|| Plays to See
|| July 5, 2013
|| Pauline Flannery
Boston Ballet's Programme 1 is sublime. Opening with Balanchine's Serenade and Tchaikovsky's ravishing score - 'his favorite child' - sensuality and grace is its hall mark. Gestures, trajectories form, dispel across a translucent stage, while diaphanous costumes catch the light. Balanchine's choreography compresses the classics with iconic steps and Apollonian triptychs. Geometry is re-defined, ending in a transcendent procession. Balanchine described Serenade as 'just a dance in the moonlight.' Yet in 1934, American ballet was born. Lia Cirio, Ashley Ellis and Misa Kuranaga as the central threesome, echo Apollo's muses. They are beautiful to watch, but it's the precision of the ensemble which makes this opening, dazzling display, diamond cut.
Afternoon of a Faun, 1912, was dancer Nijinsky's first choreographic work with Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. Complete with Leon Bakst set and costume designs and danced to Debussy's languorous score, Altan Dugaraa's faun is mesmerising. The setting, a woodland glade, sees him caper and chase nymphs, led by Lorna Feuoo. Poses suggest images from Greek Vases. They also recall silent movies. The ballet, radical in its time, with its bare feet and unambiguous ending, still provides an erotic charge.
Resident choreographer Jormo Elo's Plan to B is worth five stars alone. 'Physical, organic and slightly wild' it is marked by sharp, liquid movements as six dancers move through space with lightning speed. Elo's choreography is subverted in the act of creation. It is a thrilling roller-coaster ride, and was inspired by Elo's anxiety as he made the transition from dancer to choreographer. Lia Cirio, Whitney Jensen, Bo Busby, Jeffrey Cirio, John Lam and Sabi Varga are superlative; while a rectangular, upstage power-source seems to give them strength and inspiration. The fast pace is matched by Heirnrich Ignaz Franz von Biber scintillating, Baroque score.
The programme ends with Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements and Stravinsky's expansive score, with its sounds of America, jazz and the city. The colour scheme is mainly white on black as the diagonals, dissolves and quick-silver movements bring the evening full circle. It's thirty years since the Boston Ballet last appeared in London. The creative thinking, under the directorship of Mikko Nissenen, brings together ground-breaking visionaries, Elo being the latest exponent; the music of Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Biber and Stravinsky, played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and dancing which offers technical brilliance and sensual lyricism. Quite simply sublime.