|| The Patriot Ledger
|| October 27, 2012
|| Iris Fanger
The centerpiece to the opening program of the Boston Ballet’s 49th season is a world premiere, Awake Only, by choreographer, Jorma Elo. The work is set to a score of nine compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach with the music performed by two superb musicians, organist Heinrich Christensen and pianist Alex Foaksman. They play in alternating accompaniment to the evolving life patterns of the two couples on stage who lead us back in time.
Let me assure you that Elo is at the top of his game with this one. Now in his 10th year as choreographer-in-residence, and in demand throughout the ballet world, he has delivered one of his most sensitive and emotional ballets in Awake Only, minus the gimmicks of the avant-garde sets and clanging scores of the past.
The curtain opens on a self-assured, tiny child (Liam Lurker) dressed in pajamas who will lead the dancers through the piece. Jeffrey Cirio, probably the youngest of the company’s principals and a star if ever there was one, takes the boy by the hand and leads him off-stage before bursting out into a solo that establishes the central theme – a young man on a quest for self-discovery. Cirio is small in stature and tightly-wound but he can do anything – high leaps, multiple spins, daring dashes to conquer the space – while letting us know how he feels. He is soon joined by a precisely stepping Lia Ciro (his sister in real life) and her partner, the tall and lithe Sabi Varga, whom Elo adores because the movements set on his body ripple through and out the dancer’s long limbs as if to go on forever.
Jeffrey Cirio is not destined to travel alone. Kathleen Breen Combes enters for a luscious pas de deux that maps out their affair from tentative meeting to melting into each others’ bodies. Six women on pointe, Whitney Jensen and Rachel Cossar among them, shadow the two couples, but each is given a solo on her own. The ballet has no definite conclusion as the child returns to push and prod the dancers into each next section, and to watch them at the end. If the little boy is a sentimental tug to the heart-strings, he’s also a reminder that we all start at the same place, although our journeys take us on various paths.
The two other works on the program are repeats for the company: Rooster, a ballet for people who hate the ballet, by choreographer Christopher Bruce that’s set to music by the Rolling Stones, and William Forsythe’s The Second Detail, to anatonal score by Thom Willems. Bruce’s work is a predictable response to the pop music.
In The Second Detail, Forsythe takes us into a Star Wars future where the unisex, gray-clad citizens dance out their pieces and then walk off stage or to the rear to sit on stools and gaze impassibly at the action. Then comes the jolt ofthe surprise ending, a “crazy-lady” solo by Lorna Feijoo. Feijoo’s performance is a reminder of her power as a supremely talented actress as well as dancer, however I’m not sure we needed to see either of these works so soon again.
IF YOU GO . . . .
AwakeOnly The Boston Ballet, at The Boston Opera House through Nov. 4.