Arts ballet review

Misa Kuranaga takes flight in spring premiere of Swan Lake

Another season, another performance of timeless Tchaikovsky ballet

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Ashley Ellis and Eris Nezha in Mikko Nissinen's Swan Lake.
Rosalie O'Connor

Boston Ballet

Boston Opera House

Running through May 26

Misa Kuranaga defies most conceptions of classical ballerinas. At 5-foot-1-inch, she looks diminutive on the stage of the Boston Ballet, but she packs everything into one small figure — as the star of Swan Lake, she’s expressive, elegant, and versatile.

Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake is one of the most universally recognized ballets. Prince Siegfried falls in love with the White Swan, Princess Odette, who has been cursed by the sorcerer Baron von Rothbart to be a swan forever, until a man pledges his love to her. Von Rothbart, however, tricks Siegfried into pledging himself to Rothbart’s daughter, the Black Swan Odile. There are many versions of the final act of Swan Lake — in Boston Ballet’s interpretation, the ending is tragic for both heros and villains.

Kuranaga is wonderful at capturing the frail, tormented, hauntingly beautiful White Swan in the second act, yet is able to quickly switch to the energetic, coquettish Black Swan for Act III. The most striking sequence in the ballet, which is known for being lengthy and technically challenging, is the 32 fouettes (whip turns) by Kuranaga in the third act, as the Black Swan.

Gonzalo Garcia, who is a principal dancer from New York City Ballet, co-starred alongside Misa Kuranaga as Prince Siegfried. He only had two performances with Kuranaga, on Friday and Saturday night, but the two were perfectly matched.

Principal dancer Lasha Khozashvili towers above the rest of the cast as von Rothbart. His strength and athleticism seem to be at the bounds of human achievement, as he is able to propel his massive figure with feather-like ease.

Khozashvili displayed a stunning moment of professionalism at the beginning of the second act. As the curtain lifted, revealing the nighttime lake, and mist flooded toward the audience, Khozashvili bounded onto the stage, only to slip and fall badly. But his recovery was immaculate — in a split second, he was on his feet and flying around the stage in a difficult series of grand jetes. Audience members did not even have time to react to the error before he recovered. The determination and ability of Khozashvili is a testament to the Company and to professional dancers.

The all-Asian Pas de Trois was the most refreshing part of the first act. Junxiong Zhao, Seo Hye Han, Ji Young Chae, all young and rising dancers who have joined Boston Ballet within the last few years, were vivacious and energetic. Expect to see a lot more of them in the future.

Swan Lake runs through May 26.