|| The Boston Herald
|| October 24, 2009
|| Keith Powers
When Mae West said “too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” she may as well have been referring to Boston Ballet’s “World Passions,” a startling amalgam of four ballets that opened Thursday at the Opera House.
The program showcased a quartet of short but significant works: Pino Alosa’s reworked “Paquita,” Jorma Elo’s captivating “Carmen/Illusions,” and two striking duets, Helen Pickett’s “Tsukiyo” and Viktor Plotnikov’s “Rhyme.”
The pieces offered at once a historical survey from classic to modern ballet, as well as a chance to revel in the depth and quality of director Mikko Nissinen’s company, which at least symbolically has captured the energy of moving to its new home at the revitalized Opera House and transferred it to the stage.
Alosa’s “Paquita,” a restaging of one of the oldest, continually performed ballets, features a glut of solos, pas de deux, -trois, -quatres and even -huits - far too numerous to appreciate in detail. Lorna Feijoo did keep all eyes center stage, at one point turning two dozen pirouettes with flawless grace.
A world premiere of Pickett’s “Tsukiyo,” danced by Lia Cirio and Sabi Varga, showed that Nissinen’s faith in this choreographer - this is her third commission by the company - is not misplaced. Pickett’s language is profound, fluid and intimate. Set to a minimalist sonata by Arvo Part, the dancers rarely released each other, but never seemed to cling. Liquid and unique lifts, touches and bends let the enigmatic love story unfold almost as an afterthought - it was hard not to focus solely on the movement.
Plotnikov’s “Rhyme,” set to a Chopin sonata, offered an equally enigmatic narrative, brilliantly interpreted by Heather Waymack and Altan Dugaraa.
The evening came to a rousing conclusion with Elo’s populist interpretation of “Carmen.” It was an artistic feast: a simple but edgy urban stage, with innovative lighting techniques, showing off Elo’s idiosyncratic dance language.
Risk-taking lies at the center of Elo’s world, and not all of his movement succeeds. But one thing is certain: the choreographer treats his dancers like artists, not athletes, creating stages that have an electric atmosphere. Blink at your peril - you may miss something special. Kathleen Breen Combes cleverly performs the title role, played here as a sort of unforgiving supermodel, and the company danced seamlessly to Elo’s simultaneously staccato and elegant choreography.