Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boston Ballet's "Night of Stars"

The school and company of the Boston Ballet.
Last weekend Boston Ballet opened the fall season with its traditional "Night of Stars," a dazzling benefit that generally features the company's recent hits, a preview of an upcoming work, and a few virtuosic solos, often from a guest star.  This year, that luminary was Jennifer DePalo, of the Martha Graham Dance Company, who did indeed shine in a series of short dances, including one of Graham's signature works, Lamentation - an intense, if somewhat bare, physical metaphor for grief (done seated), in which DePalo strained against her shroud-like costume as her character did against her anguish. Elsewhere the dancer deployed a palpably sensual presence and an extremely clean technique in lighter moods: Graham's Serenata Morisca (after Ted Shawn) was almost amusing in its haughty lustiness, while Satyric Festival - a reconstruction of an American Pueblo Indian dance in which DePalo leapt for the sky and whipped her golden mane of hair repeatedly - may have been a bit opaque, but was still strangely exuberant.

The solos from the Ballet company were the other highlights of the evening; I'm afraid none of the ensemble dances came off quite as well as they have in the past.  The opening gambit, Jorma Elo's breathless Double Evil, sometimes looked half-hearted, despite the thundering propulsion of the Philip Glass score (although it did feature spirited work from Paulo Arrais, Lia Cirio, and Dalay Parrondo, and the men sometimes had the right kind of athletic passion).  There were likewise strong individual turns in other group pieces - Sabi Varga hung onto a stern command throughout the goofy "Indians" excerpt from La Bayadère (in which the "natives" look ready to throw Fay Wray into a volcano or something) - and Erica Cornejo was delicately haunting in her solo from Jerome Robbins' Antique Epigraphs (although she couldn't save this piece from a certain moody monotony).  Weakest of all was the excerpt from William Forsythe's The Second Detail, which wasn't nearly as cleanly (or as casually) savage as it should be.

Oh, well - as I said, the solo and partner pieces made up for all this and then some.  Adiarys Almeida beamed with a plummy radiance through a confidently executed Carnival in Venice, attentively partnered by Joseph Gatti, whose signature leaps are as gracefully sculpted as ever.  Meanwhile the charismatic Jeffrey Cirio brought his customary zip to The Golden Idol (also from La Bayadère), although he couldn't quite transform his boyish breeziness into the fascinating alienation the idol's presence should really exude.  Later in the program Lia Cirio and Nelson Madrigal offered a gently lush pas de deux from Les Sylphides, but were probably bested by the dancing of Misa Kuranaga and James Whiteside in the one piece by Balanchine on offer, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.  Kuranaga and Whiteside were stunning in their Balanchine performances last year - this one didn't have quite the same precision in places, but was still luminously subtle and often exquisite.

Then came the Ballet's traditional Défilé - a long pageant in which everybody in both the Ballet's school and company takes a bow (that's right, from the beginners all the way to the stars). It's a charming custom, and a delightful parade, that ends with a dazzling tableau (at top) which helps the Ballet's audience connect with the full sweep of its endeavors. And needless to say, the entire program is designed to whet one's appetite for the upcoming season, which opens this Thursday with John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet (a lovely production I've seen before).  I'll be writing about that early next week; I hope to see you there.

No comments:

Post a Comment