Theater Review | Boston Ballet showcases five new dances
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 02:10
Fresh from the successful “Night of Stars” event which took place Sept. 21 on the Boston Common, the Boston Ballet returned to an indoor stage last Thursday and Friday with “BB@Home.” This special performance celebrated the choreography of one of its own dancers in a smaller venue designed to seat just 150. “BB@home” showcased the world premiere of a piece with original choreography from Dusty Button, a Boston Ballet soloist, alongside excerpts from other ballets.
Similar in structure to “Night of Stars,” “BB@home” consisted of five vignettes, or mini-dances, borrowed from a broad range of works. Some of the dances were traditional, while others were more contemporary, pushing conventional ballet boundaries. However, despite the apparent stylistic differences, creative director Mikko Nissinen explained before the start of “BB@home” that the dances were unified by the evening’s informal theme of choreography.
Specifically selected for their interesting or unorthodox use of choreography, some dances were more engaging than others. The world premiere of “Swan,” for instance, walked the line between avant-garde and awkward. Viktor Plotnikov’s choreography in this number was clearly intended to mimic the movements of actual swans — complete with birdlike head-bobbing and wing flutters. Though partner dancers AnaChalendard and Alejandro Virelles expertly executed the dance’s peculiar sequences, “Swan” was ultimately too avian for audiences to fully appreciate the dance.
The most disappointing part of the evening was a pas de deux taken from the third act of the Boston Ballet’s upcoming production of “La Bayad籥.” Despite the hype surrounding “La Bayad籥” — the company’s next full ballet, opening on Oct. 24 — the preview fell just short of expectations. Nothing about the dance was truly deficient, but the expected partner work, traditional white tutus and tiara-like jewels seemed out of place next to the less predictable pieces that dominated the evening. The vignette simply felt like an ill-timed advertisement for the upcoming season. This inconsistency, as well as a slight stiffness in dancer Lia Cirio’s performance, made “La Bayad籥” conspicuously difficult to watch.
In contrast, the excerpt from “Close to Chuck” was absolutely exquisite. Three couples shared the stage, delivering an exceptionally evocative performance even though their movements were occasionally out of sync. Simplistic costumes that consisted of plain black leotards for women and dark tinted tights for men added to the expressive feel of the piece. Like “La Bayad籥,” “Close to Chuck,” is also part of Boston Ballet’s 2013-2014 season, set to run from Feb. 20 to March 2.
The true highlight and most anticipated work of the night, Dusty Button’s “Timeless” ensemble piece, required nine dancers and a more elaborate set than the previous works. Perhaps the most noticeable change was a chandelier, which cast a warm yellow glow on the stage, creating an intimate atmosphere. Careful lighting helped ease the transition from solo performances to group work, while soundtrack selections (including “On the Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter and “Brotsjor” by Olafur Arnalds) brought a dark tone to the dreamy “Timeless.” Button also designed costumes for the piece; loose-fitting lace dresses for female dancers and shorts worn by their male counterparts lent a romantic air to the performance.
The choreography itself was striking in its imagery and unrestricted in its expression. Though the sheer number of dancers sometimes made it impossible to observe all the action on stage at once, certain choreography was repeated enough to become eye-catching. In the first minutes of the dance, for example, the dancers’ movements were perfectly coordinated with music that sounded like the beats of a ticking clock — perhaps a play on the meaning of the title, “Timeless.” Another unforgettable visual motif involved dancers being lifted into the arms of their partners. The dancers remained motionless — as if sleeping — while their partners carried them forward, leaving audiences with the impression of a child being brought to bed. The pervasive feeling of peaceful drowsiness that characterized “Timeless,” made it an excellent finale for the evening.
This production of “BB@home” was the first in a series of three that Boston Ballet puts on throughout its season, each highlighting the original choreography of one of its dancers. Though much more informal than a full-length ballet, these exhibitions are a wonderful and innovative way to celebrate new creative work and are well worth a venture into the city. The next “BB@home” performances will occur on Jan. 30 and 31 and will feature the work of Boston Ballet principal dancer Jeffery Cirio. Tickets for all upcoming Boston Ballet productions of the 2013-2014 season are available for purchase online at www.bostonballet.org/tickets-and-performances or by emailing email@example.com.