If brevity is the soul of wit, could we just go ahead and make concision the core of dance? Saturday nights Boston Ballet showcase was two-and-a-half hours long. Granted two-and-a-half hours of remarkable movement both contemporary and traditional, but with two 15 minute intermissions, like a foot-long peanut butter, banana, and pickle sandwich, it was a lot to digest.
The creamy extra-delicious peanut butter bit was the Ballets excerpts from Swan Lake. Both pas de deux with Ukranian principal dancer Larissa Ponomarenko as the white swan and the chiseled Cuban, Lorna Feijoo, as the black swan were highlights of the evening. Of course, given that an exceptional ballerina, Ponomarenko, was performing an exceptional piece, we wouldnt have expect less.
The pickle or the pickler of the performance was Jorma Elos Break the Eyes. Using Mozart alongside what sounded like alien gibberish, Elo created a kind of eerie yet buoyant mixed tape of sound. I either thought it was about a war or a little girl with a deformity, was my friends response to the piece. Not quite sure where she got the deformity bit, but Elos choreography did allude to some kind of military situation, in which Ms. Ponomarenko, as the principal dancer, appeared to drill a company of otherworldly soldiers.
While Elos choreography was innovative, the piece itself seemed to never end. Without any kind of plot format, as some ballets do, it began to wear.
The final piece was the incomparable Twyla Tharps In the Upper Room. Set to a score by last years Spoleto poster boy Philip Glass, the dance was executed with jazzercise precision and looked the part too. Dancers in red leotards with red anklets and white sneaks back-peddled their hearts out. In the Upper Room debuted in 1986, which made me wonder if Ms. Tharp had not only licensed the choreography but also her original costuming. Ultimately the piece was startling and the pas de trios of shirtless Bradley Schlagheck, Joel Prouty, and Raul Salamanca was filled with fierce enthusiasm. By the time they took their curtain call, I was exhausted.
Like too much of a good thing, sometimes too much of too many good things is a problem. Ultimately, I would have enjoyed just eating a banana rather than the entire sandwich. But it appears Boston Ballet likes to overindulge its audience.