Neoclassical ballet

Boston Ballet’s ‘ChoreograpHER’ launches dances imagined by women

The Boston Ballet will put female artists at the center of its production”Choreographer(March 3-13), building on an initiative first launched in 2018. Five unique creators will world premiere the dance performances they have led, with each groundbreaking piece featuring a distinctive vision and voice . While female dancers are a big and important part of the ballet world, historically choreography has been led with a male figure at the front of the room, artist Lia Cirio said. As these female artists step into the spotlight through the presentation of their new works, Boston Ballet strives to affect culture by enabling others to step forward and shine.

‘Chaptered in Fragments’ | Lia Cirio

“Chaptered in Fragments” is set to music by four different composers: George Frideric Handel, Dmitri Shostakovich, Antonín Dvořák and Johannes Brahms. The piece features seven dancers, four men and three women, and Cirio described its style as “neoclassical, with those original arm movements”. The narrative of the dance comes from segments or chapters in Cirio’s life: she started choreographing in September 2020, after the pandemic lockdown. The process of trying to get back into society and being somewhat messy in dancing was disjointed and strange, she said, a feeling she drew on for the work she created. When she returned to the play in April 2021, she was in a different place in her life and wanted to reflect that evolution. Change is an important element of the dance, while Cirio recognizes that we must not forget where we come from. “I consider this chapter to be a complete experience,” she said.

Lia Cirio (left) and María Álvarez rehearsing for “ChoreograpHER”. (Courtesy of Brooke Trisolini/Boston Ballet)

Cirio said she’s excited about Boston Ballet’s questioning of norms and embracing diversity. As a half-Filipino dancer, she said she had no one to look up to growing up who looked like her. “I hope I can be that someone for this dreamy young ballerina, who might see me and think, ‘This is me. I can do this too,'” she said. go there, I think about it and hope to inspire someone.”

‘Kites’ | Shantell Martin

A visual artist by nature, Martin’s process of creating “kites” was particularly innovative. Thematically, the piece comes from the metaphorical and physical idea of ​​a kite being an object that is elevated, with both memories and nostalgia attached to it. With the challenges and negativity the world is currently experiencing, Martin wanted a performance that was fun and free. The ballet begins with everyone on the ground, as a group, and the characters begin to wake up, feel energy within themselves, and rise. It follows “the evolution of a day”, with bold, collective and linear movements.

Martin had never choreographed a piece before and his approach introduced experimentation. Going into rehearsals, she would have a list of words, such as colors and feelings. She put on music and asked the dancers to move in response to what was being presented; when she saw a move that resonated with her, she would stop the dancer and ask everyone to replicate it. Martin said that entering the dance world gave her confidence. “Part of my practice is to show people that whatever medium you go into, as long as you put your mind to it, it will look like you, it will look like you, it will look like you,” she said. . noted.

Shantell Martin rehearsing her play "kites" for "Choreographer." (Courtesy of Brooke Trisolini/Boston Ballet)
Shantell Martin rehearsing her piece “Kites” for “ChoreograpHER”. (Courtesy of Brooke Trisolini/Boston Ballet)

‘Starting point’ | Tiler’s prick

Set to music by Caroline Shaw, Peck’s vision for this six-person dance, “Point of Departure,” came from a story the composer told about an orange. The fruit is made up of individual sections that are each intricate and different from the next, and Peck’s opening tableau is loosely based on what an orange tree looks like, with vines intertwined around a core. As the dancers all gravitate towards a center, they begin to break away and have solos, duets and trios. There are moments of quick footwork in the adagio part of the music, while there is also a lovely pas de deux for the central couple. In the end, however, there is always a force that brings the dancers together. In a way, this piece is a “starting point” for Peck as a choreographer, since it is his first work for a major ballet company.

Peck had suffered a neck injury in 2019, which left him with the possibility of not being able to play again. “To be told that you’re never going to dance again and then come back nine months later, I’m grateful every time I can be on stage,” she said. “It means so much more to me, because there was a time when I didn’t know if it was going to be possible.”

‘Untitled’ | Claudia Schreier

The music for Schreier’s piece comes from composer Tanner Porter’s “Six Sides from the Shape of Us,” but the dance itself is yet to be titled. Schreier knew she wanted to find work with a living female composer, adding that the music had an arc that takes a listener “through all the colors of emotion and has happy swells, playful drumming and stabs you in the heart. “. As a choreographer, she drew inspiration from her training as a dancer, but the performance carries an ingrained sense of movement. The piece, which features 18 people, is about constant momentum and the coming together and breaking down of forms. Schreier was inspired by starlings, which have a unified identity within a group, but also find their own way. It includes works in partnership and duets, but it is more of an ensemble work, she said.

Claudia Schreier and the Boston Ballet rehearse for "Choreographer." (Courtesy of Brooke Trisolini/Boston Ballet)
Claudia Schreier and the Boston Ballet rehearse for “ChoreograpHER”. (Courtesy of Brooke Trisolini/Boston Ballet)

As a half-Jamaican, half-Jewish artist, Schreier said portraying women of color on stage is important to her and changing the culture in the world of ballet takes “dedication, perseverance and perseverance. “. “I didn’t grow up with flesh-colored tights. I remember trying to buy the deepest, most orange pink possible, and as soon as it went through the wash and started to lose its hue, I would ask my mom to buy me some new ones . It didn’t occur to me at the time why I craved those deep pinks, and now it all makes sense to me,” Schreier said.

‘Butterflies don’t write books’ | Melissa Toogood

“Butterflies Don’t Write Books” is a dance named after an essay by Mary Oliver, and in many ways reflects Toogood’s approach. When she works, she does not analyze and rather tries to open up to mystery, a way of freeing her mind. Toogood commissioned composer Jeff Klein to write new music, and it begins with the sound of a heartbeat. During the dance, the performers have short solos, and there is a sense of them as individuals, rather than a group acting in unison. Toogood has had a career in modern and contemporary dance, and this piece represents the first work she has choreographed for a major ballet company.

Melissa Toogood (center) and the Boston Ballet rehearsing her piece
Melissa Toogood (center) and the Boston Ballet rehearsing her piece “Butterflies Don’t Write Books” for “ChoreograpHER.” (Courtesy of Brooke Trisolini/Boston Ballet)

When Toogood first started planning the dance, she was working in a “little little room” in New York City during the pandemic, and she was feeling frustrated. In some ways, this feeling influenced his art. “That first solo really had steps that aren’t uncommon in ballet – tense and brushwork – but the emphasis is different and the sense of energy is very connected, held and pushed in a different way. It really came to hit my walls, literally. I wondered, what is it like to create more space in your mind, even if you don’t have actual physical space? »

Boston BalletChoreographeris performed at the Citizens Bank Opera House from March 3-13.