Boston Ballet Opens New Season

Boston Ballet’s 2010/11 season opened this past weekend with the fifth annual Night of Stars. The dance company performed past repertoires and previewed the season with excerpts from La Bayadère, Apollo, Le Corsaire, and Theme and Variations, among others. Due to the strike in France, guest artists Laëtitia Pujol and Alessio Carbone of Paris Opera Ballet were not able to make their scheduled appearance. New York City Ballet’s Wendy Whelan and San Francisco Ballet’s Damian Smith performed instead. The night’s event marked the beginning of the company’s second season at the Boston Opera House.

This year, nineteen new dancers joined the ranks of the company, hailing from Georgia, Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Ukraine, Australia, Japan, France, and across the United States. According to artistic director Mikko Nissinen, this season “will capture the range and high-level of artistry that Boston Ballet is proud to bring to our audiences,” with full-length story ballets and several contemporary programs.

From November 4th to 14th, the company will present Florence Clerc’s La Bayadère. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, it was first performed by the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1877. Many believe the ballet was created for Ekaterina Vazem, one of the stars of the Imperial Ballet, and was influenced by companies of authentic Indian dancers who toured Europe in the 1830s. Set in ancient India, La Bayadère tells a story of love, betrayal, and heartbreak. The production features new costumes designed by Sergiy Spevyakin and created by the Boston Ballet costume shop.

La Bayadère is a Romantic ballet, set in an exotic land, with pantomime scenes and cultural dances. As in most ballets choreographed in the late 1800s, it features supernatural female creatures intended to embody the feminine ideal: elegance and weightless grace. The scene The Kingdom of the Shades has been acknowledged as a bridge between the Romantic and Classical ballet periods. The Shades, ethereal beings, demonstrate pure classical technique and patterns on stage. This purity and structure contrasts with the Romantic period’s melodrama and tragic love triangles. The Kingdom of the Shades was the first piece of La Bayadère ever seen outside Russia, performed by the Kirov Ballet on tour in Paris in 1961.