Boston Ballet presented its first mixed repertory program* of this season. “Kaleidoscope,”* featured four works by the most influential choreographers of the 20th century.
The four works performed were “Kammermusik No.2,” “Pas de Quatre,” “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” and “Gaîté Parisienne.” Each one was distinct yet they worked cohesively as a repertoire, representing a diverse range of choreography.
Juxtaposing the performances presented an interesting comparison between the different emotions evoked by each unique choreography, music, costume design, set and light design. The audience conveyed various responses, from admiration to amusement.
However, there were recurring physical demands challenging the dancers to sustain immaculate coordination, energy and finesse.
The powerful and vigorous “Kammermusik No.2,” choreographed by George Balanchine, required dancers to confidently execute the choreography with precision and speed whilst paying attention to rhythm and timing. The athleticism of the dancers supported them with the stamina to maintain the exceptional quality of moves throughout the routine.
The demands of the choreography seemed to have taken a toll on Lasha Khozashvili, who took an unfortunate stumble in the midst of a fast-paced routine. He acknowledged his slip-up by flashing a smile at the audience before quickly recovering both professionally and gracefully.
One can only imagine the intensity of the training that the dancers went through to accomplish such a physically demanding routine to an extent where there wasn’t a single dull moment.
The male ensemble kept to the time of the orchestra whilst the leading soloists danced to the astonishingly rapid piano line. Balanchine’s choreography was intended to “reflect the jagged, disjointed lines of Paul Hindemith’s neoclassical score,” according to the Boston Ballet.
The music sounded irregular and almost compulsive, but this didn’t deter the dancers from performing remarkably. They certainly deserved the roaring applause that erupted from the audience.
The music slowed down for Leonid Yakobson “Pas de Quatre,” a tribute to romanticism dedicated to the late 19th-century choreographer Jules Perrot.
The four ballerinas performed the majority of the routine with conjoined hands and linked arms, impressively able to embody elegance without literally becoming a human knot.
Yakobson’s choreography was created during a time of competition between ballerinas but the connection between the ballerinas reflected a sense of mutual harmony between them. The solo routines that followed demonstrated particular talents each ballerina possessed exclusively.
The bourrées* and attitudes* complemented with the romantic melodies of Vincenzo Bellini’s opera “Norma” produced a blissfully light-hearted performance that was no less than magical. The experience was made all the more enchanting when a faint glow, although it was barely visible, radiated from the ballerinas from the reflection of light on their pearl colored costumes.
The intricate details in the framework of the choreography made the “Pas de Quatre” a delight to watch and it allowed one to appreciate the amount of coordination the ballerinas encompassed.
The third performance featured William Forsythe’s “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude.” The name of the choreography informs the audience exactly what to expect, a whirling performance of dizzying turns and spins that required extreme precision.
Additionally, having performed the physically ambitious “Kammermusik No.2” earlier in the night, Principal Dancer Paulo Arrais notably danced equally fantastically in “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude.”
The vibrant indigo and limerick costumes appeared almost extraterrestrial with its unconventional colors and innovative leotards with a platter tutu.* Designed by Stephen Galloway, the costumes contributed to heightening the level of energy displayed by the dancers.
The program’s closing performance, “Gaîté Parisienne” choreographed by Léonide Massine, was the most grand and opulent one of the night. Set in a Parisian cafe, it was characteristic of Moulin Rouge and Paris in the early 1900s.
“Massine often drew inspiration from and collaborated with artists, including surrealist painter Salvador Dali,” according to the Boston Ballet.
His choreography is not one you would typically expect to see at the ballet but the audience loved it. From the vivacious can-can* to the fight for the Glove Seller’s attention, the characters were memorable and the story was compelling.
The performance was enhanced by costumes designed by renowned fashion designer Christian Lacroix. The variety of costumes was extensive: ranging from oversized bows, bright pink leggings, vibrant striped skirts and polka dotted blouses with puffy sleeves.
As the characters entered the extravagant café one after the other, the stunning Glove Seller captivated everyone’s attention. It seemed she was the one they desired as the male characters engaged her in casual flirtation. The Baron, the Duke, the Officer and the Peruvian took turns in whisking her away from each other.
Wherever you looked on stage, there was always a character or an interaction between characters that revealed details about the story and the characters’ identities.
A memorable character was the Peruvian, whose determination was admirable but it was his clumsiness that was whimsical and entertaining, causing waves of laughter to ripple throughout the audience.
The four men struggled for the Glove Seller’s attention and eventually, what started as harmless competition escalated into a fight, creating a chaotic atmosphere on stage. Afterward, it seemed the Baron had won her affection as the pair danced in a dreamy waltz to the score by Jacques Offenbach.
They are seen in a passionate embrace on top of the stairs when the Peruvian enters and sees them. The audience expressed pity for the Peruvian whose spirits were crushed at the sight of the couple. Incapable of containing his emotions, the Peruvian looked as if he was about to collapse when the curtain dropped.
“Kaleidoscope” is a program that will guarantee a night filled with excitement, energy and emotion.
Boston Ballet’s “Kaleidoscope” runs from March 17-26 at the Boston Opera House. Tickets start at $35. Student rush tickets can be purchased at the box office two hours prior to the performance at $25 (cash only).
Kaleidoscope: a toy containing mirrors and pieces of colored glass or paper whose reflections produce constantly changing patterns or a sequence of objects
Mixed repertory program: a select number of choreography from a specific repertoire, usually performed in short intervals.
Attitude: the extended leg raised behind the body with the front knee bent at an angle of 90 degrees
Bourrée: Quick and even movements, often en pointe, mimicking the appearance of gliding across the stage.
Platter tutu: this classic tutu is has a flat and wide skirt that is hooped and tightly tacked – the method used to shape and control the classical tutu skirt ruffles.
Can-can: A high-energy dance popular in the french cabaret characterized by splits and high kicks with the skirt held up.