Complicated Rhythm


American Festival II

The Boston Ballet

at the Wang Center (T. Boylston)

April 6-8 at 8 pm, April 9 at 2 pm

tickets: $12-62, $12 student rush 1 hr


before curtain

Following on the bright red heels of the extraordinary evening that was "American Festival I", the Boston Ballet's "American Festival II" offers a range of modern ballet experiences, not all of them satisfying.

First in the program, Eliot Feld's "Contra Pose" (1990) is nothing short of profound. It astounds by constantly merging and deconstructing different aspects of dance, creating a barrage of visual images that collide and regroup like highly-charged atomic particles.

Unlike many traditional ballets, Feld's piece shows not only the reality of what the dancers are supposed to represent, but also their existence as bodies on stage, as a reality in and of themselves.

Feld's choreography calls for the dancers to appear informally on stage to warm-up as the audience is being seated. This merging of representation and reality becomes a unifying force once the lights dim and the music starts.

To the complex rhythms of C.P.E. Bach's symphonies, 18 black-clad dancers constantly oscillate, literally and figuratively, between classical and new forms.

Their movements are in perpetual conflict. Traditional ballet positions are intermingled with unfamiliar forms. Rhythms are synchronized and instantaneously contradicted.

In one instance, women press their hands together as if in prayer, then proceed to turn them and place them over their heads in a portrait of bondage. The effect is disturbing.

The classically trained company's execution of Feld's challenge to traditional ballet is commendable, with minor exceptions. The dancers falter during Feld's complicated, highly rhythmic patterns, when they lose their sense of the sequences' purpose and break their connection to each other in the chaos.

These problems do not undermine the overwhelming power of "Contra Pose." This experiment in illusion and reality is a stunning development in dance that Feld enforces masterfully.

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