For me, attending Boston Ballet’s performances is not only about admiring one of the leading and oldest American ballet companies, but also about spending time with my loved ones. I carefully “plan” my Boston Ballet season by choosing which family member I will invite on which ballet outing with me. I shared Romeo & Juliet with my son in March (on his college spring break) and tried to de-code Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear with my husband early in the season.
End of Boston Ballet’s season this year is busy with two alternating productions at the Opera House to claim our weekends and celebrate the company’s versatility. Classic Balanchine opened last week (May 17- June 9, 2018) and Le Sylphide is on stage May 25th-June 10. Which means (among many other things) that you could have several dates at the ballet with your favorite people.
Date Night One: Classic Balanchine (May 17- June 9, 2018)
I took my husband to see Classic Balanchine with me last week because I appreciate his view on modern choreography. Not that you would need help interpreting the works of Balanchine – the most “classical” of all contemporary choreographers. The 3-ballet program highlighting Balanchine’s long and prolific career starts with a story ballet Prodigal Son (first performed in 1929, score by S. Prokofiev); followed by Stravinsky Violin Concerto (revised choreography from 1972) and concludes with the festive Chaconne (premiered in 1976, score by von Gluck).
My husband’s favorite of the three programs was Prodigal Son. It was both seductive, and funny, and above all showed superb technical mastery and ahtleticism (with elements from circus and gymnastics) by principals Lia Cirio and Derek Dunn.
I was impressed that my date was able to pick on the “dissonances” (also referred to as “asymmetry” by the Globe dance critic) of the Stravinsky Violin Concerto’s cleverly intertwined into the contrasting lines of the choreography – most notably, the two famous pas de deux .
My favorite piece of the evening was Chaconne – with its airy and lyrical movements and ballerinas’ flowing hair. I also could not help but admire Misa Kuranaga’s glides across the stage. Our other favorite performers of the night were Marina Baranova in Concerto and Lia Cirio and Derek Dunn in the Prodigal Son.
Interesting Fact 1. Balanchine (1904–1983) was born in Russia; among his many influences on American dance (he created more than 400 works!) is his critical role in the founding of Boston Ballet (in 1963).
Interesting Fact 2. A chaconne is a dance built on a short phrase in the bass that was often used by composers of the 17th and 18th centuries to end an opera in a festive mood.
Date Night Two: La Sylphide (May 25th-June 10)
Inspired by the successful (despite it being mid-week) evening with my husband at the Classic Balanchine, I took my 8-year old daughter to see La Sylphide with me. It is a two-part program of the works of the 19th century Danish dancer and choreographer August Bournonville– rarely performed divertissements and 2-act ballet La Sylphide in the second part.
My daughter found the folk dances of the divertissements quite entertaining: Jockey Dance (from Siberia to Moscow), Tarantella from Napoli, Flower Festival in Genzano- are inspired by Bournonville’s many travels and are based on refreshing (“free-footed”) technique.
The title ballet La Sylphide, however, was a bit difficult for an 8-year old to follow. It did not help that she got scared by the “shenanigans” of the village sorceress Madge. (This is Madge, you might get scared too!)
Set in the Scottish Highlands, La Sylphide is one is of the world’s oldest ballets (first performed in 1836 by the Royal Danish Ballet, current production uses additional choreography by a former Royal Danish Ballet dancer Sorella Englund). It is a story of a young Scotsman being overtaken by the elusive sylph on his wedding day. The Globe called it “one of the most psychologically complex” ballets. With its endlessly dreamy movements and philosophical undertones, La Sylphide would be more appropriate to share with your ballet-appreciating girlfriend or perhaps your Mom.
Misa Kuranaga weightlessly leaping through the stage (in the leading role of the Sylph on the opening night) is the reason alone to see it.
Fun Fact 3: August Bournonville (1805–1879) was a dancer and choreographer who directed the Royal Danish Ballet for nearly 50 years and established the Danish style based on bravura dancing and expressive mime.
All performances of Classic Balanchine and La Sylphide will take place at the Boston Opera House.
La Sylphide (approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes long with two intermissions)
Saturday, May 26, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Friday, Jun 1, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, Jun 2, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, Jun 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Thursday, Jun 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, Jun 9, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, Jun 10, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Classic Balanchine (approximately 2 hours long with two intermissions)
Saturday, May 26 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 27 at 1:30 pm
Thursday, May 31 at 7:30 pm
Friday, June 8 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 9 at 1:30 pm
Tickets start at $35. For more information, visit bostonballet.org or call 617-695-6955.
As always, we thank Boston Ballet for inviting us to the performances to share our experience. All opinions are own own.