Boston Ballet kicked, lifted, shoulder punched, and spun their season off last week to a packed house of ballet lovers. I have mentioned before that Boston Ballet’s mixed bill programs are my favourites and this was no exception. Boston Ballet’s Fall Experience began with a fan favourite (or at very least one I look forward to always), followed by an oldie but new to Boston Ballet, a completely new work by Boston Ballet dancer and choreographer My’Kal Stromile, and ended with an earth shattering roar of a work by Akram Kahn. There was no overt theme, but there were little threads connecting each of the works. Everything was well received by the audience, although I did hear overhear one comment, “Well that was a departure from the usual.” A departure from the usual is hopefully a welcome thing, and by the standing ovations especially after the final piece, it seems to have been. Boston Ballet’s Fall Experience runs through October 15th. For a special discount on Fall Experience use discount code: BBTIX40 for $40 tickets.
At the ballet, the theatre, a concert, a movie we have a shared experience but at the same time everyone brings their own unique filter through which they take it all in. For me, Bach Cello Suites is extra special because of how much my father loved the cello. My father loved music of all styles. Whether you have a connection to the cello or not, Bach Cello Suites is a polished gem of a work. The cellist is on stage with the dancers and his presence is just as much a part of the work as the ballet. Bach Cello Suites was created for Boston Ballet in 2015 by Jorma Elo and I could happily see this work every year. There are parts of the piece that are fast paced, like the strings version of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, and then some of the quietest most tender moments, which just melt you as you take it in. When an entire theatre full of people is silent and the deep soft resonance of the cello barely spills out from the stage into the theatre and the movement between the two dancers feels more like an emotion than motion, that is the gift of witnessing Bach Cello Suites.
Trois Gnossiennes, was new to me, but it was originally performed by the Dutch National Ballet in 1982. I enjoyed the simplicity and movement in this one. Trois Gnossiennes, also had the musician on stage, but this time it was a grand piano. The music moved as well as the dancers. The moving piano, was glided across the stage by three dancers, moving the piano and pianist as he played. This shift of where the music came from brought attention to the music in different ways, creating an extra dynamic in the piece. The duet performed by Ji Young Chae and Patrick Yocum was seamless and beautiful.
It is always a little difficult to write about a new choreographer not because their work isn’t wonderful but because it is never quite as refined as a seasoned choreographer’s work, but that shouldn’t take away from all the creative effort. My’Kal Stromile’s piece, Form and Gesture, had so many moments of wow factor, playfulness and deeper meaning, but like any newer work, it felt like it needed just a little more editing and refinement. I loved the way Stromile played with light on the dancers and in the space. It was something that stood out, in a good way throughout the various segments of the piece. The choreography was also interesting, beautiful, and well thought out. I would have liked to see the two opening sections of the piece, called exhibits, edited down a bit, but overall I enjoyed the piece and cannot wait to see more of Stromile’s work. If this is his starting point, there is a lot to look forward to in the future of dance.
Akram Kahn’s Vertical Road (Reimagined) 2023 World Premiere stole my heart. From the music to the movement, I felt like I was watching a movie, or one of my favourite dystopian slightly fantastical television series. At one point, I heard myself just exclaim, “Woah!” mid-movement and “You better run!” at another. I was entranced. The power in the drums and the dancing that matched it blew me away like the dust from their bodies. The work had a corps de ballet that moved so strongly as a unit that it had you thinking and feeling hard about human connection and life with always one or two soloists outliers. Without knowing anything about the work, I could feel in my bones what Kahn was telling me. I shed a few tears at one point; there was a feeling of both existential dread and human connection all twisted together. Despite the heaviness of the message in Vertical Road (Reimagined) the piece didn’t leave you feeling hopeless. I felt energized, driven, human to the core and ready to accept and use all my humanness to feel a little deeper and do a little more.
I mentioned there was no specific theme to Boston Ballet’s Fall Experience, but threads connecting it all together. Those ties for me were definitely threads of human connection and all the ways we feel that with one another either in intimate relationships or in community and society as a whole.
Open yourself up to feeling Vertical Road (Reimagined) this fall, Bach Cello Suites, Trois Gnossiennes, and Form and Gesture. Boston Ballet’s Fall Experience runs through October 15th. For a special discount on Fall Experience use discount code: BBTIX40 for $40 tickets.