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Boston Ballet, London, June 2013


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Boston Ballet have 2 varied and interesting mixed bills at the Coliseum, here are a couple of samples from Programme One (Serenade, Afternoon of a Faun, Plan to B, Symphony in Three Movements)

 

 

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Boston Ballet - Serenade
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Boston Ballet - Plan to B (Lia Cirio)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Boston Ballet - Symphony in Three Movements
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr



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Set from DanceTabs - Boston Ballet, programme ONE
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 

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What a wonderful programme (No. 1) presented by Boston Ballet last night.  It was SO refreshing .... I only wished that the Faun had been the Robbins (which is also in their rep) as it is less seen here.  Wonderful dancing - so colourfully individual within the framework of the whole - Misa Kuranaga, Bradley Schlagheck (who appeared in three out of the four selections - so different in each), the stunning Whitney Jensen, Lorna Feijoo - and especially Paulo Arrais and a radiant Kathleen Breen Combes in that life-enriching pas de deux in Symphony in Three Movements - stand out just now in my mind's eye.  What a rich canvas was on display.  Also it was glorious to see the Serenade and Symphony in Three Movements as remounted by (i) Judith Fugate and (ii) Russell Kaiser (now the Assistant AD at Boston Ballet).  Having seen these fine artists dance so much during their time with NYCB, you could see their own form through Balanchine's masterful dance drama although nothing was in any way distorted (which sadly could not be said for certain elements in the RB's recent Symphony in C showings - and [before anyone asks] I say that having seen four of their recent performances - and (on the positive balance) thought Marianella absolutely radiant in the second movement on each occasion.)  The BB dancers told the thrilling drama in each THROUGH THE DANCE itself.  That was exactly as the doctor ordered methinks.  Certainly there was no harshly distorted barnstorming in place of the detail of the choreography.  The whole here was GLORIOUSLY REFRESHING and, through the whole, the individual was glorified which was, I think, as Balanchine wanted.  He knew his ballets would live in that way.  (Of course, ALL masterworks somehow survive irregardless.  That is their BRILLIANCE.)    

How I wish BB could dance here more often.  (A pipe dream I know.)  It would be most instructive to see them do Ashton's Cinderella (which they are doing for Xmas in Boston).  How wonderful if you could bring that and, say, the fine programme from the Ashton Festival by Sarasota Ballet (I. Webb, AD) to Sadler's Wells and see how those works differed from more recent memories of our experiences with the Royal Ballet.  This would also allow O'Hare to further concentrate on his programmes of new work which he has so proudly and rightly devoted the company to for the benefit of all and our collective future.  Perhaps this could be matched with, say, ABT's or NBoC's Month in the Country in a mixed programme of varying companies such as they show in festivals at the Kennedy Center.  Surely this would be worthy of a small slice of lottery subsidy in the sense of a 'Heritage Returned via an International Prism'.  It could, I think, be telling - and certainly lead to a further and healthy debate/education for an ever burgeoning many without (one hopes) diminishing quality.  (Of course, I know, I KNOW this won't happen ... but just imagine if it could!!!)  Perhaps a series of live cinema relays co-ordinated by the ROH's Opus Arte in such a regard might do the trick .... Again, I realise this is just a dream ... but surely that's where all good things begin ... (don't they????).   :)

Edited by Meunier
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Boston have acquired Ashton's Cinderella?  They used to dance the Corder version that ENB have.  Interesting.

 

BTW, I keep thinking that Plan To B is the Elo piece that Royal New Zealand Ballet brought to the Barbican a couple of years ago.  If I'm wrong, can someone put me right, please?

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Yes, Alison.  It is the Ashton.  Here's the season link: http://www.bostonballet.org/cinderella/  (Sorry, it is to be presented in March and not Christmas as I originally suggeted). 

 

Hell will freeze over before any North American ballet company does anything but Nutcracker at Christmas! I believe Boston Ballet does 42 performances of it.

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Yes ... The intervals were refreshingly brief ... and the programme was well managed ... as opposed to so many instances I can think of in another major local house.  (Sadly no prizes for guesses.)  

Edited by Meunier
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And here are a few more pictures from first programme from this wonderful company, can't wait for programme two.

 

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 Misa Kuranaga and ladies of the company in Serenade 

 

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Altan Dugaraa - Faun and Lorna Feijoo - Nymph in Afternoon of a Faun 

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 Kathleen Breen Combes and Paulo Arrais in Symphony in Three Movements 

 

More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk

 

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Katherine:  North American Nutcrackers at Christmas!!  I had just started with the Links team on the old ballet.co when Alastair Macaulay went on his regal progress from around mid-November 2010 to sometime in January 2011, visiting I can't recall how many of those performances for NY Times reviews - upwards of 30, I'd say, many to small companies that I'm sure he would never normally see.  Mind you, I think they were all south of the 49th Parallel and that he left the Canadian ones to other reviewers.

