With everything that is going on in the world right now, I did not think I was in the mood for a ballet. But in the press release for new contemporary program, DREAMstate, Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen promised the “feast for eyes, ears and soul”. So taking my husband with me I decided to escape the reality for the night.
DREAMstate is an evening of three innovative ballets – of its time (George Balanchine’s Chaconne was first performed in 1976, Jiří Kylián’s Bella Figura– in 1995 and Stephen Galloway’s DEVIL’S/eye is first premiering on March 17, 2022 when we attended).
Boston Ballet is well recognized among the ballet companies for its work with the most forward contemporary choreographers as it continues to also stage classical ballets. “I can’t think of another company I would trust to come along on this journey with me” said Stephen Galloway, who created the centerpiece ballet of the evening – DEVIL’S/eye set to the music of Rolling Stones -especially for Boston Ballet. Aside from his work as a choreographer, Galloway is a well-known “fashion forward” brand consultant who designed the costumes for the piece. Long time artistic collaborator of William Forsythe at Ballet Frankfurt, Galloway has been embracing careers in both the dancing and the fashion world. He also worked with Rolling Stones for many years (as movement director for Mick Jagger).
As he was setting a celebration of Rolling Stones’ songs on a classical ballet stage for the first time, Galloway said that he intended to make a ballet “that’s both fun to dance and fun to look at”. He called it a “rhythmical reaction” to the Rolling Stones songs (according to the “Boston Globe”). His costumes are fittingly “sparkly, bright and purple”. While the Boston audience was not quite dancing in the aisles as the choreographer probably envisioned, they were quite vocal in their response to this exuberantly joyful celebration of the Stones’ music and gave it a standing ovation. A rock and roll party is what I can come up with to describe what was happening on stage, but I urge you to come and experience this ballet for yourself (I also hope it will become a part of the repertoire and we will see it again and again).
Out of the three performances this evening, my husband loved this ballet the best. He especially appreciated that the music was from Stones’ concert recordings and that the movements were staged to showcase both the lyrics and those longer interlude parts of the songs.
The evening started with Balanchine’s abstract ballet Chaconne set to the music of Gluck from the opera Orfeo ed Euridice. The opera is based on Greek mythology and expresses the ancient Greeks’ version of “paradise” – a melancholy; peaceful but also sad. It is mostly an ensemble piece (27 dancers) of contemporary choreography for its time (1976), and is the most “classical” one of the program, pure ballet. It is also a perfect set off for the louder emotions of the other two programs. While we connected with two other works of the evening more closely, we did greatly enjoy the pas de deux of Ji Young Chae and Paulo Arrais. (You can find the full casting information here.)
The final ballet was Jiří Kylián’s Bella Figura created in 1995. Boston Ballet was the first American Company to present this 9-dancer creation by the world renown choreographer in 2011 (we first saw it in 2014). Set to a selection of Baroque music (Lucas Foss, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Vivaldi) it celebrates the expressions of the human body- through the “poetry of movement”, regardless of gender. Possibly to support this idea- the dancers- both female and male – are dressed in identical red skirts and are nude from waist up.
Bella Figura Ballet was the part of the program that I connected with the most: there was a particular moment during Vivaldi’s Andante (from Concerto for 2 Mandolins) where I found myself completely lost in the moment, almost in tears. My husband enjoyed the geometrical interplays between the dancers but did not care for the larger group (of 9) movements.
DREAMstate runs approximately two hours and 20 minutes, including two intermissions.
For covid policy details, please visit bostonballet.org.
DREAMstate takes place at the Citizens Bank Opera House (539 Washington Street in Boston).
Here are the remaining performances:
Thursday, March 24 at 7:30 pm
Friday, March 25 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, March 26 at 1:30 pm
Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 27 at 1:30 pm
Tickets start at $39. For more information, visit bostonballet.org/DREAMstate or call 617.695.6955.