I had never heard of Jirí Kylián before the Boston Ballet‘s All Kylián performance. I also had no idea that, even after seeing the modern, fun and exceptionally executed Rooster, Second Detail, Awake Only fall program, the Boston Ballet could do such choreography justice.
I know I’ve said this before, but I first moved to Boston, I was so disappointed with the Boston Ballet’s performance. Maybe it was after years of being spoiled by amazing dance companies in Canada and both visiting and local New York companies, but I didn’t go back to see the Boston Ballet for years because of that first performance. I keep bringing it up because the Boston Ballet that exists today is so far beyond the old Boston Ballet. There is nothing they can’t do and they are proving it this year seamlessly going from Kylián one week and then back to the classics the next with Sleeping Beauty débuting on March 22nd and running through April 7th.
All Kylián starts with Wings of Wax (1997) which is a beautiful piece that flips the world upside down with the air at your feet and the earth above. The dancing is perfectly synchronized and syncopated with a unique mix of music from Philip Glass’s prepared piano to a classic Goldberg Variation.
The second piece Tar and Feathers (2006) brought the question to my mind: What makes a contemporary dance still ballet? Although completely modern in style, sentiment and staging, the dancing is still ballet. The movement may be off center but it is still held and not thrown. The use of the floor is also something I noticed as something the ballet dancers push into to go up, lift off, and seemingly fly, but not sink into. In a nutshell it’s the transfers of weight and the center of gravity that seems to be most distinct. Whatever it may be, Tar and Feathers had a beautiful trio that moved as one, and so many moving parts. Having the piano on stage as part of the piece was interesting and the dance itself brought out so much emotion and thought about the frailty of human beings with parts of Samuel Beckett’s What is the Word? seemingly echoing through the hall even after the curtains closed.
Lastly, Symphony of Psalms (1978) was beautiful danced to live choral music performed by members of the New World Chorale. Each dance made you think, and feel, without having to work at it. The music and movement of Symphony of Psalms has a very old world folk (or character) dance feel with a backdrop of woven Persian tapestries, and simple frocks as costumes. Whether it’s a reflection of your heritage or someone else’s you feel rooted in place and time.
All Kylián continues through March 17th, so if you want to catch it before it slips between your fingers, get tickets now. There are discounts for groups of 10 or more. Student discounts are also available.
I was a guest at this performance for opening night.