 

Back on-thread, this all sounds and looks very promising for my trip to town for the last show on Saturday night - I'd happily see Serenade once a week for a long time.  The rest are bonuses, though I'm a bit iffy about Faun.

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My thoughts on last night's performance are as follows. I thought that it took a while for the company (or perhaps me) to warm up. I thought that Serenade lacked a little something and did not have that last ounze of precision. It dragged a bit in the middle section. Faun was fine but I do wonder whether anyone has been able to dance it convincingly since Nijinsky.The men really came into their own in the Elo which I liked very much. Jeffrey Cirio really impressed both in this (stunning refined jumps) and in Symphony in Three Movements. I also really liked Misa Kuranga but was less keen on Lia Cirio partly because of her very prominent bleached teeth which were on permanent display. it was a brave programme and at the beginning the audience was very cool indeed. My impression was that many in the audience were newcomers to ballet. Dusty Button danced two leading roles last night. She's still in the corps and I don't know whether she was cast with the London audience in mind.

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Well I seriously hope this is good. I stupidly paid for full price tickets several months ago and now I find that not only were tickets given away half price but it clashes with Andy Murray's Wimbledon final. Serenade is my favourite ballet and now I find it described as 'lacking'. Oh dear!

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Tabitha, mine is just one opinion and others on Twitter have raved about the company's performance of Serenade. As I said above, perhaps I was a little cool (in mood) at the start of the evening. I think that I was rather disconcerted by the audience around me. There was something about it which created a rather odd atmosphere. Actually, the audience applauded the dancers quite enthusiastically at the end of Serenade, once it was clear that it *was* definitely the end (I think that the audience was very unsure when to applaud and I don't blame them as I felt unsure as well), and Plan to B and Symphony in Three Movements were also well received.

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I went to see Boston Ballet on Thursday evening.  Overall I really enjoyed it and was pleased to have been there.  When looking at the two programmes on offer I was definitely more drawn to Programme 1, but felt I should also go to Programme 2 to try and get a real feel for the company.  They are obviously proud of the contemporary works in their repertoire.

 

It’s always a pleasure to see Serenade, it’s one of those ballets that at certain points makes me want to get up and join in the fun.  I thought all the corps ladies danced like they could all be principals.  I especially liked Kathleen Breen Combes.

 

I’ve seen Afternoon of the Faun a few times, and the more I see it the more uncertain I feel about it.  I can’t work out whether I enjoy it or not.  I didn’t really feel that it added anything to the programme on this occasion.

 

Whilst the rest of the audience reacted enthusiastically for Plan B, I wasn’t so keen on it.  Whilst it was danced with commitment, I didn’t feel there was anything deeper on offer from the choreography.  It just felt like a lot of jumping, twisting and spinning about.  I would be willing to give it a second go to confirm my reaction, maybe I missed something.

 

Symphony in Three Movements is a ballet with which I am not so familiar, having only seen it the once in a performance by BRB.  What I enjoyed most about the performance on Thursday was the ability of the dancers to bring out the wit of the choreography. I too was distracted by the teeth of Lia Cirio.

 

I liked the programme book produced for this tour especially the pictures of the principal dancers taken against landmark buildings of Boston.  It also contains portraits of all the dancers, making much easier to identify who is who. I also want to mention the RPO who played splendidly all evening, sound particularly luscious in the Debussy. 

 

I'm seeing Programme 2 on Saturday afternoon.

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Bella Figura was excellent in tonight's Programme 2. I wasn't too keen on the start of it with full lights on in the house and no music, but I'm happy to take that bit of Kylián’s mannerisms (or is that the company's choice? It the second time i've seen this with a Kylián piece. Someone sitting next to me just assumed the lights were broken) when it's followed by something as involving and beautifully performed as the rest of Bella Figura.

 

Wasn't too keen on the Polyphonia, it just felt to same-y after a while, and occasionally a little bit out of synch.

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Now to programme 2. The Second Detail, Polyphonia and Bella Figura.  Here are some pictures from the rehearsal.

 

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Artists of the Boston Ballet in William Forsythe's The Second Detail 

 

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 Artists of the Boston Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon's Polyphonia 
 
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Jiri Kylian's Bella Figura 
 
Edited by johnross
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I saw the second programme this afternoon. I liked The Second Detail and Polyphonia but wasn't so keen on Bella Figura, which was received less enthusiastically by the audience. There was some superb dancing on display today. John Lamm really stood out. I feel that the company performed the more contemporary work better than the Balanchine. My favourite piece of the seven was Plan to B.

