Well, even though I didn’t go door-to-door with a plastic pumpkin to be filled with candy I did score my very own Halloween treat this year!
I was actually Googling the term “Halloween ballet” to see if I could find something cute to put into a blog post I was publishing that day and what I found instead was a blurb from boston.com mentioning that Boston Ballet was running a one-day special on Halloween: tickets to their Fall Program that normally ranged from $55-$104 could be purchased for $31 instead!
Did I jump all over that deal?
You bet I did!
My fellow Tea soloist and I hit the town together to see three contemporary works: Rooster, Awake Only, and The Second Detail.
Rooster is choreographed by Christopher Bruce and set to music by the Rolling Stones. Yeah, the Rolling Stones! I’ve always loved the idea of choreographing ballet to rock music, just for the entertaining juxtaposition, and this one did not disappoint. As each of the 8 pieces went by I said to myself, “This one is my favorite. No wait, this one is my favorite, no now this one!” They each had their own storyline, though the final one — Sympathy for the Devil — managed to tie them all in together by bringing back elements of the 7 previous dances.
I didn’t really feel that this one was a great representation of ballet, per se. It was very contemporary, a little jazzy. Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily. I love seeing a breadth of abilities in a ballet company and this showcased their ability to let their hair down (literally, as well as figuratively) and was terribly good fun. But it didn’t quite stoke my balletic sensibilities. Then again, I think there’s a lot to be said for the phrase, “Rethink ballet,” so if this engages people who may otherwise think ballet is boring, well, we certainly can’t complain about that. I loved it for what it was, and the dancers were terrific. I found some YouTube clips of the piece, so I’ll post the first segment — Little Red Rooster — to give you an idea. Not sure which ballet company is performing in this clip; the poster didn’t say.
Next up was a new piece by Jorma Elo, Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer, entitled Awake Only. This was the first Elo piece I’ve seen, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. There was a vague storyline to this, as the program notes state it was meant to follow “the arc of a man’s life.” There was an adorable young boy from the Boston Ballet School who I presume was meant to represent a younger version of the central character played by Jeffrey Cirio. It was hard to tell from my seat how old the child was, but I would guess he was under 8 years old. While his piece was not so much dancing as acting, I gave him tremendous props for his poise on stage. The audience adored him.
There was a couple that danced alongside the central character that I assume were meant to represent the parents? Another woman who I guess was the love interest and a corps of 6 women whose role I couldn’t even hazard to guess. The woman playing the “mother” (at least that’s what she was playing in my mind!) incidentally is Cirio’s real-life sister. Weird. And she was the only woman not en pointe. I assume there was some sort of symbolism meant by that? Not sure what it was, though.
It was set to live piano and organ music by JS Bach. I must say it got to feel quite long, though. I felt like a dolt throughout much of it because I felt like I wasn’t getting the point (and I hate that pedestrian feeling of not being cultured enough to appreciate fine art!). Maybe if I saw it again I’d feel differently. All in all some very tender and beautiful scenes, but unfortunately my least favorite of the evening.
Up last was The Second Detail by William Forsythe. This one was by and large my absolute favorite… not only the dancing, but the music, the costuming, the set. This is (in my mind, anyway) contemporary ballet at its finest. Apparently the Boston Globe reviewer found this piece to be too long. Horsefeathers. I wanted more. Not only did I want more, I wanted to watch what I saw again and again and again. There was just so much going on on stage that I felt like I needed to watch it 10 times at least to see everything there was to see. I suppose some might find that distracting, but I found it thrilling.
Plus I just marvelled at the ability of a choreographer to come up with this sort of a piece where there are so many things happening at once and then each dancer learning his or her part which may, at times, coincide with some of the other dancers, but then they veer off into another group or into an individual part. This left me wanting to see more Forsythe… and more Boston Ballet, for that matter!
I found this clip on YouTube of Boston Ballet rehearsing this piece when they were getting ready to perform it in the spring of 2011. Here you go:
I think I can safely say I got my $31 worth. Oh, and when I was leafing through my program I noticed that there were offers to come back and see the Fall Program again for $25 and offers to put the full value of your ticket towards a subscription. While I know this is Boston Ballet-specific, I’d recommend, wherever you are, if you’re close to a professional ballet company, check out the deals they may have. There are some great offers and you get to support dance culture in your area!
Until next time… happy dancing!