was being said and the movement that was paired to the narration. While it was not clear if the audience fully understood or appreciated this ballet, it was obvious that they enjoyed it, giving the dancers and musicians a standing ovation and hearty applause.
These three unique and beautiful ballets make for an enjoyable and entrancing two hours. © Kylián/Wings of Wax performs at the Boston Opera House (539 Washington St, Boston, MA) through April 2nd. Tickets and more information can be found at www.bostonballet.org or by calling the Box Office at 617-695-6955.
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Photo: Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman's Cacti; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet.