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boston Ballet opening night


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Hello.I just went to Boston Ballets' opening night performance tonight and I must say that I really enjoyed it.Did anyone see it?They had a world premeire by Jorma Elo(spelling?),they did William Forsyths'"In the MIddle Somewhat Elevated".. and a Mark(C?) Morris piece called Malestrom.I think everyone danced really well.I was pleased with the new members of the company.Someone had mentioned a while ago in a thread about the new dancers in the company something nice about Alexander Whitter(sp?)and I 'll have to agree.I don't remember the exact words,but they were complimentary.He is a dream to watch.He was in both Malestrom and "In the Middle..."and I couldn't stop watching him.There is something distinctive about the way that he moves .Sarah Lamb ,a soloist with the company danced well in "In the Middle..." as did April Ball( a principal).The World premire on the program was a little odd,but perhaps it is an example of things to come.The music was Bach and the movement was interesting,but it was a bit long and I couldn't tell if there was supposed to be a story or not.It was well danced by some veterans of the company as well as new members and a member of the apprentice group,I am just not sure how I felt about it.I didn't dislike it,but there were things that I think would have made me enjoy it better.all in all,I think Mikko Nissenen and the company should be proud.I think this program was a bit of a departure from even their most "Modern " approaches,but the dancers handled it and I will assume they will get better as they relax into it more

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I attended Saturday night performance and wasn't entusiastic as much as the crowd around me. Or beter say, in front of me. I was sitting in the orchestra in row W and very few people were behind me. The balcony didn't gather much people either.

If I'll write a review on this production, probably I could call it "Dangerous games with bodies". I think choreographers should not play with dancer's flexibility without a clear picture in their mind, why they are doing such things, is it fit an idea, is it connecterd with the music?

Marc Morris's "Maelstrom" is very well crafted work. The structure, movements, the musicality are fantastic. He shows different choreographic decisions for the same musical theme, then combines them and separates again. He has a great feeling of the space, when dancers appear on the stage from nowere and unpredictable, almost dissolve in the air, when they go out. He uses neoclassical Killyan's style, with a lot of sliding, twisted torso, falling poses, the repetition of combinations with the delay of every next dancer and it didn't bother me at all, I'd like both of them, Killyan and Morris. He made a great ending in every part, except ... the last one. So, I was a little bit disappointed, what were all this efforts for? I can blame dancers for the bad impression, because in the climax of women's releve on pointe Poliana Ribiero missed the order and, actually, when all couples have to dance in unison (which is not so often in this balet!) they didn't do it well. Another puzzle for me was a flexed foot on the major musical theme. It came just once, without any developpments late and i didn't get it. Why? To remind everybody that he is modern choreographer?

Sorry, has to run, I'll finish late.

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The next piece was by Jorma Elo's "SHARP side of DARK". I found it so empty and so pretentious (starting with the title) that in the end I broke into a 3-minutes speach, when my son said that he likes this piece more then Morris's.

First of all, I hate when the choreography begins without music. It's mean that the music is not important for the choreographer, if he can go in and out of the music when he wants.

Second, the style "anything I want" which remind me of a big salad's bowl with a lot of dressing in it, so you can't really taste vegetables. Modern and classical movements, turn out and turn in, flexed toes and pointed brought together without inner connection, this torture of dancers (to do uncomfortable things, pushing physical abilities of your own body) is going on for the sake of the choreographer's will only. But his will leads to nowere, the choreography didn't stay in your memory, what I can remember now, it's just curving backs of men and women.

Of course, we don't have any differencies in the choreography for men or women, we don't have any connection between dancers in duets. Even so great couple as Thrussel and Ponomarenko couldn't solve the problem, because their freedom and flexibility of movements used by Elo mechanically, duet doesn't have any sense!

The same as lighting. Constructions go up and down, sometimes follow dancers, sometimes not. It shows us possibility of the light, again, for the sake of the light only.

For me it was really boring. I felt like somebody sitting near to me knoking in my head :"You see, this is modern, you have to appreciate it." No way. I don't like when the choreographer treats dancers as pawns in his game with his own dark side (dark means unexplored here) and cover the lack of imagination with modern clothes.

But after the intermission we saw "In the middle, somewhat elevated" by William Forsythe and it was a great relieve.

To my shame, it was the first piece by Forsythe, that I saw alive. What can I say. He is a choreographer! He is bringing back emotions to ballet's world. I see the direct connection between Petipa, Fokine and Forsythe. But instead of Fokine, who tried to escape the iron gait of Petipa's classical creations, Forsythe goes to it with open arms. His work (at least this one) is absolutely classical in approach of balance, pointe work and air technique. He doesn't fight with gravitation as modern choreographers but uses it to fly. This is a choreography for dancers and they love it, it goes after physical ability of human body and not against it and more important, Forsythe shows us the major reason of any person who started to dance - to express their emotions. Only here Forsythe uses a reverse direction - the piece begins absolutely cold, but soon characters jump out of dancers, complexity of solo variations and contrapunct of corps de ballet force the protagonist couple simplify their movements and burst out a very primitive human feeling - a sexual desire. Sounds vulgar? Not at all, this is Ballet!

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As promised, here are some comments on Boston Ballet’s season opener. Not being a reviewer I didn’t take notes, so unfortunately my comments are not as specific as they might be, particularly about individual dancers or movements. This is more my impression of the experience.

