Boston Ballet celebrates female choreographers – The Suffolk Journal
When it comes to ballet, women are often recognized for their work on stage and less often given sufficient credit for their accomplishments or productions.
However, from March 3-13, Boston Ballet presented “ChoreograpHER,” a performance highlighting the groundbreaking work of women in the world of ballet. The program featured works by five women, including choreography, drawing, music and visual arts.
This initiative was originally launched in 2018 to encourage women to create and perform dances, and these dance numbers eventually hit the stage at Citizens Bank Opera House.
“ChoreograpHER” featured productions from Tiler Peck, Melissa Toogood, Lia Cirio, Shantell Martin and Claudia Schreier. Each dance captured something unique, whether in their choice of moves, singing, or feel of the piece.
Peck’s “Starting point” was a captivating first issue. On stage, the musicians played Caroline Shaw’s “Thousandth Orange”, which captured the audience’s attention almost instantly, as the sounds of piano and strings looked like a nice complicated conversation between two different languages. It was jarring and strange but seductive.
Standing still, arms intertwined, six dancers dressed in bright pastels began to break away from the group. The dance displayed a mix of rushed and slow movements, and the dancers had a mix of duets and solos, ending in the intertwined pose from the start.
Toogood’s “Butterflies Don’t Write Books” is based on an essay by Mary Oliver and features a composition by Jeff Klein written for her work. Beginning with the sound of a heartbeat, the piece included jerky movements with multiple short solos. The dance was inspired by Toogood’s struggles choreographing in her small bedroom during the pandemic. There were variations of quick, awkward movements that captured a sense of isolation and being trapped.
Cirio’s first main piece for the company, “Chaptered in Fragments”, was evocative with dancer Soo Bin Lee alone on stage to start. Behind a canvas, six other dancers strut slowly. Set to music by composers George Frideric Handel, Dmitri Shostakovich, Antonín Dvořák and Johannes Brahms, the dance was inspired by Cirio’s life after the pandemic shut down most businesses, schools and workplaces.
Like the music, the dance was choreographed to be eerie and uncoordinated, reflecting Cirio’s feelings of trying to live life again. She started the work in September 2020 and resumed it in April 2021, incorporating this sense of change and evolution into her dancing.
Martin’s piece “Kites” embodied the visual of a kite, as it was uplifting and nostalgic. Martin wanted her performance to be fun and free, and she did just that. From flowing outfits to bouncing moves, the dancers quickly glided across the stage mingling with the energetic music. It was a stark contrast to the other plays, and it brought the whole theater to life.
Another upbeat track, Schreier’s “Slipstream,” was set to Tanner Porter’s “Six Sides from the Shape of Us.” This song was specifically chosen by Schreier because it brought his emotions to life with its playful drumming.
Inspired by the movement of starlings, which flock in groups but also fly solo, the dance featured duets and ensemble movements.
“Choreographer” is available to stream March 17-27 as part of Boston Ballet’s Virtual Subscription Package.
Follow Emilie on Twitter @emilyrcollins7.