|| Boston Globe
|| September 21, 2009
|| Karen Campbell
From the opening fanfare to the closing processional “Défilé,’’ Boston Ballet’s “Night of Stars’’ was a rousing celebration of the company’s official move to its new home, the Boston Opera House. It was especially fitting to open Saturday night’s gala fund-raiser with an orchestra-only fanfare, given the newly renovated pit created for the company’s first-rate orchestra, led by Jonathan McPhee. After the fanfare, the sold-out house was treated to a diverse program studded with one gem after another.
Repertoire ranged from expected classics, such as the Act II pas de deux from “Giselle,’’ a teaser for the company’s next big production, to a brand new work choreographed and performed by two of the company’s newly promoted principal dancers. Melissa Hough and James Whiteside gave a superb performance of their “Zero Hour,’’ an agitated, modernistic duet juxtaposing sharp angles and long lines with undulating curves that ripple through the body. The work reflects Boston Ballet’s admirable mission to foster new choreography as well as create new opportunities for its dancers.
Another first act highlight introduced three of Boston Ballet’s newest members representing the company’s next generation. Former BBII dancer Jeffrey Cirio, Whitney Jensen, and Isaac Akiba (the first Citydance graduate to join the company) sailed through brilliant leaps and turns in excerpts from Drigo’s virtuosic showpiece “Harlequinade.’’ Performing with pizzazz, technical polish, and charming joie de vivre, they are definitely three to watch.
Altan Dugaraa and Lorna Feijoo led a terrific performance of Nijinsky’s landmark “Afternoon of a Faun,’’ with gorgeous scenery and costumes by Leon Bakst, and featuring a luminous flute solo by Kathleen O’Donnell. This was a rare opportunity to see one of the most revolutionary masterpieces in dance history, with its erotically charged movement and stylized, two-dimensional perspective. Though the full company looked a bit loose in Jirí Kylián’s “Petite Mort,’’ the series of duets in this stark, striking work were spectacular, foreshadowing the piece’s reprise next May. Royal Ballet guest artists Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg gave a lyrical, romantic sweep to the Act III pas de deux from “Coppélia,’’ Cojocaru dancing with gorgeous extension and balance and Kobborg vaulting through buoyant leaps and turns.
The evening’s largest work, the busy, propulsive finale of Helen Pickett’s “Eventide,’’ was splashy but looked under-rehearsed. (The company premieres a new Pickett commission next month.) And there were some odd inclusions: a solo from “The Little Humpbacked Horse’’ and the famous “Rose Adagio’’ from “The Sleeping Beauty,’’ which looks pallid and contrived out of context. Overall, however, the evening not only provided a sneak peek at what’s to come but a fabulous opportunity to experience Boston Ballet’s rather remarkable depth and range.