Boston Ballet – Fall Experience
On October 5, 2023, Boston Ballet unveiled its 2023-24 season with a Fall Experience, presenting four distinct ballets from varied choreographers, including two world premieres. I had the fortune of attending this thought-provoking event with my usual ballet date, my 12-year-old son, Vincent. For those familiar with my ballet recaps, you’ll recognize a recurrent theme: the importance of introducing our children to the arts, offering them cultural enrichment and a unique education. Fall Experience runs through October 15th. So, seize the chance to take your kiddos to see the well-curated show with $40 tickets using code BBTIX40. With that in mind, let’s delve into Boston Ballet’s Fall Experience!
The inaugural performance, Bach Cello Suites, unfolded in a cocoon of silence, pierced only by the soft movement of dancers and the audience getting comfortable in their seats. But, just as the silence settled, the opera hall was filled with the warm and resonant notes being plucked from the onstage cellist. Dancers owned the stage against a deep blue backdrop reminiscent of twilight, moving with the effortless grace that has become expected of them. They make it look so easy they often prompt my whimsical fantasies of ordering toe shoes on Amazon and then moving en pointe through my kitchen while joyfully baking. But, their apparent ease on stage is a testament to their profound talent and dedication. So, rather than daydreaming about what would no doubt be a colossal Pinterest fail both with the dancing and baking, I relished the spectacle.
In Trois Gnossiennes, the second ballet, the theater was bathed in the expressive notes of a piano, providing a soundscape for a poignant piece that depicted the intricacies and harmonies found in evolving relationships. Movement told a narrative that any human could appreciate. Vincent enjoyed the stage-traversing piano flanked by observing but not dancing company members.
Form and Gesture, the third ballet and a world premiere by Boston Ballet’s My’Kal Stromile, was thoughtfully segmented into four exhibits (A-D), plus an innovative “intermission.” Toward the end of Exhibit B, principal dancer Derek Dunn, nonchalantly positioned as an audience member in plain clothes, observed the performance from a stage corner. When Exhibit B ended, Dunn, apparently overtaken by the emotion of the performance, broke into a solo dance during the faux intermission, accompanied by a recorded applause. (I couldn’t say I blamed him, considering my en pointe fantasies.) Vincent favored Exhibit C, intrigued by screens shaped like giant windows that altered the color of dancers’ silhouettes as they moved to and fro. I appreciated the Vegas flair and visually refreshing departure from the rest of the exhibits.
Our collective anticipation peaked with the fourth and final ballet, Vertical Road (Reimagined), – the 2023 World Premiere choreographed by the esteemed Akram Khan. Marking its debut on an American stage, each new company imbues Vertical Road with unique interpretations, lending to its world premiere status.
The piece was marked by its rhythmic bass, V-formations, and air thick with chalk dust; it excited and entertained both of us. Curious about that description? Well, if you were a teen and an MTV aficionado in the early ’90s, think of Janet Jackson’s iconic “If” and “Rhythm Nation” videos. Imagine dancers moving in unison, forming a formidable, cohesive unit—this encapsulates the vibe of “Vertical Road,” albeit with dashes of The Mummy, Indiana Jones, and Judgement Day. (Not the movie Judgement Day, but the actual apocalyptic are-you-going-to-heaven-or-hades day.)
In the piece, principal dancer Jeffrey Cirio defends himself against a group of angry persecutors, including principal dancer and Cirio’s real-life sister Lia Cirio, whose moves are as pointed and fierce as the deep base. And then there is the dust that occasionally shakes off shoulders and gets kicked up from the ground. Eventually, Cirio is left isolated on the stage. The piece culminates with dancers, now mere silhouettes behind a giant opaque curtain, extending their arms in a mixture of yearning, remorse, and still punishment toward Cirio. The ballet concluded with a literal and metaphorical curtain drop and a flash of light. It was pretty darn spectacular.
Vertical Road left me pondering the biblical passage, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Life is too short. We shouldn’t waste our time on judgment but instead focus on forgiveness, kindness, and understanding. I’m unsure if my interpretation was correct, but it was an education worth teaching a 12-year-old boy and definitely worth a trip to the ballet.
Boston Ballet’s Fall Experience runs through October 15, 2023. Use the code BBTIX40 for $40 off tickets to Fall Experience and other programs.
Buy your tickets HERE.