Boston Ballet Review: Forsythe Elements
November 19, 2020 | Digital
Boston Ballet and William Forsythe have a close relationship; they are currently in a five-year partnership that began in 2016 where a new (to the company) work by the American choreographer would be introduced to the repertory each year. So it’s not surprising that the company would kick off its first ever completely virtual season with a program dedicated to his works.
Forsythe Elements serves best to introduce newcomers to a taste of the acclaimed choreographer’s portfolio as well as to fans of Boston Ballet who would appreciate a trip down memory lane watching recordings shown from both the recent and distant past (2011 through 2020).
Those who are wanting a more immersive ballet experience may feel a bit cheated as this program includes no broadcasts of any works in entirety. It is broken down into five sections; the first two were filmed earlier this month, the third and fifth each a trio of montages with a conversation between Forsythe and six company dancers sandwiched in the middle.
The program opens with the all-male Impossible section of Playlist (EP). The dancers are filmed alone or in pairs and then the clips arranged in a way to piece them together coherently. It’s definitely a made-for-film adaptation of the 2019 piece originally created for and premiered by Boston Ballet.
Following are excerpts from Pas/Parts 2018, a company-tailored reworking of the ballet made for Paris Opera Ballet. As in Playlist (EP), the dancers are masked (even when solo) creating a time stamp representative of the current health crisis.
We then see what feels more like an audition reel than a performance.
It is an interesting decision to share a patchwork of excerpts from each ballet – The Second Detail, Artifact 2017, and (more) Pas/Parts 2018 – rather than entire sections of each piece. The dancing is beautiful, but just as you start getting drawn in, the glimpses are over and the video and audio have already transitioned to another clip.
The same happens later on in the fifth section of the program with Blake Works I, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, and (more) Playlist (EP). It’s a shame because there’s never enough time to absorb the essence of each ballet.
As many companies who have created digital seasons have been doing, Boston Ballet provides extra content along with the showcase of ballets. Here we are privy to a Zoom conversation between Forsythe and some dancers during which they mostly discuss the collaborative atmosphere whenever the choreographer comes to the studios. There seems to be a great mutual respect, a reciprocal trust during the creative process which permits Forsythe to graciously ask his dancers, “Can I offer you a fresh step?”
2020-2021 Virtual Season | BB@yourhome
Boston Ballet’s Forsythe Elements is available to stream through November 29. For more information about this and other upcoming virtual programs, check out the calendar below.
Featured Photo for Boston Ballet Review: A Patchwork of Forsythe Parts of Roddy Doble and Lia Cirio in William Forsythe’s Artifact © Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet
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