The Dab of Donizetti and Celebrations of Spring: Boston Ballet’s Wings of Wax

It is hard to think about flying too close to the sun, when here in New England, the sun is still hiding and playing hard-to-get.  Inside the Boston Opera House, spring is in full bloom.  Boston Ballet’s latest show is a trio of ballets that begins with Balanchine’s spirited Donizetti.

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Donizetti was originally created for the New York CIty Ballet’s “Salute to Italy” a program created to celebrate Italy’s centennial Risorgimento (unification).  Balanchine’s program had some darker for somber pieces including Sonnambula and Momentum Pro Gesualdo so Donizetti was included to lighten the mood. Misa Kuranaga and Juxiong Zhou danced beautifully together.  Kuranaga is as delicate and vivacious as the bubbles in a glass of champagne and Juxiong Zhou was a steadfast partner.  The trios were beautiful and light and perhaps intentionally the dancers almost seemed to chase Gaetano Donizetti’s music.  If you look closely you will see that the dab actually began with Balanchine.

Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet’s Lia Cirio and Paulo Arrais in Jírí Kylián’s Wings of Wax photo by Rosalie O’Connor

 

 

 

Wings of Wax begins. The curtain goes up.  There is silence and then the entire audience gasps.  Even those of us who have seen it before fall in love with the image before them all over again.  The music is soul rattling and the dancing is perfect.  The movement feels so pure and it flawlessly melts into the the magic of scene floating on the notes of the violin.

This performance has a second intermission after Wings of Wax and you kind of absorb it all in over a glass of Champagne or a chat with your fellow audience members.  It is then followed by something completely different. Cacti is absurd and hilarious.  It pokes fun at this postmodern world and thought.  At the same time it asks you to seriously consider the world of dance and the life of a dancer.

Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet performing Alexander Ekman’s Cacti photo by Rosalie O’Connor

Wings of Wax has to be one of my favourite mixed bills.  It has a nice flow from piece to piece.  There is a common thread of simple beauty from set to lighting to costumes.  The “just right” amount of everything.  Boston Ballet’s dancers, seem to  have found their sweet spot this year.  With promotions, newcomers and departures, the company seems complete again.  I was particularly impressed with where Juxiong Zhou finds himself as a dancer.  His strength, jumps and partnering have come a long way in the past couple of years.  In addition, I noticed a new maturity in both Lawrence Rines and Irlan Silva’s dancing.  I loved  the parterning of Dusty Button and Paul Craig in Cacti.  Lia Cirio, Kathleen Breen Combes, Ashley Ellis and Sarah Wroth were in their element in Wings of Wax.  The music and movement, had me in tears within the first few phrases of Heirich von Biber’s Passacaglia for solo violin. In each of the pieces there was not a single dancer who seemed off or to fall short.  I found myself looking from stage left to stage right as another dancer caught my eye.

I feel like I always say this, but this program is really one  that you should go see if you are new to contemporary ballet.  The sets are simply beautiful, the music is gorgeous and the dancing is stunning.  I like when the music and dance support one another rather than compete as some contemporary pieces do.  Isabelle sat on the edge of her seat taking it all in.  That’s when I knew she was experiencing the same joy as I was.

All performances of Kylián/Wings of Wax take place at the Boston Opera House (539 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111):

  • Thursday, March 30 at 7:30 pm
  • Friday, March 31 at 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 pm
  • Sunday, April 2 at 1 pm

Tickets start at $35. For more information, visit bostonballet.org or call 617.695.6955.

Kylián/Wings of Wax is approximately two hours with two intermissions.

Donizetti Variations

Choreography: George Balanchine

Music: From Don Sebastian (1843) by Gaetano Donizetti
Lighting Design: David Hays
Set Design: David Hays
Costume Design: after Karinska

Wings of Wax

Choreography: Jiří Kylián
Music:
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber: Passacaglia for solo violin
John Cage: Prelude for Meditation for prepared piano
Philip Glass: Movement III from String Quartet No. 5
Johann Sebastian Bach: Variation No. 25, Adagio, in G minor, (arranged for string trio by Dimitri Sitkavetsky) from “Goldberg Variations”
Set Design: Michael Simon
Lighting Design:  Michael Simon (original), Kees Tjebbes (Oslo, 2008)
Costume Design: Joke Visser 

Cacti

Choreography: Alexander Ekman
Music: Joseph Haydn, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Andy Stein, Gustav Mahler
Set and Lighting Design: Tom Visser
Costume Design: Alexander Ekman
Text: Spencer Theberge

This revival of Alexander Ekman’s Cacti has received support through the Krupp Endowment for Contemporary Dance.

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