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Wang Theatre, Boston, MA
February 12–15, 2009
Reviewed by Theodore Bale
Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet. Kathleen Breen Combes and Sabi Varga in No More Play.
The dances are highly virtuosic, combing the discipline of classical ballet, the expressivity of modern dance, and even the ancient wisdom of yoga. Throughout, the dancers wear simple black or white costumes by Kylián and designer Joke Visser. A series of long, formal gowns float through as either props, sets (cleverly mounted on wheels), or intermittent costumes. The only other props are simple icons: sword foils, heavily powdered wigs, and a green apple.
As the title suggests, the movement constantly presents some form of polarity: male and female, comic and tragic, historical and futuristic, ensemble and soloist, decorative and plain. With each viewing, yet another binary idea emerges, making these dances infinitely fascinating. No More Play, set to Webern, is a challenging opener. It bears some relationship to Balanchine’s often literal treatment of serial music (for instance, a phrase of atonal pizzicatos gives way to a set of odd little quick jumps). At one point, Larissa Ponomarenko stands on Boyko Dossev’s calf while he sinks into a lunge not unlike the yoga “warrior” poses––simply breathtaking. Petite Mort uses passages from two Mozart piano concertos to unite large groups of men and women, then breaks them out into a lengthy series of intimate pas de deux. In Sarabande, Yury Yanowsky offers a sexualized, serpentine solo wearing only white trunks and a pair of black pants pulled down around his ankles. His spine resembles a vacuum-cleaner cord being snapped back into its casing. Falling Angels is a daunting women’s dance that delves into Steve Reich’s method of phasing seamlessly from one idea to another, set to an excerpt from Reich’s classic “Drumming.” The slapstick finale, to Mozart’s charming “Sechs Tänze,” brings comic balance to the evening through layers of hilarious and magical illusions. Jared Redick, his powdered wig leaving a trail of dust across the stage, was the petit-allegro Pierrot, deceivingly simple and charming despite the intricate challenges of his role.