Arts ballet review

A potpourri of performances in Boston Ballet’s Mirrors

Four contemporary dances showcase the extent of the company’s versatility

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Lia Cirio and Eris Nezha of Boston Ballet in Norbert Vesak's Belong
Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet


Boston Ballet

Boston Opera House

Running through May 28

Boston Ballet’s final performance of the season might be ideal for a certain audience — fans who already know what amazing things the company can do with classical ballet and want to explore the full versatility of its dancers. The contemporary choreography utilizes well the range of abilities of the performers.

Long shadows flicker across the stage in the opening dance, “Resonance.” The most classically-influenced dance of the program, “Resonance” features a pair of duelling pianos playing Liszt and a range of techniques from classical ballet. Massive panels of gray fabric are constantly shifting across the stage, hiding and revealing myriads of dancers, engaging the audience visually.

The best of Boston Ballet are on display in “Belong,” the second piece of the Mirrors program. A breathtaking pas de deux, “Belong” exhausts the well of its dancers’ strength and flexibility. For nearly ten minutes, Lia Cirio and Eris Nezha hypnotize the audience to the minimalist, transcendental sounds of electronic music group Syrinx.

The pas de deux has an impressively broad range of moves. The spins and lifts are mostly unique, and the variety easily keeps you on the edge of your seat. The dancers also use the entirety of the stage well, flowing around and often separating before returning to each other, almost pulsating with movement.

Near the midpoint of the piece, Cirio and Nezha completely steal the program — Nezha casually throws Cirio into the air, then catches her on his upper arms as she’s doing a full split. The sequence is almost unbelievable in its difficulty, yet its execution is effortless. To me, that’s what ballet means — making the challenging and extraordinary look easy.

Donned with white corsets, the female dancers of “Smoke and Mirrors” are meant to look like they’re post-pregnant. But what makes these costumes most unique are straps that flare out of the sides, handles by which the dancers are carried and swung by their male counterparts. The increased range of motion provided by the corsets is enchanting, and you never quite get used to it.

I would never have imagined that the Miles Davis jazz piece “Bitches Brew” could be choreographed for Boston Ballet. The song sounds like an exotic and incomprehensible jungle of noise, and the distinctive choreography captures that madness and dissonance. Up-and-coming soloist Ji Young Chae kicks ass as the lead dancer. She has the stage to herself in the opening and closing of the dance, and she hits her movements as hard as the band hits its cacophonous notes. A veritable force on the stage, she brings spunk and versatility to the company. Given her promotion from corps to soloist last summer, it seems that her talents are not going unnoticed.

Mirrors runs through May 28.