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Amy Reusch

rEVOLUTION

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So happy that my daughter me (nice role reversal) to see Boston Ballet's rEVOLUTION on Friday, Feb 28.

i was really looking forward to Agon, one of my favorite Balanchine ballets... and I was looking forward to seeing Forsythe's In the Middle, somewhat  elevated....  as I had never seen his work live before, only on the flat screen.   I was mildly curious to see Glass Pieces, but not particularly, as the video clips I've caught in the past never particularly piqued my interest.

But wow!! Glass Pieces!!!  Boston Ballet really gets this piece!  And Lia Cirio, wow, just wow!  I've seen her dance every few years, but hadn't seen her lately... she has truly come into her own... as if she stole the "evolution" in the title to show just how far she has come.   

But, back to Glass Pieces...I have never seen Einstein on the Beach, (and my memory is infamous) but someone who was in it described how he just continually jogged across the stage always in the same direction... imagining what this might have looked like has stuck in my head for almost 40 years... is Robbins dancers among walking people derivative?  I don't know, but it was so effective...it was like watching Dances At  Gathering performed in the subway walkways during rush hour.  Cirio however was in Facades, which I was sorry to learn was not called Ahkenaton... as it seemed performed against a Nile of corps dancers...  The Coda was my daughter's favorite and much as I admired Boston Ballet's male contingent in it, the choreography mostly reminded me of Robbin's Broadway work, which I think I am just the wrong generation for.  But I loved watching the large ensrmble manage to fill the stage with tremendous energy travelling in every direction without crashing into each other... loved the eye contact between the dancers, hard to explain, but what a company!

I had never heard Thom Willems' music with the extremely dimensional sound design.  I was familar the music, but it was as if it had been taken apart with certain elements exaggerated and given direction. It was kind of distracting... as if it was darting around the house while the dancers were behind the proscenium.   The dancing was fantastic, with all the dancing virtuostic but certain dancers asserting their own signature onto the movement more convincingly than others.  I have always felt no one quite looks at home in the movement as much as Guillem did, but some of BB's male principals pulled this off as well.  Wonderful to see.

i must be getting old.  Perhaps I am losing night vision, but the only lighting I liked (and liked quite a bit) was for Glass Pieces.  For both Agon & In the Middle... the hot highlights on the dancers were hard to look at... in Agon, the men's white Tshirts were so flourescently bright it distracted from the movement.  For In the Middle.... the hot light from above made my irises want to close down like a video camera, making the shadowy black even more shadowy.  I would say sit closer than under the balcony if you go, perhaps it looks better up close..

 

 

Edited by Amy Reusch

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Forsythe does seem to favor hot light from above, without as much side light as I'm accustomed to, so I miss the sculptural aspects that the sides provide.  But even so, I love his work, especially the density and the clarity.  I had a chance to watch Vertiginous in rehearsal when it was staged on Pacific Northwest Ballet, and was gobsmacked at how classical it was, despite the velocity.  It was indeed thrilling.

Glass Pieces has a wonderful sense of going, and it really makes me think about the early post-modernists and their commitment to pattern.  It sounds like a great program!

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So very post modernist, it interests me that Robbins tried his hand at that...

I see more Balanchine descent in Forsythe than in Tharp.

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9 hours ago, sandik said:

Glass Pieces has a wonderful sense of going, and it really makes me think about the early post-modernists and their commitment to pattern.  

I love Glass Pieces and have planned trips around opportunities to see it. It has a place in history that is worth noting: George Balanchine died on April 30, 1983, and the gloom-and-doom at the time was the worry that ballet was "dead." Then, a mere two weeks later, on May 12, Glass Pieces premiered. Of course, Robbins had been working on it for a very long time, but the change in mood was palpable. Maybe ballet isn't dead after all! https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/g/glass-pieces.aspx

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I saw opening night and Friday night. Glass Pieces is one of my favorites, and paired with Balanchine and Forsythe ... well, for me, it does not get much better. The first night of Glass Pieces felt a little under rehearsed, but the second evening did not disappoint. I could watch that ballet time and again and not tire of it.  I love the patterns and that music!  It was also good to see John Lam dance the central pas. 
 

Agon was beautifully danced on opening night. Cirio and Arrais (back on stage after a long injury recovery) danced the pas. There was audible gasping in the audience while they danced, and enthusiastic applause when they finished the pas and during bows. Both Cirio and Ji Young Chae seem to be very highlighted in this run of shows. 
 

In the Middle felt a little odd on opening night. I have seen this ballet several times, and I felt almost on Thursday as if the ballet was outdated (strange because the other works are older, but feel timeless.) Paul Craig seemed to be the most at home in the movement the first evening.  He is such a musical dancer anyway. Friday night’s cast with Cirio and Fentroy, Yocum, Rines and Silva brought a whole different feel. The ballet suddenly felt contemporary again. 

This is probably one of my favorite programs Boston has done. If you can get there, do so. I am seeing one more because I am sure they will not repeat Glass Pieces any time soon! 

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My daughter went with a crowd from BU's honors college opening night and they all adored the Forsythe and Glass Pieces.  I was surpised Agon was less well received, but I think their ears and eyes have been more trained for the other two... Remembe back when the repetitiveness of Philip Glass & Steve Reich was controversial?  This generation grew up with that style of music  as soundtracks for movies and tv advertisements (different sure, but more similar than 12 tone)  And the Forsythe sure speaks to the Instagram generation.  Balanchine's Agon lines are best delivered clean cool and with stillness.  Not made to be punched or muddled.  The timing is tricky... as is the movement intention... if there is no reach in the extension because it came so very easily, perhaps it misses a subtle dramatic quality... and yet if the reach is over emphasized, the sophistication is lost.  Decades ago PA Ballet used to do a killer Agon, but the dancers had the advantage of being closer in time to the originsators.  Not sure what the answer was, but I imagine the casting makes a difference.  I don,t have my program handy (which oddly had the wrong cast anyway,  but I wrote down the corrections) but some of the dancers seemed better in it than others... who looked like they were doing Rubies or Forsythe or Elo perhaps... the muscle memory must be so close in some of those movements!   I remember liking the blonde dancer in the pas de trois.  The toss somehow did not quite hit it though.  And there were some strange overly fay wrists in some sections that I don't remember having that quality in other productions... bent, sure, but not flipped.

Edited by Amy Reusch

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Funny, Agon was probably best received as a whole that first evening. I think the blonde was Dawn Atkins the second evening, but I do believe that the casting for Agon was correct in the program. I could be wrong. The two men in the pas de trois are probably a little more inexperienced, hence the toss not quite as successful as the previous night. You are so right about the movement quality in Agon - that’s a great way to put it. “Not punched or muddled.”
 

On another note, I am sad that PA ballet has changed rather drastically. I know there are those who prefer it now, but I miss the days of gorgeous Balanchine work without having to drive to NYC.  

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I just looked at my program, and you are right, Amy. The casting in the program was all mixed up. 

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A lot of "flu" going 'round... perhaps someone was under the weather in the program proofing department...

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On 2/28/2020 at 10:17 PM, Amy Reusch said:

I see more Balanchine descent in Forsythe than in Tharp.

Absolutely.  Forsythe is working from a neo-classical base, for all that he stretches it as far as he possibly can.

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