Contemporary ballet

Contemporary Ballet Spellbound Brings ‘The Four Seasons’ to Boston

The show begins with the sounds of spring, those of the chirping of birds and the gentle trickling of water. Two dancers appear, walking skeptically down a hallway of light toward the only stage setting, a house-like structure lit by videos of nature.

The trees are growing at an accelerated rate, sunlight shining through the branches. Hands come out from inside the house, forcing the dancers to enter before the video of the performance on the computer screen went dark.

Mesmerizing contemporary ballet premiered artistic director Mauro Astolfi’s “Le Quattro Stagioni” (“The Four Seasons”) in Italy in 2010 and has since performed this work on tour in Israel, Thailand, Germany, France and Korea.

This weekend (October 16-17), the Rome-based company of nine dancers will finally perform the piece for American audiences, only in Boston at the Citi Shubert Theater as part of Boston’s Celebrity Series.

Spellbound Contemporary Ballet performing “The Four Seasons”. (Mateo-Carratoni)

The sounds of nature transform into instantly recognizable melodies from Vivaldi’s masterpiece, and the dancers playfully exit the house. The music is classical, but there is not a pointe shoe in sight.

Astolfi “manipulates classic elements and places them in a contemporary take,” company director Valentina Marini said in a Skype interview. “It’s a way to have more freedom on stage.”

The collaboration of sound and video authenticates the experience of nature, and just as the viewer seems to slip into a reflective state, Vivaldi’s energetic rhythms draw attention to the complex movements of the dancers.

Spellbound debuted in Boston with the Celebrity series in 2013, a program that received a Mixed review by Thea Singer of the Boston Globe.

Feedback from audience members has been positive enough to merit the company’s return, according to Gary Dunning, president and executive director of the Celebrity series. In an email interview, he said, “We’re obviously bringing back artists and ensembles that resonate with our audience or have a broader performance vocabulary and scope that they haven’t shown in Boston yet. “

Marini believes “Le Quattro Stagioni” offers an experience beyond the abstract movement of the company’s first appearance here. “There’s a lot of interaction with the extra ingredients like the videos and the sets,” she said, “so the action of the dancers, the choreography itself, is really different.”

The impact of the work depends on the sum of its parts, but Marini said the setting is “the guiding line of the show. It is something that has a life and changes position all the time. Indeed, the house seems to both restrict and encourage the interactions of the dancers, adding to the complexity of the work’s aesthetic.

Marini said she believed complexity was what audiences wanted to see.

“That’s why I think it’s the right room,” she said, “because of the colors of the room, because of the atmospheres, because of the vibe that changes from season to season. the other.”

Winter is the last season, and the scene seems to emanate from coldness. The women shield their mouths with the collars of their jackets as they walk backwards in the darkness. A woman is left behind in a dimly lit hallway, a shadow of what lit up the scene in the opening scene.

His intention is left to the imagination, as is the disappearance of the other dancers.

“It’s not just nature,” Marini said. “The seasons can have a different meaning in each of us – the seasons of life, the seasons of age.” The challenge, she explains, is to “read behind the lines, behind the lighting effects and the videos and the rest” to find in oneself the meaning of the work.

Lawrence Elizabeth Knox is a journalism major at Boston University’s College of Communication. Before going to college, she was a professional ballet dancer with Tulsa Ballet. She can be contacted at [email protected].