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Fancy Free. Isaac Akiba, Patrick Palkens and Paul Craig. Credit: Rosalie-O’Connor

Dance Review: Boston Ballet at the NAC—until 11.09.19

By Madeline Paiva on November 8, 2019

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Boston Ballet’s tremendous triple bill runs at the National Arts Centre until November 9th. The program includes Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, Paulo Arrais’ ELA, Rhapsody in Blue, and William Forsythe’s Blake Works I.

Fancy Free is a fun jazz piece accompanied by the NAC Orchestra. The three male dancers are dressed in white sailor uniforms and the set is an old-timey bar, complete with a bartender. The movements are as crisp and clean as their white uniforms are. The dance is a friendly competition between three friends over women, who should pay for drinks, who is the better dancer, and who can flick their paper ball the furthest. The men compete for the attention of one woman, and then later compete again for the attention of two women.

The movements are as crisp and clean as their white uniforms are. The dance is a friendly competition between three friends over women, who should pay for drinks, who is the better dancer, and who can flick their paper ball the furthest.

The best moment is their dance showcase to see who “deserves” the two available women. The first dancer does a lot of grand jetes, along with flips that turn into the splits. The second incorporates a lot of slides and footwork. Watching him leap over the barstools is a hilarious and memorable moment. The last sambas with himself in a more romanticized style. The dance is comical and competitive and a nice way to start the triple bill!

Kathleen Breen Combes with Artists of Boston Ballet. Credit: Rachel Neville Photography

ELA, Rhapsody in Blue is an absolute vision. Arrais does such a beautiful job of showcasing women’s experience with a space for rich interpretation.

ELA, Rhapsody in Blue is an absolute vision. Arrais does such a beautiful job of showcasing women’s experience with a space for rich interpretation. I found myself paying very close attention to the minute details. I pondered the title of the piece—in Portuguese, which Arrais speaks, ela means she. The dance begins with a single woman on stage, dressed in white. She looks very Giselle-like, beautiful and innocent.

Thirteen male dancers enter in tuxedos, without shirts underneath. After a bit of dancing, another man, in a tuxedo with a white undershirt, enters downstage right and takes off his jacket. ELA tries intently to approach him, but the other men drag her away from him. There is a soft seduction as the two attempt to get closer. They finally meet and the rest of the men move to the back of the stage and turn their backs. What begins as a beautiful unity turns abusive, with him forceful and her unwilling.

In my own interpretation as nine of the men form a line in front of her, she seems to be pregnant (nine men, nine months). And a man, in white pants, is carried to the front of the line, perhaps representing his birth. ELA and this child have very tender moments as he grows up. There is such a gorgeous presentation of strength and resilience at moments of misfortune and abuse. ELA dances again beautifully and powerfully to close off the number. I had a revelation at the end of the dance where I wondered if there was any significance that the abusive man was dressed in a white undershirt, commonly referred to as a wife-beater. His clothing is as much a part of his identity as his actions.

Roddy Doble and Chyrstyn Fentroy. Credit: Angela Sterling

Blake Works I is choreographed to James Blake’s 2016 album “The Colour in Anything.” This piece is phenomenal! The female dancers wear light blue dresses and the male dancers wear light blue ankle-length leotards. It begins with “I Need A Forest Fire” and is very much like a traditional ballet. The dancers fluctuate between being en pointe and not, with fluid movements and symmetrical form.

The stage goes dark, “Put That Away And Talk To Me” begins to play and the dancing turns more contemporary. There are two women and one man; the women look like ballerinas in music boxes. The movement is more rigid and each dancer’s pose changes to the clapping of the song. “The Colour In Anything” is made up of two dancers, and is a very sensual and fluid classical ballet to the gentle piano score. The two are very close and graceful, with the man often supporting the woman’s movements, whether they be physical lifts, turns, or leg lifts. The line “I can’t always love you” has the two separate gently. “I Hope My Life-1-800 Mix” is very angular contemporary that feels so true to William Forsythe. The dance has such a chaotic quality, but it is ever so coherent and elegant. The best way to describe it is bouncy!

Forsythe keenly focuses on lines (both the lines of bodies and linear formation on stage) and Boston Ballet absolutely nails it—the formation is perfect through the entirety of the ballet.

Forsythe keenly focuses on lines (both the lines of bodies and linear formation on stage) and Boston Ballet absolutely nails it—the formation is perfect through the entirety of the ballet. “Waves on Shores” leads the dance to a more classical and regal form, complimenting the very delicate song. In “Two Men Down,” the dancers take up a lot of the space on stage with the choreography really attune to space and how to use it effectively. The piece ends with “f.o.r.e.v.e.r.” It was so intricate, with its two (one female, and one male) dancers in synch with perfect lifts and holds. In all honesty, I was in tears at this moment.

Boston Ballet performs this entire triple bill so perfectly in figure, form and technique. It would be shame to miss out!


Boston Ballet performs their triple bill at the National Arts Centre November 7th-9th at 8pm on the Southam Hall Stage. The performance runs approximately 2 hours including intermissions. Tickets are available here and range from $31-$127. Half-price student tickets and $15 Live Rush are available for this performance.


 

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