Boston Ballet’s rEvolution

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

You tell me that it’s evolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

The Beatles

The contemporary mixed bill programs are the ones I enjoy the most in Boston Ballet’s season and rEvolution was worthy of all my excited anticipation. I was invited to see rEvolution as a guest for review, and as always all opinions are my own.

George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and William Forsythe are three very different people who choreographed in different times. Balanchine and Robbins collaborated for 30 years at New York City Ballet and William Forsythe, a New Yorker dancing at the Joffrey, was also influenced by Balanchine. This common thread is felt throughout the program.

Boston Ballet in Robbins’ Glass Pieces; photo by Rosalie O’Connor; courtesy of Boston Ballet

Balanchine’s work so often has that feel of peeking into the dance world from the outside. Little details like the simple costumes and ballet belt have that “looking in through the studio window” feel. There are moments in Agon where the rhythm of the piece is being clapped out and it evokes ballet class with teachers counting and tapping out the music to get their dancers to hear it and keep their movement in synch with the music.

While Balanchine’s piece is a look at every day dancer life. Robbins’ work always has a very human, pedestrian, “every day life” feel. The way Robbins has bodies walking across the stage seems simple and yet it is the repetition and tweaking of movement that turns the mundane into the breathtaking. In fact, after the piece ended and the applause trickled out. From behind me I heard a women whisper in complete bliss, “I loved that.”. Robbins’ work is very loveable. Isabelle and I both enjoyed Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces the most of the three.

Lia Cirio and Paulo Arrais in Robbins’ Glass Pieces; photo by Rosalie O’Connor; courtesy of Boston Ballet

If Balanchine’s piece is a look into the classical ballet studio, and Robbins’ is a busy daily life city scene, then Forsythe’s is a futuristic machine like filter on the human experience. The tone is definitely set with the electronic score by Tom Willems but it is the movement and dancer’s energy and force that morphs in and out of human/machine.

I am always preaching the power of the arts. It is a difficult time in the world right now for many reasons. Modern life is complicated. Each of these choreographers were looking at human experiences and creating art based on what they knew and how they wanted to have an impact on their audiences, there dancers and their peers. Whether it is a piece choreographed in 1957 (Balanchine * Dwight D Eisenhower is president* Civil Rights Act enforcing voter rights is signed), a dance choreographed in 1983 (Robbins* Ronald Reagan is president*) or 1987 (Forsythe* Reagan is president and we are mid Iran-Contra affair) they all feel contemporary. It is a reminder that not only does history repeat itself, but there are common threads to the human experience.

The company is also constantly evolving and growing. As a whole with many changes at all levels, Boston Ballet seems to have nicely gelled with this group of seasoned veteran étoiles like Lia Cirio, John Lam, Ashley Ellis, and Lasha Khozashvili creating a strong foundation and being dynamic, unique cornerstones to the company. For this performance Dawn Atkins was particularly notable as her dancing and artistry shone.

Boston Ballet’s rEvolution runs through March 8th. Tickets begin at $25 and can be purchased here.

Leave a Reply