Some context: First, I like modern ballet, and prefer it to many of the story ballets we’ve been seeing in recent years. Second, my experience of the second two pieces on the program was marred when several people moved into previously empty seats in front of us. One of these was a tall curly headed fellow who couldn’t sit still. Most of the time I lost the left quarter or third of the stage; some of the time I couldn’t see anything at all; all of the time his bobbing around was distracting to me and the people with me. But that is not the fault of the choreographers or dancers, and I look forward to going once more with better sight lines.

On to the dance:

Maelstrom. Very enjoyable, not as edgy as the next two pieces. As expected, this is Morris doing ballet vs. modern dance, and is the most accessible piece on the program. The music (Beethoven) was beautifully played (the musicians’ names were omitted from the printed program, but were announced and the trio was brought on stage for bows).

Sharp Side of the Dark. I have mixed feelings about this. Some parts I liked very much, some I didn’t like at all. It stuck me as dark literally and figuratively. I don’t like dances without music and illumination; parts of this dance were silent, parts were done with very little light. This could be very dramatic but it was hard to see the dancers. Other times the lighting was very harsh. The combination of lighting, costumes (gray unitards for women, gray/silver tights and jackets for men), and girder and industrial steel plate set, resulted in a post-apocalypse or maybe outer-space colony feeling. The music was beautiful. The dancers’ interactions, or in some cases lack of interactions, with each other could be quite moving. I really need to see this piece again to decide if it is something I’d like to see many times. At present I suspect not. One of the people I was with hated it (pointless capering) and others thought it was wonderful.

In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. In my view, this had some interesting similarities to Sharp Side. Spare costumes, spare set, dim dramatic lighting (but consistent and sufficient to see the dancers clearly.) The big difference is that In the Middle works. The electric soundtrack is not something I would choose to listen to, but it worked for the dance. I felt the dancers were being driven by the sound, I kept thinking of The Red Shoes and the compulsion to dance. The dancers were wonderful in their movements and interactions, and I felt the result was very compelling. I look forward to seeing this again.

Usually I have to enjoy the music to enjoy the dance, but the second two pieces disproved this. The Bach for Sharp side was beautifully played; Thom Willems’ electronic soundtrack for In the Middle was generally harsh. I feel I’m learning something about choreography watching and comparing these two pieces, and that the evening was well worthwhile. I'm glad I'll have another chance to see these three pieces.

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I attended the first Saturday matinee of this season opener.

My impressions, which are those of a non-dancer/newcomer to ballet viewing --

Morris was fine, the World Premiere mostly didn't work for me, and "In the Middle" was fantastic.

One thing interesting to compare among the three dances was the use of walking entries. Morris' were very "balletic" and graceful. In the World Premiere, the entrances were quite "pedestrian," and, coupled with the space age costumes, made one feel as if it might be an opening scene from Star Trek. The dancers in Middle entered with "attitude", which contributed to the overall sense and mood of the piece.

I did not like the dancing without music in the World Premiere, as it resulted in dance without context. Perhaps musicless dancing would work with a piece based on atonal or electronic music, but I don't think it works with Bach.

The World Premiere included some dance vocabulary that didn't make sense to me, such as touching heads and frog-like squatting. There was also a sequence where the dancers raised a platform on its side, and the female danced behind it as a kind of screen. Dancing behind a screen worked in "Madame Butterfly," but here you just felt like you couldn't see what she was doing.

I didn't expect to like "In the Middle," in part because of the electronic score (which was indeed quite repetitive). I loved it though. The energy of the dancers, the use of classical technique, combined with gestures to create Attitude -- it was great.

I read somewhere that "In the Middle" provides for the dancers to improvise some movements, and I'd love to know what was improvised in the performance I saw -- perhaps the movement of tying pointe shoe ribbons, or the mimed measuring of string?

Finally, the performances I saw included dancers from Boston Ballet II, so the new Artistic Director seems to be encouraging those coming up the ranks.

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In the Middle really churns up quite a frenzy.

It doesn't surprise (or distress) me that so many people liked it best. Of contributions to the repertory after the death of Balanchine, I'd have to say that it is probably the most durable work (although I preferred a piece that seems to have been dropped from repertory - Behind the China Dogs.)

Besides undeniable craft, one reason I think In the Middle looks good is that dancers love dancing Forsythe. In a way that Balanchine had some link to vernacular and social dance of his era (look at a film of dancers from 1960 doing Agon. You can see it.) the vocabulary of the discotheque in Forsythe resonates with the dancers. Good, bad, or indifferent, they can link it to something they know viscerally.

I'd be interested to hear from Andrei and Fendrock after they've seen a few more Forsythe works. For me, that was the one problem. The more I saw of them, the less I saw in them. There was too little variety in emotional landscape.

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I feel like a traitor admitting this, but I didn't like any of them.

The dancers looked very taut (I mean that in a good way--they appeared in shape and well rehearsed) and the choreography probably was an exhilerating way to start the season for the dancers, but the program didn't sing for me. However I admire what Mikko is trying to do--it's the right direction even though this one didn't work for me.

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I went to see the program again because I wanted to see alternate casts and I think the sucess of the program depended on whom was dancing.I thought Sarah Lamb danced "In the Middle "very well,and then I saw Romi Beppu,(a corps de ballet member, who just went for it.)She seemed to really be enjoying strutting her stuff and I think that is what the ballet is all about.I still enjoyed Alexander witter and April Ball more than their counterparts ,but he alternate casts still did an admirable job.The second piece I enjoyed less than the first time.I think a program like this can be tricky.We are used to seeing the same thing here and it was a bold move to make such a change.I was disappointed my second time around to see how empty the audience was.Opening night was full,but I imagine all sorts of people were there.Oh well,I am sure Eugine Onegin well fare better for the public and the dancers because they all know it....

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