Upham's Corner Online

Boston Ballet at the Strand Theatre - Engaging and Entertaining

The February 15, 2013 ArtPlace Open House at the Strand was well attended with visitors also enjoying food from Singh's Roti Shop food cart.  Encouraging spontaneous interaction were signs at many display tables asking questions about the future of the arts in Uphams Corner.  What do you think? Text your answer to artplace@vojo.co or call in your answer to 888.821.7563 x4569.   

  • What would you do if you could program this space?
  • What arts, culture and business opportunities would you like to see in Uphams Corner?
  • What else would you like to see Boston Ballet do at the Strand or in Uphams Corner?

The open house also highlighted three Uphams Corner fashion organizations:  All Seasons Bridle, Only One Design and the Bird Street Youth fashion program.

Just before 7:00pm, the theater opened and the good-natured visitors, who had been waiting patiently, filled the first floor and first balcony seating areas.

Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13 Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13

Boston Ballet Setting the Context

The Boston Ballet's performance opened with a focus on context and setting audience expectations. Just who is the Boston Ballet and what do they do (besides dance)?  The lights dimmed. A video set to classical music drew the audience aesthetically into a "dance" mindset with a medley of Boston Ballet performances including dance by young students from their Studio School.

Following the video, Barry Hughson, Executive Director, and Zakiya Thomas, Education and Community Initiatives Director, welcomed everyone and described the Ballet's community involvement including the extended learning time program, "Boys in Motion" (more about this program below).

The evening's program consisted of seven dance vignettes demonstrating Boston Ballet's extensive repertoire from traditional ballet to modern dance. 

Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13 Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13

Lost by Last

The excerpt from "Lost by Last" exhibited powerful and dynamic dance.  The music, "Overture from North by Northwest," by Bernard Herrmann harkens to the sounds of Stravinsky's "RIte of Spring" with short passages that quickly change instrumentation.  The effect, mechanical, energetic and sounding much like a calliope, affords short bursts of musicality against which individual dancers, pairs and the entire group move, also somewhat mechanically.  The costuming is classical ballet and while the music is distinctly twentieth century, the overall effect is classical ballet in modern form.

Paint it Black

"Paint it Black," an excerpt from Rooster, was accompanied by The Rolling Stones singing one of their classics: "Paint it Black." One male and three female dancers were dressed in the symbols of "red and black."  The male dancer wore a red shirt and black pants while the female dancers wore very short "black dresses" accented by a long red scarf.  The dance was modern, saucy and sexy and perfectly matched the energy of the Stones' music.  Entertaining and engaging, "Paint it Black" even drew laughter from the audience.

"Paint it Black" - Excerpts from opening and closing sections:

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes
(more intense choreography)

I wanna see it painted black, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun, blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Chairs in Motion

In its fourth year, Boston Ballet's "Boys in Motion" community program at the Lilla G. Frederick Middle School is an extended learning time program explicitly for middle school boys.  "The program encourages students to use dance as a creative means of expression and promotes global citizenship both inside and outside the studio. "Boys in Motion" is part of the Department of Education and Community Initiatives Taking Steps Program at the Boston Ballet." [excerpted from the program]

Chairs in Motion, a word play on the group's name, opened in silhouette - a group of male dancers with chairs and barstools as props. While simple in form and expression, the chairs offered the dancers a vehicle for creating motion as they exchanged seats, relocated the direction of the chairs, turned them and more.  The music by Evelyn Lenny, written for piano and a variety of drums, provided a strong foundation for the intensity of the dance. The migration of drumming styles afforded a similar path for the choreography.  The African drums were both wonderful to hear and to "watch"in the dance on stage.

Considering this the work of young school-age youth, the performance was exceptional.  The dancers demonstrated amazing agility with back flips and one armed cartwheels.  In addition, the chairs acted as small platforms for difficult handstands, demonstrating how much amazing progress the youth had made with balance.  A glittering gem in the choreography occurred when the dancers raised their seats above their heads while strong golden light bounced off the gleaming metal giving the effect of royal crowns. 


"Niris" opened with two dancers on stage, separated distantly, one male, one female, spotlights giving them form against a deep blue background.  Energetic dancing set our expectations for more.  Suddenly quiet, the music suggested the sound of a beating heart - strong and emotional - while the lighting on stage deepened. Was this a dance about falling in love - a transformation from courtship into deep love?   The choreographic response was to slow and become more erotic.  While the couple consummated in an endless spin, the lights dimmed to black and the dancers disappeared.

Blue Bird Pas De Deux

"Blue Bird pas de Deux" from Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty was classic ballet at its best, in classic dress - two dancers, one male, one female.  Providing an opportunity for solo performances, the dance concluded with a satisfying duet, giving the audience a quality taste of classic ballet.


Receiving the most applause was "Gopak," choreography set to traditional Ukrainian folk music.  Well-known to most audiences, the high-spirited music awakens the expectation for competitive, gymnastic dance, and the Boston Ballet did not disappoint.

The male dancers, as the village males in competition for the heart of the young maiden, were expected to outperform each other.  Which dancer will she choose?  Kicks, high jumps, splits, high splits and more.  The Dorchester audience was moved to amazement, as if they had been transported to that quaint village in the Ukraine.  To each awe-inspiring feat, the onlookers offered the dancers more clapping and more shouts of praise.

Plan to B

The final dance, "Plan to B", opened to a dimly lit stage with one female and three male dancers in silhouette. A violin, in its role as the expression of the human voice, provided the dominant sound - singing moody and complex phrasesl. Unique to this dance was the "disruptive" moment when the music stopped yet the dancers continued in silence.  You could have heard a pin drop.

The one-hour eclectic, vibrant, entertaining and interesting dance program was well received.  Thanks to the Boston Ballet for sharing their professional and awe-inspiring talents with Uphams Corner at the Strand Theatre.

Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13 Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13

Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13 Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13

Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13 Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13

Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13 Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13

Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13 Boston Ballet at the Strand 2/15/13

Posted: February 15, 2013     Nancy J Conrad

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