Top 10 Reasons to See Boston Ballet's Onegin

Top 10 Reasons to See Boston Ballet's Onegin

Onegin 2002
Pollyana Ribeiro and Alexander Ritter in John Cranko’s Onegin 2002; photo by Marty Sohl courtesy of Boston Ballet.

When we take refuge under the banner
Of quiet and sombre rationality,
When passions’ flames have grown much dimmer
And their unbridled liberty
Is now ridiculous, and their outbursts,
And even their belated thirsts, –
Then, with some struggle, now being sober
We love to hear sometimes the tale
From another’s tongue of passion’s gale,
And sometimes it can stir our soul.

– Alexander Pushkin, Onegin

  1. Have your soul stirred by the drama, unbridled love, and passion of Boston Ballet’s Onegin.

    Onegin 2002
    Partying like it is 1884 are Larissa Ponomarenko and Viktor Plotnikov in John Cranko’s Onegin 2002; photo by Marty Sohl, courtesy of Boston Ballet
  2. Party like it is 1884. I love a good party scene and Onegin has some great playful “line dances” in the country and grand Fantasia like dancing in the ballroom. The choreography, costumes and set design all come together to envelope the audience with the joy, grandeur and spirit of the parties from far away and long ago.
    Petra Conti and Bo Busby as Tatiana and Prince Gremin in John Cranko’s Onegin, Boston Ballet 2016


  3. Petra Conti.  To be fair, I have only seen Ms. Conti dance the part of Tatiana and I have no doubt that Misa Kuranaga’s own unique portrayal of Tatiana is spectacular. But Petra Conti is a flawless Tatiana beyond her dancing.  She embodies the part with her stature, her facial expressions and her body language. Lasha Khozashvili is equally flawless as the smug and horrid Onegin.  Both Lasha Khozashvili as Onegin and Bo Busby, as Prince Gremin partner perfectly with Petra Conti in their very different roles and relationships with Tatiana.
  4. Ashley Ellis. As with Ms. Conti, I only saw Ashley Ellis in the role of Olga.  Ms. Ellis’ Olga is giddy and coquettish and a little bit of trouble too.  Her movement as well as Petra Conti’s is so natural and seems second nature as they are twirling on a wooden box around their toes, leaping above the heads of their partners on stage and balancing in seemingly gravity defying positions.
  5. The pantomime in Onegin brings laughter, heartbreak and tears to the audience.  On Saturday evening, it brought the entire audience to their feet in a standing ovation.  The characters that the corps and supporting cast members play all come alive not just through their choreographed dances but through the pantomime that is a big part of John Cranko’s ballet.  If you are new to the ballet, then I highly recommend Onegin as a first ballet.  It is full of drama and emotion and the pantomime makes the story quite easy to follow whereas other ballets can be a bit more abstract.
  6. True tenderness, passion and heartbreak is an intimate thing that we rarely share or discuss with those outside the relationship.  In live performance, the movement and the music unlock feelings that don’t come through on a screen whether you’re a movie lover, a spotify addict, or a tv junkie.  There isn’t anything like the sound that rises up from the orchestra pit to meet the lighting, set, costumes, and dancing that weaves itself into the music to create a greater story of life.  This live tapestry of the visual, the aural and the emotional strikes chords in the audience and reflects our own humanity back to us as we live it, we dream it and we contemplate it.
  7. Breathtaking dancing. John Cranko’s Onegin is fairly contemporary having premiered by the Stuttgart Ballet in 1965.  Though the setting is 19th century Russia and the costumes and story paint a historic picture, the partnering, and lifts especially are new and unique somewhere between classical ballet and avant garde.
  8. Music. Jonathan McPhee’s orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s is, at moments when the scene is just beginning, the star of the show.  It sets the tone and makes what you are about to see or have just seen resonate deeper within your body and soul.
  9. Kissing.  Lots of kissing. Well maybe there isn’t that much kissing, but the tender, torn, thought through and not thought out at all kisses seal many deals and set a few fates on stage in the story of Pushkin’s Onegin.

    Petra Conti as Tatiana holding one of the pivotal letters in  John Cranko’s Onegin, Boston Ballet 2016
  10. 10. Letters.  We send a lot of emails and texts these days, but the letter is a rare treat.  Letter writing has a physicality and permanence that our digital forms of communication don’t seem to.  Putting the pen to paper is one part of it all.  Folding up the page as if safely securing its contents as it is sent off on its journey to the recipient.  The other thing that you can do with a letter that isn’t quite as satisfying as left swiping a message is to clench it in your hands, toss it, rip it, use it to soak up the emotion you have been holding inside.

Boston Ballet’s Onegin will be performed at the Boston Opera House through March 6th.

  • Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm
  • Friday, March 4, 2016 at 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm
  • Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 7:30 pm
  • Sunday, March 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm


Tickets start at $35. For more information, visit or call 617-695-6955.

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