Dance with Fairies: Boston Ballet performs Shakespeare’s Dream

Dance with Fairies: Boston Ballet performs Shakespeares Dream

Michael Hogan

Sometime in the late 1500’s, the world’s greatest dramatist, William Shakespeare, penned what would become one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In January 1962, the New York City Ballet premiered an elaborate show choreographed by George Balanchine and based on Shakespeare’s work. For two weeks in February 2007, the Boston Ballet transformed the Citi Wang Theater into a lush, forested landscape and presented the timeless tale of love and mischief to enthralled audiences each night.

Shakespeare’s play tells the tale of four couples whose lives and loves unknowingly collide at the hands of the mischievous sprite Puck. Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his queen, Titania, quarrel over a child they both want. As a result, Oberon sends Puck to get the flower that was pierced by the arrow of Cupid, which cause those under its spell to fall in love with the first person they see, and use it to mess with Titania. Well, things fall apart a bit. Puck strikes both Lysander and Demetrius, with the flower bringing them both under its spell and causing each of them to fall for the wrong girl. A man’s head is turned into that of a donkey and there are dukes and fairies. It’s a strange world, a magical world and an hysterical world.

Balanchine’s choreography brings the story to life. Through dance and music, the audience watches the complicated narrative unfold. They follow along, eyes wide with wonder. Children and adults alike are taken on a journey into the forests around the palace of Theseus; they are invited to a wedding that is attended by fairies and mortals alike. The choreography of Balanchine is accentuated with lavish sets and costumes designed by Martin Pakledinaz for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. The music of Mendelssohn adds to the drama and playfulness of the show. It is a trip that should not be missed by anyone who ever has the chance to see it.

The show is over now, but there are still more to come. The Boston Ballet, one of the leading dance companies in the country, had been around since 1963. The first American dance company to perform in the People’s Republic of China, the Boston Ballet has also been honored to perform at the Nervi Festival in Italy and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Boston Ballet also includes the Boston Ballet School and educational program for 2,000 students ranging in age from three to 21 to be groomed into the next world-renowned dancer. It’s main performing venue is the 3,600-seat Citi Wang Theater on Tremont St. in the Theater District, in itself a marvel to behold.

The rest of this season at The Boston Ballet includes “New Visions” from March 1 to March 4, an exhibition of the newest techniques in ballet. This isn’t your classical dance; this is ballet with a modern flair. From May 3 to May 6, it is “Classic Balanchine,” a set of three works by the late choreographer. And from May 10 to May 20 is “Giselle,” the story of a young peasant woman who comes back from her grave to save her fiancé.

Sure, ballet may seem like it is only a bunch of people hopping around on a stage in tights, but it is much more than that. It is a skill, an extremely difficult one to master. It is grace and style personified in two hours of distilled beauty and elegance.