 

I was surprised at how enthusiastic the audiences were today and on Thursday as the programmes were far from your tutu ballet (with the exception of Serenade) and the audiences seemed to be mostly of the "shall we go to the ballet, dear; there's a half price ticket offer" variety. I'm not saying this sneeringly at all, but I was worried that they might hate it or walk out. Unusually, there was very little audience disturbance in the form of mobile phones, talking, rustling sweet wrappers etc.

 

I feel that, bearing in mind the competition from the good weather, Wimbledon and other overseas companies visiting London this year, the size of the audiences at the two performances which I saw was not too bad at all. If it had not been for Wimbledon I would have booked to see both programmes again.

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Stunning second programme from Boston Ballet - loved all three pieces! Here are some sample pics...

 

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Boston Ballet - The Second Detail
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Boston Ballet - Polyphonia
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Boston Ballet - Bella Figura
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr



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Set from DanceTabs - Boston Ballet, programme TWO
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


By kind Permission of Boston Ballet
 

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Looks like my much-delayed (don't ask!) 70th Birthday Tiger Moth trip may well get airborne this afternoon, so only time for a quick word to say that BB's Programme 1 was well-received last night. Plan to B went down particularly well, getting a concluding roar of approval no doubt very similar to that which caused Mr Crisp to write, sportingly: "Oh, Mr Crisp.  Wrong again!"  And I can add that as the curtain went up on the 17 diagonally-arranged ladies for Serenade, that sight also induced a spontaneous burst of applause.  The Corps were just great in that and in Symphony - congrats to all concerned.  Faun, I fear, had me largely tuned-out, and listening as Kevin O'Hare, perhaps, Bob Newhart style, to a choreographer on the phone trying to sell him today a scenario about a glade, nymphs, and a weird animal "and at the end, Walt, he does what?!!"  Long live the Robbins version.

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 Faun, I fear, had me largely tuned-out, and listening as Kevin O'Hare, perhaps, Bob Newhart style, to a choreographer on the phone trying to sell him today a scenario about a glade, nymphs, and a weird animal "and at the end, Walt, he does what?!!"  

 

Wonderful - my laugh-out-loud moment of the year. Thank you, Ian!

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I ended up seeing both programmes twice and found that I liked both of them more on second viewing (obviously i liked them enough the first time around to make me buy a second ticket). I'd probably watch anything that has Jeffrey Cirio and Misa Kuranaga dancing, they were just great to watch.

 

I did notice a couple of empty seats after the first or second act for most performances, and quite a few young couples where one half definitely didn't look like they wanted to be there. And one couple left after I asked them (very nicely! I swear!) in the intermission if they could lean back during the performance. I feel a little guilty if I made them feel like they were told off by snooty ballet watchers, but the girl in front of me was swivelling her head like mad to see past them and started leaning forward herself - and I was planning on uninterrupted viewing for Bella Figura.

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Interesting to read this "compare and contrast" review from someone used to seeing them on home turf: http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2013/07/07/boston-ballet-performing-london/ySedWdXQiVvHh4dim6w99K/story.html

I wonder how much bigger the Coli stage is than, I was going to say the Wang Center, but I'm not sure they use that any more, do they?  I know it's a huge theatre.

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Yes, I thought that it was interesting to read how the pieces transferred to the Coliseum stage. Alison, are you saying that the Wang Theater stage is huge? The reviewer mentioned the depth of the Coliseum stage.

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The Wang is huge but BB's home is now in the Boston Opera House. This thread prompted me to try and find details of the theatres:

 

ROH 2,256 seats - proscenium 44' wide, 37' high, stage 78' deep
 
Coliseum 2,359 seats - proscenium 55' wide, 34' high
 
Wang Theatre Boston 3,600 seats - proscenium 60' wide, 36' high, stage 80' deep
 
Boston Opera House 2,677 seats - proscenium 55' wide, 34' high, stage 92' deep
 
It looks as if the Coliseum and Boston Opera House are pretty similar in size though I couldn't find a figure for the depth of the Coli stage.
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Well I definitely wasn't disappointed. Programme one was amazing and I loved it - such an amazing display and I think the audience agreed. There was a lot of cheering from the balcony.

 

Would have loved to have been able to see programme two as well but actually not sure I could have coped with Bella Figura. Seems a step too far to have them dancing topless, even if it is to make an artistic statement, I'm sure there are other ways of delivering the same message. Seems gratuitous and I worry that the dancers feel they have to do it, regardless of whether they feel comfortable.

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