Boston Ballet Review: Look Back, Focus Forward
January 21, 2021 | Digital
The first program of Boston Ballet’s BB@yourhome season for 2021 gives audiences access to a trio of Leonard Yakobson’s ballets along with insider conversations about the company’s past tours and future works.
Although we also see glimpses of George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements and Jiří Kylián’s Bella Figura as well as rehearsal footage of Ken Ossala’s Zoom In that he is creating for the company’s Process & Progress program, the highlights of the program are definitely at the beginning.
A Yakobson Sampling
To open, Derek Dunn takes on the seven-minute solo originally choreographed for Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vestris, titled after and inspired by the French dancer Auguste Vestris.
Filmed fifty years after its premiere, Vestris is an audio and visual study of the Baroque essence. Donned in an adjusted-for-ballet justacorps and white wig, Dunn captures with facial expression and stylized gestures emotions that range the comedic to coquettish to angry. In between each vignette he recovers to poker face composure before virtuosically jumping and turning into his next act.
Next we travel to the Romantic period for Pas de Quatre for which Yakobson retains the ethereal quality portrayed in the Jules Perrot version which we most closely associate with this title. The four ladies in their sylphide-esque costumes and flowers adorning their hair dance the entire first movement joined hand-in-hand.
Ji Young Chae, Ekaterine Chubinidze, Maria Baranova, and Nina Matiashvilli are then each given a moment in the spotlight. Contrary to what is often expected from a series of variations, these don’t feel distinct. All have a light, airy, spirited quality that camouflage some of the incredibly difficult pointe work. The dancers admirable tackle these steps all the while maintaining the delicate, nuanced port de bras.
Closing the Yakobson portion of the program are excerpts from Rodin, a less balletic, more figure-focused work that exemplifies the different types of love reflected in the French artist’s pieces.
The pas de deux danced by Sun Woo Lee and Abigail Merlis, María Álvarez and Alec Roberts, and Emily Entingh and Michael Ryan – The Eternal Spring, The Kiss, and The Eternal Idol – are still pieces brought to life.
Think Night at the Museum. You pause in front of one of the sculptures and suddenly soul is breathed into the bronze and transformed into a tangible emotion before returning to its quiet state. It is stunning.
2020-2021 Virtual Season | BB@yourhome
Boston Ballet’s Look Back, Focus Forward is available to stream through January 31. For more information about this and other upcoming virtual programs, click the link to check out the calendar.
Featured Photo for Boston Ballet Review: Ji Young Chae, Ekaterine Chubinidze, Viktorina Kapitonova, and Ashley Ellis in Leonid Yakobson’s Pas de Quatre © Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Boston Ballet
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