Boston Ballet’s ‘My Obsession’ – Dance Informa Journal


Boston Opera Home, Boston, MA. 
October 9, 2022.

I had Sonny and Cher “The Beat Goes On” in my head after having fun with Boston Ballet’s My Obsession – the corporate’s 2022-2023 season opener. This system was framed as presenting tales “that discover our obsessions, devotions and idols” – themes actually on provide right here. But, most intriguing to me was a convention of music and motion coming collectively by way of previous and current.

From classical music and Balanchine, to extra trendy music and modern ballet, to Rolling Stones hits and social dance-inflected ballet, this system demonstrated simply what number of methods we will deliver collectively music and motion (and to not point out supportive design components) to create one thing in the end transcendent. Now we have, we do, and we’ll; that beat goes on. Defying expectations alongside the way in which – as this program additionally did in spades – can solely propel artistic innovation and make it all of the extra impactful. 

This system opened with George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante (1956), a vibrant and joyful piece on the classical finish of the Balanchine canon. The curtain rose on heat lights and dancers sporting child blue, transferring by way of easeful classical vocabulary. That vocabulary was fast and dynamic, but extra normal classical and fewer signature Balanchine in gesture and pathways (relative to lots of his ballets). 

But, the work did exhibit Balanchine’s typical affinity for musicality, which the ensemble actually delivered right here. They spanned the stage and executed myriad little jumps and zippy turns – assembly the sturdy Tchaivoksky rating with effervescence and delight. Lunges and circles throughout the house created the clear strains and shapes that deepened the sensation of concord at hand. Formations had been superbly clear, dancers hitting simply the precise marks – bringing to life Balanchine’s imaginative and prescient of a exact, intentional stage image. 

Chisako Oga, sporting pink to tell apart her as a soloist, supplied quiet grace even with a lot energy and technical command. Additionally completely fulfilling was an all-ballerino part. On the one hand, I really like how 21st century ballet is – little by little – breaking down the partitions of strict gender conventions inside the kind. On the opposite, it’s a real deal with to expertise a gaggle of virtuosic males execute feats of athletic energy. In a post-postmodern context, something goes; we will make house for all of it. 

Proper in step with that ethos of openness and multiplicity, the next piece – Helen Pickett’s 月夜 Tsukiyo introduced fairly a distinct environment. Pensive, mysterious and at occasions even foreboding, the work thoughtfully investigated the tensions and magnetism between two folks – all by way of physicality and musicality. Design additionally translated a lot; shining at the back of a dimly-lit stage was a big round gentle, like an summary moon rising proper above the horizon (surroundings design by Mikko Nissinen and Benjamin J. Phillips). 

All through the piece, that large moon’s gentle allowed for the motion to create entrancing shadows throughout the stage (authentic lighting design by John Cuff). Smoke blanketing the stage deepened the thriller that the shadows created. Earlier than that moon was a big chair, the place soloist Chyrstyn Fentroy sat because the lights and curtain rose. She stepped down, slowly and cautiously – with a pinch of Bambi legs, steadily discovering her footing. 

Her accomplice, Paul Craig, quickly joined her, and – because the piece progressed – helped her to seek out extra stability and energy. As they joined and have become more and more attuned to one another, the rating (“Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt) shifted from mysterious and (arguably) ominous to at least one stuffed with extra hope and luster. 

What Fentroy’s persona might need lacked in energy and stability, she had in spades when it got here to fluidity and mobility; her backbone rippled and limbs reached out to span large house, the motion and notes fluidly transferring by way of her. Fentroy adeptly used her size and clean articulation by way of joints to fulfill the large palette of musical dynamics inside these notes. 

Along with her accomplice’s assist, she then had each: the steadiness of grounding and the spaciousness of mobility. Her potentialities had expanded consequently. She melted into him by way of partnering, exhaling to completely soften, but at different factors lifted and supported herself for intriguing – and plain pretty – shapes. Generally folks in our lives assist us to develop with out dropping what’s already greatest about us – and people are the individuals who we do nicely to maintain round, as greatest we will. 

It wasn’t all roses and rainbows, nevertheless; there have been tense moments of seemingly diverging wills between the pair. But, collectively, they discovered the pathways by way of the physique that led them to concord. The ending spoke to one thing lasting about what that they had discovered. Craig had, at occasions all through the piece, damaged Fentroy’s fall and helped her to face tall (to not point out fly excessive with lifts). As he walked slowly away from her, nevertheless, she danced with eachstability and fluid openness. 

