I love it when Boston Ballet has two rotating productions for us to enjoy (and appreciate versatility of the dancers!) This spring we are treated to the Parts In Suite mixed program of contemporary choreography and the full-length classic of Romeo & Juliet (music by Sergei Prokofiev, choreography by John Cranko); both ballets are running in Boston Opera House through the weekend of April 7.
If you have a chance, I recommend seeing them both and here is why.
Parts In Suite program is composed of 3 works by some of the world’s leading contemporary choreographers: Bach Cello Suites by Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer Jorma Elo, In Creases by New York City Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Justin Peck and Pas/Parts 2016 by William Forsythe (in his second year of the 5-year contract with the company). If you have ballet loving friends in Europe, you will be able to brag about watching a Forsythe’s production live – he has recently come back to the U.S. after a 30+year career with prominent ballet companies in Germany.
Interpreting contemporary abstract ballet is no easy task and I will leave it for you to experience them in the moment. And with live musical accompaniment onstage – by cellist Sergey Antonov in Bach Cello Suites and by two pianists performing Philip Glass’ Four Movements for Two Pianos in The Creases- this is exactly how the program is meant to be experienced.
I did ask Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen about his choice of the order in which the three ballets are presented:
“There is progression over three hundred years of music, – Nissinen said,- from Bach to Phillip Glass (In Creases) to the electronic score (in Forsythe’s). Going with period order gives audience a nice way to take one piece after another and enjoy it, and go further….”
Forsythe has made significant changes to his Pas/Parts 2016 for this production. In his interview to Medium, Nissinen went on to say that “Part of the reason we’re able to attract the best dancers in the world is because they know they will be dancing for Forsythe. It’s so demanding and hard, and his dances push them to the edge.”
“There is not too much going on in terms of sets, just three brilliant takes on the art form of choreography,”- Nissinen told me during the grand rehearsal on the opening night of the Pas/Parts 2016 program on March 9. To the contrary, there is SO much going on with the sets and costumes of Romeo & Juliet that Nissinen purchased from Joffrey Ballet in time for this run. The costumes were recreated from the designs by Jurgen Rose for the original Cranko’s production at the Stuttgart Ballet in 1962. And they do a great job of transforming us to Verona of the 16th century (I googled it and the scholars are still arguing over the exact timing).
I went to see Romeo & Juliet (based of course on Shakespeare’s eternal classic) with my 18-year old son. Growing up, my son had a special place in his heart for Shakespeare and especially, the Romeo & Juliet. (We also saw Boston Ballet’s 2011 production together). Not coming from the world of dance, my son was nevertheless completely taken by the music and the acting (and he did focus my attention on several particularly intricate dance movements).
In fact, having to combine authentic acting with technically complex dancing is a special challenge for the dancers in this arguably best representation of classical ballet. Principal dancer Lasha Khozashvili even admitted in an interview to having to stop and control himself from going too far with the music.
During the opening night on March 15 we were lucky to experience the airy lightness and dramatic authenticity of the perfectly cast Misa Kuranaga (Juliet).
I would also love to come back and see Lasha Khozashvili as Romeo. Check the website for updated casting for your date. There is so much talent at Boston Ballet, it makes you want to watch performances with different dancers in the leading roles.
When I was watching Parts In Suite I was admiring the extreme ability of the human body and brilliantly choreographed formations of dancers. It was a superb experience I enjoyed every moment of. You don’t however watch and admire Romeo & Juliet in the same way. You live it, are taken by it, and transformed in time and place (or else, the production has failed you). When the timeless familiar story ended, to my surprise, I had tears in my eyes. I have never responded this way (yet) to a contemporary program. Have you?
Fun fact: guest conductor Gavriel Heine (for March 15–25 performances) is the resident quest conductor at Mariinsky Theater of St. Petersburg and is the first American citizen to have graduated from the Moscow Conservatory.
Remaining performances of Romeo & Juliet, Boston Opera House
Romeo & Juliet performance length is approximately two hours and 45 minutes including two intermissions.
Friday, April 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Remaining performance of Parts In Suite, Boston Opera House
Saturday, Apr 7 at 7:30 pm* (post-show talk with artists)
Tickets for each performance start at $35. For more information, visit bostonballet.org or call 617.695.6955.
As always, we thank Boston Ballet for inviting us to see and report on their programs.
We are linking up with other #CulturedKids ideas around the world via The Pigeon Pair and Me Blog and with exciting travel destinations via #WeeklyPostcard blog link up at Travel Notes & Beyond Blog– check them out for your own trip ideas!!