Author: Alan Helms

Alan Helms is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts/Boston and the University of Paris. For the past 15 years, he's written on dance for South End News and InNewsweekly (both Boston weeklies), and more recently Balletco. When not watching dance or gardening or spending time with friends, he can be found lying on his couch at home reading Proust.

Under are the articles written for DanceTabs. Reviews on Balletco
Ashley Ellis and Eris Nezha in Swan Lake.© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – Swan Lake – Boston

At my first performance, Ashley Ellis was a first-rate Odette/Odile, giving a nearly flawless performance. (I’m assuming that flawless performances transpire only in Heaven or some other extraterrestial locale.)

Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio in Rubies, © The George Balanchine Trust.© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version

Boston Ballet – Jewels: Emeralds, Rubies, Diamonds – Boston

To close its 50th anniversary season Boston Ballet mounted a splendid production of Balanchine’s 1967 masterpiece Jewels.

Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman's Cacti.© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – Pricked: Etudes, D.M.J. 1953-1977, Cacti – Boston

The evening ended with Alexander Ekman’s Cacti, one of the most wildly original, hilarious dances I’ve ever seen. If the Keystone Cops had taken up ballet, this is what they’d have looked like.

Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio in Cinderella.© Gene Schiavone. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – Cinderella – Boston

Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella is one of the great ballets of the 20th century and a triumph of his career.

Whitney Jensen and Jeffrey Cirio in Elo’s C. to C. (Close to Chuck) Reborn.© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – C. to C. (Close to Chuck) Reborn, Resonance, Bella Figura – Boston

Elo’s Close to Chuck …this is a wonderful ballet and, I predict, a permanent addition to the repertory.

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Perpetual Dawn.© Paul B. Goode. (Click image for larger version)

Paul Taylor Dance Company – Perpetual Dawn, Private Domain, Black Tuesday – Boston

Not the least of Taylor’s genius shows in his choice of dancers. All are superb performers who are also quite handsome to look at. If I were asked to populate an alien world from scratch, I’d begin with the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Boston Ballet in La Bayadere.© Gene Schiavone. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – La Bayadere – Boston

As for the whole ballet, it’s a 19th century expression of the racist Orientalist view that says India is a land of groveling slaves and despotic rajahs, unbridled lust and pervasive corruption, abundant opium and yielding odalisques. …Once past all that, however, it’s a lavish and thrilling spectacle with abundant pleasures for eye and ear.

Studio picture of Kirven James Boyd and Rachael McLaren.© Andrew Eccles. (Click image for larger version)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Minus 16 quad bill – Boston

The whole thing (Minus 16) wasn’t a piece of choreography so much as a choreographed event, and hands down one of the most delightful things I’ve ever seen.

Misa Kuranaga and Boyko Dossev in George Balanchine's Coppélia © The George Balanchine Trust.© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – Coppélia – Boston

Boston audiences were very lucky in their first two Swanildas. Opening night, Misa Kuranaga was a vision of loveliness…

Jeffrey Cirio in Wayne McGregor’s Chroma.© Gene Schiavone. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – Chroma, Serenade, Symphony in C – Boston

Chroma: Perhaps it’s meant as a kind of sherbet to clear the palate between the Balanchine pieces… In short, I found the ballet dazzling but soulless.

Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio in The Sleeping Beauty.© Rosalie O'Connor. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – The Sleeping Beauty – Boston

The opening night Aurora and Désiré were danced by Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio, a superbly matched couple who have become a standard in the company.

Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio in The Nutcracker.© Gene Schiavone. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – The Nutcracker – Boston

And together, Kuranaga and Cirio make a superb couple, performing with such sensitive musicality and balanced unison that it sometimes seems you’re watching a single composite creature.

Mikko Nissinen. © Eric Antoniou. (Click image for larger version)

Mikko Nissinen – Boston Ballet – Artistic Director

“I think for me the high point is that I don’t see Boston audiences as having any limitations. When I got here everybody was telling me what I couldn’t do and people warned me to play it safe. But I have found people extremely open and willing to explore and I’m really thrilled about that.”

Carlos Molina in Don Quixote. © Gene Schiavone. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – Don Quixote – Boston

And I’ll close with more praise of Maina Gielgud. I’ve never seen a ballet she’s set that hasn’t been absolutely first-rate. Boston Ballet has performed her Giselle for many years now and it’s easily my favorite Giselle, just as this production is now my favorite Don Quixote.

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Boston Ballet – Play with Fire triple bill – Boston

But in Sharper, aggressively awkward movements are kept to a minimum: the ugly is reduced, and the residue now acts like a tonic of wit. And for the first time in Elo’s work, at least in my experience, we find a lyricism and beauty so profound they sometimes took my breath away.

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Boston Ballet – Simply Sublime triple bill – Boston

Symphony in Three Movements: This collaboration of two of the giants of 20th century art (Balanchine, Stravinsky) was clearly a marriage made in heaven, and thanks to Boston Ballet’s newest production, we got to attend the nuptials.

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