By Lindsey Davis
Boston, MA – The Boston Ballet’s current show, “All Kylián,” features three acts that combine ballet with modern dance and performance art. Every dance reinterprets and expands on the one before it, all with an obvious visual signature of the acclaimed choreographer for whom the show is named, Jiri Kylián.
Kylián is a Czech artist who has been departing from classical styles his entire career. His past compositions have been established as “abstract,” some even described as “surrealistic.” “All Kylián” was definitely more conceptual than classical, abrasive and almost violent movements were coordinated to somber music — the men emphasizing their power over women through reactionary choreography.
As the curtain lifted upon “Wings of Wax,” rows of dancers in simple black tights lingered in the background, a woman breaking first to perform a dramatic solo. Then, different members took their turns dancing in the spotlight, either alone or in a group or pairing until everyone eventually faded away — their clothes blending their bodies into the black curtains behind them.
The set was bold and simple at the same time — a tree suspended upside-down over the center of the stage, slowly and metaphorically circled by a low-lying spotlight during the entire performance.
Each of the two following sets were just as dramatic, all requiring extended intermissions to replace and rebuild everything, including the floors. “Tar and Feathers,” featured a piano set on 10-foot stilts, played by Tomoko Mukaiyama. A giant mass of bright white bubble-wrap sat on the opposite side of the stage and the dancers moved around both. The crackling of bubble wrap, accompanied by the dancer’s screams, moved the composition farther from ballet and closer to performance art.
The final act was another impassioned, sorrowful piece set to music by 20th century composer Igor Stravinsky. “Symphony of Psalms” was choreographed with larger group passages, with a heavy emphasis on boy/girl pairings, creating a scene that resembled a misogynistic wedding ceremony from the Middle Ages. Here, heavy oriental rugs were collaged to form the backdrop, placed before a simple set of eight wooden chairs, archaic and primitive like the rugs behind them.
(Boston Ballet’s presentation of “All Kylián” continues through March 17 with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St, Boston. For tickets, call (617) 695-6955.)