I was told my body type wasn’t really ideal, and during high school I had ballet teachers who said that maybe I should consider pursuing college because my body wasn’t suitable for classical ballet...
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.
Boston Ballet closed its season with a generous offering of four ballets spanning almost 70 years... and including a world premiere and two company premieres...
The evening was full of surprises, not least that two of the three choreographers were women and that Jorma Elo broke radically new ground in his Bach Cello Suites...
The second night... this was by far the best program I’ve ever seen Ailey offer: five pieces, each as good as the others in its different way...
All three performances brought home the fact that this is a very strong company with the skills to perform any choreography that comes its way...
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.)
To close its 50th anniversary season Boston Ballet mounted a splendid production of Balanchine’s 1967 masterpiece Jewels.
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.
Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella is one of the great ballets of the 20th century and a triumph of his career.
Elo's Close to Chuck ...this is a wonderful ballet and, I predict, a permanent addition to the repertory.
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.
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.
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.
Boston audiences were very lucky in their first two Swanildas. Opening night, Misa Kuranaga was a vision of loveliness...
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.