|| The Guardian
|| July 4, 2013
|| Judith Mackrell
It's 30 years since Boston last performed in London, so for many of us it's effectively their first visit. In the company's opening programme, the revelation comes from seeing them in work by their resident choreographer Jorma Elo. In the past I've been unconvinced by Elo, finding his style tricksy and unmusical. But I've only viewed it on companies other than Boston - and with his home dancers, the style comes into natural focus.
Set to music by the virtuosic baroque composer Heinrich Biber, Plan to B is a blast of invention and speed. The shearing lines and precipitous partnerwork may be familiar tropes from the post- Forsythean school, but what's distinctive here is a baroque giddiness of detail: mini-whirlwinds of pirouettes, scrolling arms, jumps with spiralling embellishment. With a cast dominated by the ferociously fast and precise Jeffrey Cirio, the choreography is lifted to a pitch of joyous, near-spontaneous exultation.
Cirio, in partnership with Misa Kuranaga, is almost as fine in Symphony in Three Movements. This hot, hard, monumental setting of Stravinsky's 1945 score is shown frustratingly little in London, yet it is vintage Balanchine in its mix of jazzy athleticism, classical clarity and disturbing sensuality. Kathleen Breen Combes is a compelling fusion of grandeur and wantonness in the central pas de deux, but in disappointing contrast, the corps often display a lack of assertiveness, lacking collective conviction that this is a ballet they own.
The same is true of Serenade, with which the evening opens. The company dance this early Balanchine with a beguiling musicality and cohesion, but there's no frisson of danger or the sublime in the poetry of the final section. It's a classic carefully performed, and the same is true of Nijinsky's Faune; suggesting that Boston's second, more contemporary programme, which comes on Friday, may be the one to watch.