Lights went down on her having discovered that – actually a distinct place than she had been firstly of the piece. Regardless of the piece might need supplied – maybe totally different to the senses, hearts, and minds of assorted viewers members – it resonated; they acquired proper to their toes for a standing ovation. In some kind of method, the precise had spoken to the common. 

Balanchine’s Apollo (1928) got here subsequent, one other well-known work of his however exterior of Balanchine’s arguably most well-known neoclassical ballets (the “black and white ballets”). I loved this work by way of a digital Boston Ballet program within the fall of 2021, and was to note variations between that and the stay expertise. In 2022, Patrick Yocum as Apollo was maybe a bit much less memorably expressive than Paulo Arrais (who danced the title position within the filmed model) – but what he did deliver was a dignified and noble bearing, supported by full technical prowess, that spoke to Apollo’s divinity. 

Moreover, different viewers members laughing helped me to note comedian moments – and people of even candy humanness – that I hadn’t picked up on after I watched it alone at house. Alternatively, for me the close-ups doable by way of movie additionally allowed the personas of the characters to translate higher. 

Movie additionally allowed the power of a small forged to raised fill the visible image at hand (however the total funding and vibrancy that the 2022 ensemble delivered to their characters). But, I may think about the large open areas on the stage house just like the infinite vistas on the peak of Greek mythology’s Mt. Olympus. 

All in all, the work is stuffed with splendidly crafted moments – cleanly geometric formations and shapes making it candy sweet for dance photographers. Regardless of compelling layers on a physique stage, there’s a minimalism to the aesthetic that retains all of it visually definitive. It was additionally yet one more ballet on this program that demonstrated how the union of music and motion can resonate by way of the many years, the centuries, and past. It being one other Balanchine work, such musicality is simply par for the course. 

Stephen Galloway’s DEVIL’s/eye (March 2022) closed out this system. Providing a real aesthetic expertise – of vivid gentle, vibrant motion, and pulsing rock music – it was a pure get together in modern ballet (and positively not what everybody thinks of after they assume “ballet”!). Galloway set the work totally to Rolling Stones hits, laying the groundwork for a 1970’s rock and roll vibe. Each side of the work helped to construct that environment, like puzzle items match collectively simply so to make a cohesive, memorable complete. 

A big upstage set piece lit the dancers (lighting design by Brandon Stirling Baker) – altering with every part to not solely totally different colours, but additionally shapes (similar to circles, reminiscing information). Silhouettes, aside from being visually fascinating, mirrored the picture of particular person caught earlier than blindingly vivid stadium lights at a rock live performance. Costumes (by Galloway) supplied the edgy cuts and colours that one would possibly discover at such a live performance, within the Nineteen Seventies particularly, whereas nonetheless stylized and polished sufficient to enhance the dancers’ shapes and features.

The motion actually had such classical strains and shapes, in spades – expansive and dynamic at that. Galloway skillfully sewed collectively that vocabulary with social dance inflections: shaking hips, shoulder rolls, gestures of compelling characterization. Lifts had been a bit extra on the classical ballet finish of the spectrum, however did provide possibilities for additional characterization by way of how dancers in pas de deux interacted – like buddies, or buddies who simply met, do interact in such settings. 

Non-unison sections mirrored individuality, and group sections neighborhood – each necessary components of being joined collectively in a celebration of excellent music, good folks, and an excellent life. Tracks from Rolling Stones live shows – full with components like Mick Jagger proclaiming to a raucous viewers and improvisational guitar riffing – solely deepened this rock live performance really feel. 

The ensemble attacked all of it with (seemingly) all doable pleasure and kinesthetic dedication, to not point out on-point musicality – making this rock live performance in dance come absolutely to life. One part did really feel extra contemplative and fewer of a celebration environment, being set to a ballad (“Wild Horses”). A part of me needed extra sections like that within the work, but which may have introduced its total power to a spot that was not aligned with Galloway’s imaginative and prescient. 

The curtain got here down on the dancers grooving out, dancing by way of their very own vocabulary (each the classical and the non-public). The beat would go on. By way of each trying ahead into the longer term and listening to from the previous, it actually can. The center of music and motion – the sheer pleasure of making and sharing artwork – it’s going to proceed. Thanks to Boston Ballet for reminding us of that with My Obsession, a memorable smorgasbord of music and motion from throughout many years and throughout far-ranging communities. The beat can attain all of them. 

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.


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