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 definitely on supply right here. But, most intriguing to me was a practice of music and motion coming collectively by way of previous and current.

From classical music and Balanchine, to extra fashionable music and up to date ballet, to Rolling Stones hits and social dance-inflected ballet, this system demonstrated simply what number of methods we are able to convey collectively music and motion (and to not point out supportive design components) to create one thing finally transcendent. Now we have, we do, and we’ll; that beat goes on. Defying expectations alongside the best way – 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 carrying child blue, shifting by way of easeful classical vocabulary. That vocabulary was fast and dynamic, but extra customary 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 definitely 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 area created the clear strains and shapes that deepened the sensation of concord at hand. Formations had been fantastically clear, dancers hitting simply the proper marks – bringing to life Balanchine’s imaginative and prescient of a exact, intentional stage image. 

Chisako Oga, carrying pink to tell apart her as a soloist, supplied quiet grace even with a lot energy and technical command. Additionally totally pleasant was an all-ballerino part. On the one hand, I 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 are able to make area for all of it. 

Proper according to that ethos of openness and multiplicity, the next piece – Helen Pickett’s 月夜 Tsukiyo introduced fairly a unique ambiance. 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 behind a dimly-lit stage was a big round mild, 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 mild 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, regularly discovering her footing. 

Her companion, 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 1 full of extra hope and luster. 

What Fentroy’s persona may 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 broad area, the motion and notes fluidly shifting by way of her. Fentroy adeptly used her size and easy articulation by way of joints to fulfill the broad palette of musical dynamics inside these notes. 

Together with her companion’s help, she then had each: the steadiness of grounding and the spaciousness of mobility. Her prospects had expanded in consequence. She melted into him by way of partnering, exhaling to totally soften, but at different factors lifted and supported herself for intriguing – and plain beautiful – shapes. Generally folks in our lives assist us to develop with out shedding what’s already greatest about us – and people are the individuals who we do nicely to maintain round, as greatest we are able to. 

It wasn’t all roses and rainbows, nonetheless; 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, nonetheless, she danced with eachstability and fluid openness. 

Lights went down on her having discovered that – definitely a unique place than she had been at first of the piece. Regardless of the piece may need supplied – maybe completely different to the senses, hearts, and minds of varied viewers members – it resonated; they acquired proper to their ft 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 outdoors 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 function within the filmed model) – but what he did convey 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 once I watched it alone at residence. However, for me the close-ups doable by way of movie additionally allowed the personas of the characters to translate higher. 

Movie additionally allowed the vitality of a small forged to higher fill the visible image at hand (however the total funding and vibrancy that the 2022 ensemble dropped at their characters). But, I might think about the broad open areas on the stage area just like the countless 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 degree, 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 barely par for the course. 

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

A big upstage set piece lit the dancers (lighting design by Brandon Stirling Baker) – altering with every part to not solely completely different colours, but additionally shapes (similar to circles, reminiscing information). Silhouettes, other than 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 enrich the dancers’ shapes and features.

The motion definitely 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 supply probabilities for additional characterization by way of how dancers in pas de deux interacted – like pals, or pals who simply met, do interact in such settings. 

Non-unison sections mirrored individuality, and group sections group – each vital components of being joined collectively in a celebration of excellent music, good folks, and a great 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 ambiance, being set to a ballad (“Wild Horses”). A part of me wished extra sections like that within the work, but which may have introduced its general vitality 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 each wanting ahead into the long run and listening to from the previous, it definitely can. The center of music and motion – the sheer pleasure of making and sharing artwork – it’ll 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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