Boston Ballet gives angelic effort
Group masters premiere by Childs, works by Kylian, Forsythe
Even an adjective like ''dazzling" doesn't do justice to the program Boston Ballet performed last night, with works by Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, and Lucinda Childs. All three contemporary choreographers were born in the 1940s and, early in their careers, were enfants terribles. There was a time in the '60s and '70s when a ballet by any of them was something to be endured, an educational adventure.
It's all different now. Boston Ballet had previously performed -- successfully -- Forsythe's 1987 ''In the middle, somewhat elevated." Kylian's 1989 ''Falling Angels" and his 1990 ''Sarabande" were new to Boston dancers and audiences, and the Childs ''Ten Part Suite" was a world premiere, new to everyone.
Childs was one of the prime movers in the austerity phase of American modern dance. Her new work is both true to her signature style and far more luxuriant. Set to Corelli violin sonatas, ''Ten Part Suite" is in some ways beholden to Balanchine and in others, not. It is ''abstract," an increasingly amorphous term. In this case, it means no set, no costumes to speak of, no story, just dancing to a luscious score. Childs is labeled a ''modern" choreographer. But, like her predecessors in the field, she has a side that relates beautifully to pre-19th century music. ''Ten Part Suite" is about an orderly, aristocratic, hierarchical society, which is what the classical ballet canon was built on. And so Lorna Feijoo and Roman Rykine are the lord and lady of the ballet, but there is no tiara-wearing to interfere with the real content, which is steps to music.
Childs is a choreographer, of course, but also well-versed in visual arts and music. Hence the gorgeous patterning in this new work and the intimate link with the music. The configurations of the ensemble are fresh and clean, choreography that is a Euclidean equivalent, choreography that doesn't need to sell itself.
The two Kylian works pit the power of men against women in extremely convincing terms. ''Sarabande," set to Bach, is a dance for men with bell-skirted women's dresses hovering over them, an idea open to multiple interpretations. In the companion piece, ''Falling Angels," with a typically repetitive score by Steve Reich, eight women demonstrate that they are, indeed, transcending the human world.