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Boston Ballet at Jacob's Pillow

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I went to see the Boston Ballet at Jacob's Pillow yesterday. This was my first time seeing this company, and I ended up being very favorably impressed.

The program consisted of Jorma Elo's Bach Cello Suites, two works by Leonid Yakobson, Pas de Quatre and Rodin, and excerpts from William Forsythe's Playlist (EP). 

The Bach Cello suites featured live music from cellist Sergey Antonov, who was seated on the far right sight of the stage throughout. Somewhat to my surprise, I enjoyed this ballet, although I did feel that it went on a bit too long. It also had some false endings--lighting dims, dancer strike a pose, audience begins to clap, ballet goes on.  And on. Although the dancers were excellent, I don't know them well enough to recognize/remember who was who in the cast of 10 dancers. 

MadameP's description of Leonid Yakobson's Shurale a few months back, piqued my interest  in Yakobson's choreography, so I was particularly interested in seeing his two works. The first was Pas de Quatre, featuring Dawn Atkins, Nina Matiasvili, Lia Cirio, and Lauren Herfendahl. The back wall of the theater was opened for this ballet, so it was danced against the beautiful backdrop of the trees behind the theater on the Pillow grounds. It began with all four dancers, dressed in romantic white tutus, in the traditional posed seen in the historic Pas de Quatre, although the choreography was not strictly romantic in style. The first section is danced with the dancers holding hands the entire time. Then, there were variations for each of them, followed by a finale, ending with the dancers again in the iconic pose. The dancing of Cirio and Matiashvili particularly impressed me in this ballet. 

After a brief pause, the curtain opened on the second Yakobson piece, Rodin, where the first thing we see is four pairs of dancers, each pair lit by a spotlight, on an otherwise dark stage. Each pair was posed as one of four Rodin sculptures: The Eternal Spring, The Kiss, The Eternal Idol, and Minotaur and Nymph. Costumes were beige unitards. The lights then dimmed again, then rise on the first pair of dancers who danced and then returned back to the starting pose--this general structure was followed for each of the four "sculptures" in turn.  The first three were choregraphed in 1958, whereas Minotaur and Nymph was from 1971 and was stylistically different from the three previous sculptures-- sexier and more abstract. This was a big audience favorite. All of the dancers were, again, excellent with Soo-Bin Lee and Matthew Slattery in Minotaur and Nymph. 

Last was the excerpts from Playlist (EP)--I was surprised at how much I liked this. Although the playlist was modern (Surely Shorty/Pevan Everett, Location/Khalid, Vegas/Abra, and Impossible/Lion Babe/Jax Jones), it was very danceable and the ballet was exhilarating to watch, particularly the dances at the beginning and end featuring 12 male dancers. There was also a lovely pas de deux for Chrystyn Fentroy and Desean Taber. Next to last was a dance for six women, with Lia Cirio and Viktorina Kapitonova particularly featured, and both wonderful. Costumes were short hot pink dresses for the women and hot pink tops with bright blue pants with hot pink racing stripes for the men.

You can see the post-performance talk here: https://www.jacobspillow.org/events/boston-ballet/

Slightly off-topic: Yesterday was the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves in what would become the U.S.A, and all of the U.S. National Parks and Landmarks held commemorative ceremonies at 3 pm to mark this event. Because Jacob's Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, there was a ceremony during the intermission--Pamela Tatge, the Director of Jacob's Pillow, made some brief remarks and then there was four minutes of bell-ringing, one minute for each century. It was quite moving.

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"The back wall of the theater was opened for this ballet, so it was danced against the beautiful backdrop of the trees behind the theater on the Pillow grounds."  That must have been stunning.

I'm so glad that Boston is presenting these works of Yakobson's -- he was a significant choreographer who likely won't be retained in many Russian repertories.

On 8/26/2019 at 1:09 PM, FPF said:

Slightly off-topic: Yesterday was the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves in what would become the U.S.A, and all of the U.S. National Parks and Landmarks held commemorative ceremonies at 3 pm to mark this event. Because Jacob's Pillow is a National Historic Landmark, there was a ceremony during the intermission--Pamela Tatge, the Director of Jacob's Pillow, made some brief remarks and then there was four minutes of bell-ringing, one minute for each century. It was quite moving.

I'm very glad to hear about this as well.  We forget sometimes that we live in a country that derives a big chunk of its wealth from this miserable business.  I've been working my way through the NYT magazine 1619 materials.  Hard and important reading.

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