October 26, 2010

Boston Ballet Season Previews

As you've probably already read, I am stuck on the couch for an undetermined period of time. This is practically killing me. Here's one good reason why.

Last spring, I saw a couple of spectacular dance performances here in Boston, and I have a little hunch that things are only going to get better this season. Here's the thing. I used to be a hardcore ballet dancer. I'll leave out the gory details, but suffice it to say that it takes a lot to impress me.

But when I saw Boston Ballet's Black and White near the end of last season, I was completely blown away. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. It was strange, scary, overwhelming, beautiful. Has there ever been a moment, during a ballet performance, when you've actually felt afraid? I can't really find words for the choreography, by Jiří Kylián—it was completely original—and the dancers pulled it off spectacularly well.

Afterwards, I wished it was a film and that I could go back to see it again, just the way it was. But that's the thing about a live performance—you can only experience it exactly the same way once.

Anyways, I thought I'd let you know that they'll be performing another piece by the same choreographer next April. You can bet I'll be there, even if they have to cart me in in a wheelbarrow.

This one's called Bella Figura, and here's what the Los Angeles Times has to say about it: “in an increasingly dark world, [Kylián’s] dancers are beautiful enough to give almost anyone renewed faith.”

In the meantime, here's what they've got in store for this season...

La Bayadère (November 4-14): I've seen this ballet a number of times, and I still have no idea what the story is supposed to be. It doesn't matter. It is sensual and extravagant. The choreography tends to be very exciting. It is a really good show, no matter how you cut it. That's all you need to know.

The Nutcracker (November 26-December 31): It's been several years since I've seen Boston Ballet's version of this holiday classic, but I remember it was a really magical experience. Highly recommended, if you can snag some tickets and spare the time in the next couple of months.

Elo Experience (March 24-April 3): This is a performance of two pieces of contemporary choreography, entitled "Plan to B" and "Brake the Eyes." This could be a great way to catch a glimpse of something fresh and interesting, if you don't want to sit through a longer story ballet such as Nutcracker or A Midsummer Night's Dream.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (April 7-17): This is one of the first ballets I ever learned. In fact, I was so young, I don't even remember my role. Flower? Cupcake? No, I've got it: Woodland Fairy.

Anyways, for those who aren't familiar with dance performances, this is a more traditional story ballet, based on the play by Shakespeare. This version is based on choreography by Balanchine, set to music by Mendelssohn.

Bella Figura (April 28-May 8): This is the one I've been waiting for. By the way, the performance notes explain that the ballet features partial nudity. I am not surprised. Black and White, a collection of five pieces by the same choreographer, also pushed the boundaries in different ways. It challenged me. It made me laugh, smile, and cringe. I don't know what to expect this time, but certainly I'm willing to go back for more.

Balanchine/Robbins (May 12-22): Boston Ballet is known to have a knack for Balanchine choreography, but I've never seen them in action. I would love to catch them this time—they're performing Afternoon of a Faun, Antique Epigraphs, Divertimento No. 15, and Symphony in Three Movements. It's all happening right after my exams, so maybe this time I can swing it.

Another reason I was particularly excited about this season has to do with the promotion of one of Boston Ballet's starlets: Lia Cirio. When I was in high school, I spent a summer at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, her home training ground. I am sure that I once watched from the doorway as she completed a long, tedious barre exercise, balanced en pointe, one long leg in the air, no hands, for what seemed like an eternity. Perhaps it was my imagination. Probably not.

As you can see, she is powerful and stunning. I saw her in Black and White last year, and I've seen her in pretty much every Boston Ballet performance I've been to for the last five years. So I'm not surprised, but I'm pleased to notice that she's been promoted to principal dancer.

That's probably all of the ballet notes you can stomach for now, so I think I'll bow out and return to my soup and gatorade. And perhaps a little daydreaming about sugarplum fairies...

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