Boston Ballet’s “MINDscape”: The Fusion of Classical and Contemporary | Arts


The Boston Ballet pushed the boundaries of creativity with their show “MINDscape,” which ran May 5-15 at Citizens Bank Opera House. With a total of three unique numbers, “MINDscape” is truly a transformative experience featuring the world premiere of two original works by choreographers William Forsythe and Jorma Elo. After Forsythe’s “Blake Works I” in the first act, Elo’s “Ruth’s Dance” and Forsythe’s “Blake Works III” debuted. These exciting contemporary works not only captivated audiences with their novelty, but also with their groundbreaking fusion of classical and contemporary elements in ballet.

“MINDscape” offered Boston Ballet the opportunity to bring Forsythe’s “Blake Works I” back to a familiar scene in a post-COVID era. While the work’s world premiere took place in Paris in 2016, the Company had the North American premiere of “Blake Works I” in March 2019 at the Citizens Bank Opera House. This piece features 21 dancers dressed in light blue attire and contains seven sub-acts, each of which is set to a different electronic song by Grammy-nominated artist James Blake.

The first song, “I Need a Forest Fire,” opened with 20 dancers positioned in three neat lines, giving the illusion of traditional ballet. However, with the onset of contemporary music, dancers began to move in ways that challenged conventional styles, using their arms to create complex visuals in unison within small groups of dancers.

The second sub-act was a trio accompanied by Blake’s song “Put That Away and Talk To Me”, featuring Jasmine Jimison, Lawrence Rines and Haley Schwan. The choreography aligned extremely well with the title of the song, as it featured natural hand gestures and movements such as a shrug and facing the palm of the hand towards another’s face. dancer. The ease and familiarity of these expressions elicited laughter from the audience at the end of the play.

Two of these sub-acts were duets or, in ballet terms, pas de deux. The two duets, on the songs “The Color in Anything” and “FOREVER”, respectively, were notable for their contrast – dancers Lasha Khozashvili and Chrystyn Fentroy moved closer to each other while Lia Cirio and Patric Palkens s were kissing in another.

The next act was the world premiere of Elo’s “Ruth’s Dance”, which was dedicated to Elo’s mother and revolves around the theme of losing a loved one. The Boston Ballet Orchestra accompanied the dancers and performed several concertos for two pianos by JS Bach. Despite the presence of music from the Baroque era, the choreography and bright colors of the costumes still contained many contemporary elements.

“Ruth’s Dance” centered on partnership: two dancers wore purple, two wore dark blue, two wore pink, one wore black, and the others wore light blue. The vibrancy of these colors also enlivened the scene which served Elo’s vision of depicting joy everywhere. Obvious patterns emerged with a deliberate order of soloists and duets ranging from purple to dark blue to pink. Patric Palkens, the only dancer dressed in black, seemed to represent the darkness of death, and on several occasions his appearance marked the disappearance of other dancers from the stage. These details allowed Elo to create a memorable piece to commemorate his late mother who moved away from the simple seriousness usually associated with similar works.

The world premiere of “Blake Works III” was the most anticipated act of the evening. “Blake Works III” – the latest installment of Forsythe’s “The Barre Project”, which began as a film and was inspired by the constraints of Covid-19 – simulated Covid-era conditions, with each dancer having a limited access to others. The six dancers were given individual time with the barre in a way that defied convention, reflecting unconventional life during the pandemic. Instead of making heavy use of the stage, the dancers used the full length of the barre and the space around it to dictate their direction. The talent of each dancer was reflected in their lively and rapid movements.

One move from “Blake Works III” that particularly interested the audience was the projection of four bars. Returning to “Blake Works I” with the electronic song “Put That Away and Talk To Me”, this move was unique. Instead of featuring the dancers’ full bodies, only the hands on a bar were shown, leading the audience to pay attention to the intentional hand placements on each of these bars in the choreography. The use of technology in conjunction with dance moves was novel and successful in forcing audiences to sympathize with dancers in times of Covid.

“MINDscape” was truly a groundbreaking experience, balancing elements of traditional and contemporary ballet throughout. With the world premiere of two new pieces to add to the roster of existing ballet repertoire, “MINDscape” is innovative in that it takes audiences on an unexpected journey saturated with wonder and excitement.

—Editor Allison S. Park can be reached at [email protected]

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