Not Your Grandmother’s Ballet This Season at Boston Ballet

Photo via Boston Ballet The Boston Ballet’s spring season opened Thursday night with the vibrant elegance of Edge of Vision. As the first of two shows under the company’s spring theme of “perception,” the three-part performance left little to be desired. Surrounded by the opulence of the Boston Opera House, Edge of Vision countered the ambiance of the theater with a minimalist set design.

As the heavy scarlet curtain rose for the first time, the audience was met with Eventide. Originally premiered in 2008, Helen Pickett’s choreography returned with musical accompaniment by Philip Glass with a new incorporation of the late Ravi Shankar’s work. The musical pairing of Glass’s classical, minimalist style and Shankar’s sitar-infused compositions were a perfect fit for the opening performance. Pickett eased the enraptured audience into the 2 hour show with movements that were equal parts traditional and contemporary dance. With its simplistic backdrops of deep red, black, and navy, it was immediately evident that this would be a major departure from the traditional ballet decadence of silk, stiff tutus, and detailed scene changes. Where some ballets force the dancers to compete with the costume and set designers, Edge of Vision set the focus unfalteringly on the lithe, skillful limbs of the dancers themselves.

The second act was a highly anticipated world premiere for Boston Ballet’s award-winning resident choreographer Jorma Elo, entitled Bach Cello Suites. The curtain rose to reveal Sergey Antonov at the cello under a single spotlight. With each masterful drag of his bow, Antonov commanded the attention of the audience. As dancers filled the stage, this time in solid black leggings, t-shirts, and leotards, their movements seemed compelled by the single instrument at stage left. Also in contrast to a more traditional ballet, which appears to include synchronization for aesthetic purposes, the dancers in Bach Cello Suites performed with an interconnectedness that suggested a symbiosis between them. During a pas de deux, each outstretched arm, soundless leap, and demi-pointe step of a ballerina appeared to cause a reciprocal movement from her male counterpart. This cause-and-effect type of movement gave the impression that translucent cords connected each partnering, and these tensile wires were in turn controlled by the solemn melody of the cellist. Before the conclusion, Elo delighted the crowd with a 3 minute solo.

Lila York’s Celts served as both the final act and finale of Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen’s Edge of Vision. Where the show had so far possessed qualities of deep reflection and solemnity, Celts evoked a lively juvenescence. Lighthearted Irish music filled the theater while smiling dancers worked speedy entrechats and long-winded fouettés. The attire for this portion was the most elaborate of the three, but was still comprised of only moderately embroidered long-sleeved dresses the color of new spring grass and other earthy-toned costumes reminiscent of Ireland and nature. York’s choreography was upbeat and joyful, with elements of maypole dances, European folk festivals, and medieval strength.

Edge of Vision runs from April 30—May 10. Tickets available via Boston Ballet Box office, 539 Washington Street, Boston, MA or online at