After the horrors of yesterday, I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate the courageous city of Boston.
Over the past few years, photographer Brian Mengini has taken images of dancers in, on, around and framed by some of Boston's landmarks—both big (the John Hancock tower) and small (one of the South End's old-fashioned street lamps). They're photographic love letters to the city, and they capture both its beauty and something of its indomitable spirit. I've shared a few of them below.
Stay strong, Boston. We—even the Yankees fans among us—are rooting for you.
All photos by Brian Mengini
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I took a bus back to my home state of Massachusetts this weekend to escape from the city for a few hours, and while I was there I managed to catch one of the last performances of Boston Ballet’s “Simply Sublime.” It’s an ambitious title for a program, so I was excited to see if it would live up to its name.
The program seemed at first to be the weirdest combination of dances ever. It started off with Fokine’s soft, romantic Les Sylphides, then jumped to Wheeldon’s sharp Polyphonia, and finished with Balanchine’s vivacious Symphony in Three Movements. After seeing them all in succession, though, I realized that the combination was brilliant: all three are abstract dances focused on the patterns, shapes, and how the movement related to the music.
Check out a great trailer by Boston Ballet here:
Lia Cirio, the principal in Les Sylphides, was graceful, demure, and strong all at once. However, it was the demi-soloists who really blew me away. I had never noticed Adiarys Almeida’s lush upper body and Rie Ichikawa’s musical precision before. The corps was a little messy, though. My mezzanine seat made their not-quite-straight lines and slightly-off counts obvious. (Then again, being in the Les Sylphides corps is not easy. It brought back memories of being twelve and learning the ballet in Variations class. Kneeling for that long hurts!)
Luckily, Polyphonia was absolute perfection. It may be my new favorite ballet. Four couples in blue leotards performed complicated pointework and partnering to a really bizarre score by György Ligeti. It actually seemed as though the music was composed after the ballet had been choreographed. Lia Cirio again was extraordinary—the girl is pure muscle! At one point, she went from a bridge over Sabi Varga into a back walkover and landed on pointe (!). The whole piece ended with all four women doing a saut de basque and landing in their partner’s arms horizontally, in perfect unison.
The program ended on a high note with Symphony in Three Movements, one of Balanchine’s fun, sassy ballets. The corps, wearing white leotards and ponytails, pranced around in dizzying formations. Then James Whiteside and Kathleen Breen Combes did a pas de deux, and I could have died happy. I’m a huge fan of both of them. (Okay, part of that might be because of James Whiteside’s pop star alter ego…)
Overall, it was definitely worth the trip home! While I love being able to see NYCB every weekend now that I live in New York, Boston Ballet was the first company that caught my heart, and “Simply Sublime” was one of their best programs yet.