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Boston Ballet

'Ten Part Suite', 'Sarabande', 'Falling Angels' and 'In the middle, somewhat elevated'

by Azlan Ezaddin

March 20, 2005 matinee-- Wang Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts

Practice makes perfect, or nearly, as in the case of Boston Ballet’s fifth performance (third by this specific cast) of the “Falling Angels” program Sunday afternoon, that featured ballets by three legendary choreographers. William Forsythe’s “In the middle, somewhat elevated” especially was crisper and sharper than on opening night. Danced to a percussive electronic score by long-time Forsythe collaborator Thom Willems, the work requires a body language almost alien to ballet, even if it is constructed using ballet steps. Limbs turn contradictory to each other in a jarring, abrupt manner, with the body contorted in opposing directions. At high speed, the dancers look like androids on steroids; but yet during the slow sections, their contorting movement projects extreme sensuality, emphasizing the curvature of the body.

All nine dancers, six female and three male, didn’t miss a beat, at least not discernibly by most people. Rie Ichikawa and Melissa Hough took full advantage of their physical strengths in contrasting ways, the former accelerating through complex turns and the latter tightly controlling the small gestures that are so important in this work. As the “lead woman” who opens the work and through whom continuity is developed, guest dancer April Ball, formerly with Boston Ballet and now at Les Ballet de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, provided precisely the right mannerism to her dancing – she is at once graceful yet detached, creating an aura of beautiful confidence. And, as the woman with the complex feline-like movements, Kathleen Breen Combes made it look easy. Carlos Molina and Reyneris Reyes exhibited a nice masculine touch to provide the requisite tension.

The remaining issue then is possibly the volume of the music. Signs were up on various doors in the theatre advising patrons of the loud electronic music. In fact, in performances elsewhere, earplugs are offered to those with sensitive hearing. Indeed, Forysthe specifies that the music be played uncomfortably loud to further induce a jarring mood; yet, other than the opening bar that typically catches audiences off guard, the sound levels at the Wang Theatre were within comfort levels.

While “In the middle…” enjoyed a superior performance, Jiri Kylian’s “Falling Angels,” danced to percussive music by Steve Reich, still suffered from a few technical problems, all the more evident from the balcony level of the theatre. To evoke various moods with lighting and shade, the eight female dancers step into or dance along the edge of individual square panels of white light. With inaccurate positioning by the dancers, the lighting on the women was at best inconsistent, with some in bright light and others in partial darkness.

However, the ability of the dancers was never in any doubt. Romi Beppu, Karine Seneca, Tempe Ostergren, Dalay Parrondo, Kelley Potter, Brooke Reynolds, Heather Waymack and particularly Melanie Atkins displayed extraordinary stamina that saw them confidently through ritualistic foot tromping, torso convulsions and arm snapping.

The other Kylián work on the program, “Sarabande,” is a quirky composition, with six men prancing and gesticulating to their own primal sounds. With only those sounds, visual clues and the vibration of the floor to guide them, it is a joy to watch the performers execute the movements almost flawlessly. The men of Boston Ballet proved themselves capable of a work that up until now has not been set on any other company outside of Kylián’s own Nederlands Dans Theater.

The program opened with “Ten Part Suite,” a commissioned work by Lucinda Childs that received its world premiere three days earlier. This work for seven couples has to be viewed from an elevated perspective to appreciate its exhilarating geometrical patterns. Childs cleverly imbues postmodern simplicity with classical manner by setting the ballet to music by the 17th century Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli, performed admirably by the chamber trio of Jason Horowitz, Ronald Lowry and Freda Locker.

The ensemble, notably Sacha Wakelin and Misa Kuranaga, were a joy to watch, as was Heather Myers, who had a decidedly more upbeat interpretation of the lead female role than Lorna Feijoo on opening night. Pavel Gurevich was adept as her partner even if without matching artistry.

The overall talent and technical ability at Boston Ballet is quite remarkable. It is clear what drives the selection of artistic staff under Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen’s reign, with versatility being a primary focus. Nissinen’s programming stretches the classically-trained company towards the contemporary, taking audiences along for an amazing ride.


Edited by Staff.

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