|| Boston Herald
|| April 27, 2011
|| Jonathan Donaldson
A feeling of ecstatic discovery runs through Bella Figura, a program of contemporary works from three choreographers who are favorites of Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, opening Thursday at the Opera House.
From contemplative Persian tropes to bare-breasted female dancers, this lineup bucks hard against the sterility of the holiday classics that many associate with the storied company.
Nissinen takes special pride in being able to bring Boston audiences both popular works such as “The Nutcracker” and “Giselle” as well as innovative works from contemporary ballet’s best choreographers.
“I love that ‘new love’ feeling,” Nissinen said from his office, “that ‘Eureka’ moment when I find out something that I didn’t know.”
Starting off with William Forsythe’s explosive “The Second Detail,” the evening moves starkly into Helen Pickett’s world premiere “Part I, II and III,” before concluding with Jiri Kylian’s sensually intoxicating “Bella Figura.” All three choreographers use dance to communicate a unique outlook on the essence of human beauty.
“I’m more interested in how someone touches someone else’s face in 2011, not in old-fashioned ballet pantomime,” Pickett said by phone from New York. Her “Part I, II and III” deploys the music of minimalist-composer Arvo Part, in whose melodies she hears great space and stillness. Audiences will be especially drawn to Part I, which tells an age-old Persian story of love and madness, “Layli O Majnun.”
Whereas Pickett’s ballet relies on emotion, Forsythe relies on energy to communicate human beauty in “The Second Detail.” Fourteen dancers will dazzle and delight with technical prowess in what Nissinen refers to as a “quadruple espresso” for the eyes. As promising as the works of Forsythe and Pickett (who has worked under Forsythe) sound, audiences will be most curious to see the spectacle of the grand finale, Kylian’s “Bella Figura.”
“Seeing Jiri Kylian’s ‘Bella Figura’ was one of the most spectacular theater experiences I have ever had,” Nissinen said. “From that time forward, I have always wanted to bring this work to Boston.”
Nissinen feels the work’s partial nudity is absolutely essential to a piece he calls “ridiculously beautiful.”