Mixed Bill: Boston Ballet’s Robbins/The Concert

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Boston Ballet in Jerome Robbins’ The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody); photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet

I love a clean and pure Balanchine piece and that is what Robbins/The Concert opens with.  I also love the New Yorker cartoonesque nature of The Concert as well. However, I didn’t love this mixed bill by Boston Ballet.  As I often do, I received tickets to Robbins/The Concert for review and I would still recommend going to see Robbins/The Concert I just didn’t love it in its entirety.  My experience may differ from yours.  I didn’t love all three pieces and I usually am swept away by each performance.  I like how Balanchine plays with music and the spotlight is on the movement itself and I loved some of Jorma Elo’s piece, and if you have never seen The Concert you must go.  The Concert is absolutely wonderful and Boston Ballet, especially when Ashley Ellis is dancing the role of The Ballerina, does a fantastic rendition from before the first piano note to the final bow.

Robbins/The Concert opens with Stravinsky Violin Concerto.  The music is beautiful and, as a former violinist I have a soft spot for the violin, and the movement isn’t buried under costumes and sets.  Balanchine’s piece is light and playful.  It is a cross between recess and a ballet class to put it crudely.  The simplicity of the staging, lighting and costumes make it easy to take in and enjoy, but I wanted a little more brightness an lightness in the dancing.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but perhaps it is the end of a long season and the overlap of two shows playing at once that left me wanting a little bit more.  A few of the dancers that really stood out for me though, in addition to the soloists, Maria Baranova, Paul Craig, Kathleen Breen Combes and Paulo Arrais, were artists Brett Fukuda, Dawn Atkins, Alec Roberts and Desean Taber.  When you find yourself looking to the back of the stage because of a particular dancer, you know that the technique is being highlighted along with a soulful joy and stage presence that not every dancer has. Brett Fukuda, Dawn Atkins, Alec Roberts and Desean Taber were all able to do that.

I was looking forward to the World Premiere of Jorma Elo’s Creatures of Egmont and  within minutes I began to write off the piece.  I didn’t like the opening at all, as it felt directionless and vague.  Then the music switched and my attention was piqued.  Fantasia & Fuge in g minor, BWV 542, Schumann filled the opera house with its solemn sound and the dance was full of unique patnering and beautiful images created by the dancers on stage.  I love seeing Lia Cirio, Misa Kuranaga and Dusty Button on stage together because they rarely dance opposite one another and they are all ballet stars in their own right each with a unique aesthetic to their movement.  I am not as familiar with Maria Baranova who is also a beautiful dancer and caught my attention in Stravinsky Violin Concerto as well as Creatures of Egmont.  Second soloist Addie Tapp, held her own on stage next to these veteran dancers as she has stunning technique and movement, but lacked a stage presence and expressivenes.  I look forward to seeing Tapp develop as a performer and she will be one to watch.  As Creatures of Egmont evolved it grew on me and I think I would love to see it again because the music and movement tell an interesting “story” once it gets going.

The icing on the cake is The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody) a ballet choreographed by Jerome Robbins that premiered in 1956 at New York City Ballet.  From the first step to the last leap, the audience is giggling.  A wave of titters kept going back and forth throughout the house from the littlest giggle to the deepest guffaws.  The familiarity of each characature portrayed on stage allows every member of the audience to relate to the piece.

So, this mixed bill gets mixed reviews, but even if you don’t love a little part here or there, the performance as a whole is worth it.  Not to mention that this, is the last chance to see Boston Ballet this season. So I’d say, take a chance and go see it because at very least you will love The Concert and at best you will see a pristine Balanchine Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and perhaps all of Creatures of Egmon will resonate with you.

All performances of Robbins/The Concert take place at the Boston Opera House
(539 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111):

  • Thursday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 14 at 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 21 at 1 p.m.
  • Friday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 27 at 1 p.m.

Tickets start at $35. For more information, visit Boston Ballet or call 617-695-6955.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

  • Choreography: George Balanchine
  • Music: Igor Stravinsky: Violin Concerto in D Major
  • Lighting Design: John Cuff

Creatures of Egmont

  • Choreography: Jorma Elo
  • Music: Ludwig van Beethoven: Overture to The Creatures Of Prometheus, Op. 43
  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasia & Fugue in g minor, BWV 542
    (arranged for orchestra by Dmitri Mitropoulos)
  • Robert Schumann: Fugue No. 6 from Six Fugues on the Name B.A.C.H., Op. 60 (arranged for string orchestra by Paul Angerer)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
  • Costume Design: Robert Perdziola
  • Lighting Design: John Cuff

The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody)

  • Choreography: Jerome Robbins
  • Music: Frédéric Chopin, arranged by Clare Grundman
  • Set Design: Edward Gorey
  • Costume Design: Irene Sharaff
  • Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton
  • Lighting Recreation: John Cuff

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