Boston Ballet Takes on Godfathers of Dance and Rock ‘n Roll Guitar: My Obsession will become yours too

All Art Has Been Contemporary by Maurizio Nannucci at the Museum of Fine Arts

It is true that all art has been contemporary at some point. Boston Ballet’s season opener My Obsession is a mixed bill of dances that despite having premiered across the decades (1956, 2009, 1928, 2022) all feel modern. I was invited to see My Obsession for review and was extremely excited to get to see DEVIL’S/eye again to kick of the Boston Ballet season. The repertoire juxtaposed in this mixed bill seems to explores human connection. Our connection to the real (one another) and the ethereal (god, muses, the light of the moon).

Chyrstyn Fentroy and Paul Craig in Helen Pickett’s 月夜 Tsukiyo; photo by Rosalie O’Connor; courtesy of Boston Ballet

The show opens with Allegro Brillante choreographed by George Balanchine in 1956. The music is spritely and the dance is fun and free. Set to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 3, published posthumously, in 1894, Allegro Brillante contrast to the equally free and playful show closer DEVIL’S/eye which is danced to The Rolling Stones songs written in the 1960s.

Boston Ballet in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O’Connor; courtesy of Boston Ballet

It is so nice to have Jeffrey Cirio back at Boston Ballet. The energy, talent, and leadership that Cirio brings raises everyone up. In Allegro Brillante each dancer held their own and this was the most cohesive and strong I have seen the men of Boston Ballet in a while. The peace were fun to watch and a reminder of what human connection is about; sparking memories of young love and playfulness as the dancers partnered together. The movement was elegant, pretty and graceful in contrast with the next two pieces which showcase more awkward movements that in their odd way became beautiful too.

Tsukiyo, choreographed by Helen Pickett in 2008, opens with a figure sitting by the light of the moon. She has a rather awkward way of moving and teeters by the edge of the stage as a figure appears from the distance. The negative space between the two dancers, Paul Craig and Chrystyn Fentroy, is beautiful and sensual. This duet using negative space as well as physical touch makes you see partnering in a whole new way. This is probably one of the most beautiful duets I have seen not only because of the sophisticated and unique choreography but the partnership of these two soloists is something to celebrate. The awkward beauty of this duet is juxtaposed with a quartet of Apollo dancing with three of his muses.

Lia Cirio and Patrick Yocum in George Balanchine’s Apollo ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O’Connor; courtesy of Boston Ballet

Apollo, choreographed by George Balanchine in 1928, is like a game of twister at moments I love how the quartet is more like a solo controlling a trio. The movements of the three muses (perhaps) is not particularly traditionally balletic, but its satisfyingly orderly and playful. The use of shapes and space is fun to watch and almost tantric at times. Balanchine choreographs moments where Lia Cirio has to awkwardly lay on Patrick Yocum’s back and it goes instantly from awkward to stunningly beautiful. Apollo has some very jazzy dance moments. It tells the story of an ancient Greek god in a very modern way. After Apollo, comes one of the gods of Rock ‘n roll guitar: Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones.

Boston Ballet in Stephen Galloway’s DEVIL’S/eye; photo by Rosalie O’Connor; courtesy of Boston Ballet

When the curtain goes up it reveals a giant boombox like structure with bold rock ‘n roll lighting, and the crowd audibly perks up, moves a little closer to the edge of their seats and gets ready for something wild. DEVIL’S/eye choreographed and costumes designed by Stephen Galloway in 2022 is one big modern balletic dance party. It oozes cool like the good old rock ‘n roll bands of the 1960’s. There is an aloof, “don’t give a damn” kind of cool energy as bodies move across the stage in duets, solos, small groups and large ensemble. DEVIL’S/eye is one of Boston Ballet’s crown jewels and two of the sparkliest jems on that crown are Tyson Clark’s solo and the duets with Lia Cirio & Paul Craig, Chrystyn Fentroy & Tyson Clark, and Chisaka Oga and John Lam.

Boston Ballet is excellent when it comes to the classical story ballets, but the sweetest of sweet spots is watching their contemporary ballet works. The versatility of Boston Ballet’s dancers is something you don’t find in every company, but that ability to embrace both extremes of the ballet spectrum is the definition of a Boston Ballet dancer.

My Obsession plays at the Citizen’s Bank Opera House through October 16th. Tickets start at $39. For more information, visit bostonballet.org or call 617.695.6955.

My Obsession runs approximately two hours, including two intermissions.

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