Kaleidoscope at Boston Ballet: Review

Do you remember looking through a kaleidoscope, and the pattern starts out one way and then changes slightly as you turn it, and then with another small turn you are zeroing in on something tiny and perfect and magical, and then you give another turn and the colors are changing and then whoompf, it’s a veritable explosion of color and patterns and brightness and movement?

Whoever named Boston Ballet’s current show, Kaleidoscope, absolutely nailed it.

The show consists of four works of “the most influential choreographic voices of the 20th century.” The first piece is George Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2, a fairly technical ensemble piece with two couples as soloists. I admit I didn’t quite “get” this piece, though it was interesting in its own way.

1.Boston Ballet in George Balanchine's Kammermusik No. 2 ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in George Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2 ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in George Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2 ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

This was followed by the lovely Pas de Quatre by choreographer Leonid Yakobson, a lovely, romantic work featuring four ballerinas. With their hands clasped so they form a circle, they constantly move in and among and through each other, forming intricate, interlinked patterns with their arms. It’s graceful and extremely well-coordinated. There’s constraint to this piece, but it’s not uncomfortable, and it reminded me of a white rose garden with lovely bowers. (I keep using the word “lovely” here but it’s fitting, trust me.)

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson's Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson’s Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson's Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson’s Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Next up — and ‘scuse me if I sat up straighter in my seat and downright grinned — was The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, William Forsythe’s critically acclaimed piece that premiered with the Boston Ballet last May (and I loved it then). With five dancers in purple and green costumes, this piece is fast, athletic, joyous, and free. It’s powerful, and between the choreography, the setting, and the costumes (the lily pad tutus!), what comes to mind are joy-crazed flowers. Very athletic, skilled, precise, and liberated joy-crazed flowers.

Ji Young Chae, Seo Hye Han, and Misa Kuranaga in William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Ji Young Chae, Seo Hye Han, and Misa Kuranaga in William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Seo Hye Han, Paulo Arrais, and Ji Young Chae in William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Seo Hye Han, Paulo Arrais, and Ji Young Chae in William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

What came next, to end the show, was the downright wild spectacle of Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne, “an effervescent ballet that evokes Moulin Rouge and Paris in the early 1900s.” Premiered in Berlin in 1938 (and made into a film in 1942, this piece takes place in an early-1900s Paris cafe (with a fabulous set, complete with lit-up Eiffel tower and a changing night sky). There are waiters, maids, “cocodettes” (“ladies of easy virtue,” according to the program), a baron, soldiers, a flower girl, a glove seller, a duke, and a lady. I might have left out a character or two; there was a lot going on. Besides the main plot (essentially, lots of flirtation and competition between the Austrian baron and the soldiers and such), there were several amusing vignettes taking place all over the stage — the billiards game, some tiff at a cafe table, a miffed waiter,and so on). And the costuming was an absolute explosion of color. Vivid shades of orange, red, green, yellow; polka-dots; stripes; hats, you name it. But I haven’t yet told you about the can-can. Yes, there are can-can dancers, too.

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Anaïs Chalendard and Paul Craig in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Anaïs Chalendard and Paul Craig in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Patrick Yocum in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Patrick Yocum in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

I’m sorry I can’t give you a photo of the explosion of color on the stage, but there’s no press photo of that. You’ll just have to go see for yourself! And here’s a video, too.

There are only a few days left to see Kaleidoscope, which runs March 17–26, 2016 at the Boston Opera House. Go this weekend.

Details: 

Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Friday, March 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Tickets start at $35. For more information, visit www.bostonballet.org or call 617-695-6955.

Disclosure: I was given press tickets to facilitate this review. All quotes are provided by Boston Ballet unless otherwise specified. 

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