Back in London for the first time in 30 years, Boston Ballet look fresh, fast and strong. Balanchine’s Serenade, the first work on the company’s opening night, is both lyrical and democratic, full of moments when a corps dancer will stand out from the crowd. In the Boston performance, you notice a strong turn, a soaring jump. It’s like sunshine on water, a sparkle that lights up the dance without breaking its flow.
The London visit kicks off Boston Ballet’s 50th anniversary season, with two programmes showing off its dancers in works from Nijinsky’s 1912 L’Après-midi d’un faune to Jorma Elo’s 2004 Plan to B, created for this company. There’s also plenty of Balanchine, marking the company’s early links with the great Russian-American choreographer.
Serenade looks particularly good. The whole company show crisp execution and attack, with bright speed as they run through Balanchine’s winding patterns. The soloists are polished and individual. This is a diverse company, with international dancers and a mix of physical types, unified by a shared sense of style.
Japanese-born Misa Kuranaga is speedy and light, with a lofty jump and gleaming footwork. Lia Cirio, born in Pennsylvania, dances the “dark angel” role with bold attack, while Californian Ashley Ellis has lyrical presence in the “heroine” role. Jonathan McPhee conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a fine account of Tchaikovsky’s score, speedy but still romantic.
L’Après-midi d’un faune is both lush and angular, with sun-baked scenery by Bakst and Nijinsky’s angled Greek vase poses. This was a careful performance, with Altan Dugaraa as a sly faun to Lorna Feijóo’s wide-eyed Nymph.
Plan to B was created just before Jorma Elo became Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer, is fast but skimpy. Six dancers whip through gymnastic tugs and high jumps, driving themselves onwards. It’s both extreme and generic, showing a strong influence of William Forsythe, but the six soloists dance it with verve. Lia Cirio and Whitney Jensen are fearless as they tie themselves in high-speed knots.
The Stravinsky score for Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements is both perky and edgy, and so is the dancing. With neat leotards and swinging ponytails, the prancing dancers are half sporty charm, half fierce mechanism. Again, it’s a good showcase for the company’s range, with vivid soloist performances and sleek, speedy dancing from the corps de ballet.
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