|| Patriot Ledger
|| October 29, 2009
|| Iris Fanger
Welcome to the glittering entity that has overtaken the familiar Boston Ballet, which opened its razzle-dazzle “World Passions” program Thursday night with a new generation of dancers taking the spotlight.
Not since the early days of the company under founder E. Virginia Williams has such a varied group of works shared an evening; however, current artistic director Mikko Nissienen, has banked the talent to back up his ambitions.
The curtain opened to an inconsistent corps de ballet running to keep up with the rum-te-tum score of the first installment in the performance “Paquita,” but then the necessary adrenalin kicked in, especially when Lorna Feijoo and her cavalier, Nelson Madrigal, entered. Ballet master Pino Aloso, who staged this portion, must have reminded Madrigal that Nureyev made his debut in the West in the same role because our dancer took off on a tear through his demanding solos, shaping his body in the air into the curved comma-shape of the super- star and never looked back to his former appearances. It’s by far the best accounting we’ve had of Madrigal since his arrival in 2003. Feijoo, his wife in real-life, gave no less a splendid performance, crossing the “I’s” and the “T’s” of her classical technique, including 32 fouettes (I’m not the only one who was counting). The pas de trois, centered by the doll-like Erica Cornejo, was book-ended by Pavel Gurevich, of the perfectly beating feet, and Jaime Diaz. Newly promoted principals Melissa Hough, Misa Kuranaga and Kathleen Breen Combes, joined by soloist Lia Cirio, made glimmering impressions in their solos, particularly Combes in a series of split- legged jumps that propelled her swiftly from stage right to left.
Keep in mind the names of Cirio and Combes, plus soloist Sabi Varga, for their transformations later in the program.
Helen Pickett’s world premiere, “Tsukiyo,” with music by Arvo Part, one of the most distinctive works to now join the troupe’s repertory, featured Varga as a latter-day prince, come upon his just- waking Sleeping Beauty, Cirio, released from the prison of a cumbersome court dress into some sort of wondrous creature of ever- twining tendril arms and legs. She appeared fragile yet fearsome, clinging but keeping her space and herself intact. After Varga entered her lair by peeking through the huge, shimmering purple curtains hiding her, he hardly dared touch her until she gave permission. In contrast, Viktor Plotnikov’s teaser of a pas de deux, “Rhyme,” set to cello and piano music by Chopin, showed off a unisex pair, Heather Waymack and Altan Dugaraa, in flashes of light hop-scotching through the darkened stage.
I suspect it was fair to name Jorma Elo’s “Carmen/Illusions” a world premiere because the work has been totally changed since its first showing in 2006 when many critics voted thumbs down. Elo has learned how to tell a story since then, and cleaned up the details, to give each segment of the characters, including a potent male corps, a specific task in propelling the sad tale forward. Combes portrays the immoral and immortal Carmen; Cirio, the wronged woman, Mikaela; Varga, the celebrity-Toreado. A passionate, down-trodden Yury Yanowsky makes Don Jose into a pitiful creature. The effect of these brilliant performances, including the sharply focused work of the men’s corps, coupled with Elo’s pointed rethinking of the plot line, finally make this work worthy to join his abstract ballets.
If your image of the Boston Ballet is stuck in memories of the Little Swans and a large Nutcracker, it’s past time to catch up on what Nissinen has been up to in his quest for the new, the trendy, but beyond the striking theatrical experience.
WORLD PASSIONS@Performed by the Boston Ballet continuing with cast changes through Nov. 1 at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston. www.bostonballet.org.