After the predominantly heritage ballets of its first programme, Boston Ballet’s second mixed bill focused on the work of contemporary dance makers. It was an impressive snapshot of international choreography from the past 25 years, all plotless ensemble ballets, including the American William Forsythe, the British Christopher Wheeldon and the Czech Jiria Kylia. The choice suggests that Helsinki-born company artistic director of ten years Mikko Nissinen is focused on key international trends, with the performance of the three works catching the essence of their makers. The least successful of an otherwise strong evening was the company’s dancing of William Forsythe’s The Second Detail. Originally made in 1991 for the National Ballet of Canada, it is signature early Forsythe, with his trademark exaggeration of ballet’s harmonies into a show-off display of witty, technical wizardry.
A scene from Boston Ballet Programme 2 at the Coliseum, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
However, while the cast performed Forsythe’s athleticism with flair, they were less good at his choreographic observation that ballet is not the pretty, floaty art form of popular imagination but a tough and glittering show-case of skill and daring.
The company were more assured in Christopher Wheeldon’s mesmerising Polyphonia, which he made for New York City Ballet back in 2001. It is set to Gyorgy Ligeti’s shimmering compostions, and the dancers exactly captured the spirit of the thistle-down softness of the steps. Jiri Kylian’s more densely texture Bella Figura closed the evening. Although plotless, the piece implies intense emotions that the Boston Ballet dancers ably conveyed.
Overall, the company’s short visit - its first for 30 years - reveals the company to possess fine dancers and a confident director.