Home American fashion company ‘DREAMstate’ Review: Boston Ballet Explores Liminal | Arts

‘DREAMstate’ Review: Boston Ballet Explores Liminal | Arts


What does it mean to dream? What kinds of spaces can open up when we allow ourselves to travel deep within our psyche? These are the questions that came to mind while watching a performance of Boston Ballet’s latest work, “DREAMstate.” The show, which took place at Citizens Bank Opera House from March 17-27, included a triple program of three stunning contemporary ballets: George Balanchine’s 1976 ballet ‘Chaconne’, the world premiere of Stephen Galloway’s DEVIL’S/eye and “Bella” by Jiří Kylián in 1996. Figure. Each of the ballets was innovative in its own way, powerfully setting and subverting expectations while exploring themes of personality, liminality and the limits of consciousness.

Using the more conventional styles of “Chaconne” as a starting point for nocturnal exploration of self and one’s limits, “DREAMstate” establishes the ballet genre as both something to lean into and something that can be expanded. and reworked. Told through the incredible artistry and athleticism of its dancers, resplendent in their white costumes against a simple background, “Chaconne” is stunning – that cannot be disputed. But despite the innovative movement inherent in the choreography of “The Father of American Ballet”, the ballet can still be read as falling within the modern confines of the genre. That’s not to say the ballet isn’t compelling – it is, and the Boston Ballet company were stellar in their translation of the piece to the Citizen’s Opera House stage – but the night’s performances weren’t. only got more interesting from there.

While “Chaconne” forged a new understanding of classical ballet, “DEVIL’s/eye” and “Bella Figura” both lean towards something quite different. Each pushes the relationship between dance, music and aesthetics in search of new limits.

With “DEVIL’s/eye”, choreographer, dancer and costume designer Stephen Galloway creates an unforgettable ode to love, youth and joyous exuberance. Set to a selection of music from The Rolling Stones – for whom Galloway worked as a choreographer and creative consultant – the world premiere ballet is overpowered from start to finish. It’s as notable for its jaw-dropping aesthetic (the dancers, dressed in glittering, stripped-down ’80s gym-inspired outfits, danced in front of huge amp-like light fixtures) as it is for Galloway’s commitment. to break the mold of classical ballet. The Galloway dancers – led in part by Boston Ballet principal dancer and Harvard Dance Center’s John Lam – embodied both young lovers and freedom-seeking renegades, their movements unrestrained as they brought the songs to life timeless rock. It was pure, unbridled rock’n’roll. A painfully haunting pas de deux to “Wild Horses” with Lam and soloist Chisako Oga stood out amidst a universally strong ballet.

Closing the show, Kylián’s “Bella Figura” brought “DREAMstate”‘s ruminations on human consciousness and experience to their natural conclusion. Through its exploration of the body as a place of beauty, pain and genesis, “Bella Figura” manages to escape from the physical and audio-spatial limits of opera: a fire burns on either side of the stage, curtains become usable props, and half-naked dancers float through the air while others continue to dance for periods of extended silence so that the dancers’ own footsteps can be heard on the marley floor. Each carefully calibrated move weighed heavily on an already elated audience as the dancers navigated the various renaissance scenes that enliven the ballet, their costumes red as blood and designed with the physical contours of the body in mind. The result was a captivating and moving exploration of what it means to be alive and in constant conversation with oneself and others. The choreography was most effective when, Kylián-style, the dancers interacted with each other, spurred into movement by their partner’s touch at any given moment.

Critically, the exploration of human consciousness and the body (and its capacity for movement) in the three ballets is only heightened in their juxtaposition to each other. Each seeks to explore a different facet of human identity, and “DREAMstate” capitalizes on the resulting contrast. By forcing the audience to come to terms with the liminal spaces, those between the embodied joy of “DEVIL’S/eye” and the sober hauntings of “Bella Figura”, “DREAMstate” highlights the ambiguity of human consciousness, and the ability to such a consciousness to be captured through art.

—Arts Chair Sofia Andrade can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @BySofiaAndrade.