Boston Ballet does ‘Play with Fire’ and audiences feel the heat

Whiteside did not get burned when he played with fire.

Boston Ballet takes a break from story ballets and hits the stage with contemporary techniques in “Play With Fire.”

The opener — “Sharper Side of Dark” may look somewhat familiar, but at the same time, very different. Resident choreographer Jorma Elo has “remixed” his initial work “Sharp Side of Dark” to reflect his personal growth as a choreographer. Lighting continues to play an important role as well as the power of silent choreography.

Back by popular demand, Jirí Kylian’s “Bella Figura,” is simply breathtaking. Rie Ichikawa leads with grace beyond words as her body is in constant fluidity and she creates quiet intimacy within the grandness of The Opera House stage. If you haven’t seen it, buy tickets now. If you saw it last season, don’t pass up the chance to see it again.

Boston Ballet literally lets their hair down with Christopher Bruce’s “Rooster.” Comprised of eight Rolling Stones songs from the early ’60s, the piece is a throwback to the sociology of the times. With the men in colored ruffled tuxedo shirts, ties, and velvet blazers and the women in black and red frocks, it’s fast, flirty, fun and seductive (“As Tears Go By,” “Paint It Black”). But, its quick pace, short song format is almost too quick and leaves audiences wanting more. The ticket holder next to this reporter complained that it reminded him too much of “Solid Gold.”

The standout of opening night goes to James Whiteside who performed all three works. He continues to impress audiences with his sharp technique and artistic expression. He’s perfectly cast as the lead “rooster” in the final work.

On their own, all three ballets were executed brilliantly — but as a package, the Stones work just didn’t jive with the previous two.


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