IMPRESSIONS: The Boston Ballet Presents "Our Journey" Dances by Justin Peck and Nanine Linning

IMPRESSIONS: The Boston Ballet Presents "Our Journey" Dances by Justin Peck and Nanine Linning
Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram

By Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram
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Published on April 20, 2023
Boston Ballet in "La Mer"; photo by Liza Voll

Dance Company: Boston Ballet

Venue: Citizens Bank Opera House, Boston, MA

Date: April 14, 2023

Choreographers: Justin Peck, Nanine Linning

Composers: Sufjan Stevens, Claude Debussy

Costume Designers: Janie Taylor, Yuma Nakazato

Video Scenographer: Heleen Blanke

The Boston Ballet delivered an unforgettable program with sterling performances, triggering a staggering span of emotions. The men in today’s company dance with such freedom that one can get a visceral high from simply watching them. The two pieces presented, Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go, set to a contemporary piano solo by Sufjan Stevens, and Nanine Linning's La Mer, set to an orchestral score by Claude Debussy, evoke polar opposite reactions.

Peck’s choreography, commissioned by New York City Ballet in 2014, is a call to celebrate life and love. Here the company embraces the idea that "Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet." Linning’s work, which had its world premiere April 6, 2023 in Boston, is a call to action, focusing on our responsibility to be involved with climate change and our connection to the plight of the ocean. The yin/yang balance of the program stirs the conscious and subconscious equally, honoring neo-classical tradition and contemporary innovation.

against geometric shape in tan and black a ballerina in a striped top and white shirt skirt jumps in arabesque held by two male dancers wearing grey and black unitards. One man holds her uplifted arm, the other, her highly extended leg. The tone is joyful
The Boston Ballet in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go; photo by Lisa Voll

Both pieces involved large casts, showing off the company’s polish, exuberance, superb musicality and immaculate bodies. The costuming for Everywhere We Go, as one effusive audience member explained, “makes you feel that you are in Paris.” For Peck's finale, after exuberant jumps and leaps, the dancers bring  each other to rest on the stage with a gentleness rarely seen in ballet. 

Linning’s La Mer submerges us into an environment fraught with disasters. And this Dutch choreographer shies away from little. In each section, her titles alone spell out her grave concerns and ambitions for the audience to consider: ExtinctionThe Luring Call of GreedOil Spill Song of the Sirens, DeadlineTurmoil of Mankind.” Sickled feet and hands claw upward. Fabric obscures the vision of one soloist. The artist says, “I see the comparison of the ocean with the body, as my own body, and its fragile, inner ecosystem.” 

in the corner a mass of white feathered creatures against a background of the sea shore. Lying in front of the white feathered creaturs are figures donned fully in black latex from head to toe. The tone is menacing
The Boston Ballet in Nanine Linning's La Mer; photo by Lisa Voll

In a talk-back with Linning, Boston Ballet’s artistic director Mikko Nissinen and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Research Communications Director Ken Kostel commented on the surprising optimism of the scientists and their pleasure in being involved in this collaboration. At this time, we also learn that the music director, Mischa Santora, had suggested the inclusion of Debussy’s “Nocturne’s: III. Sirenes, written between 1892 and 1899, which led to the Lorelei Ensemble singing on stage with the dancers — a hauntingly effective tactic.

The company has also made great use of media to deepen the experience of their audience. A five part docuseries, La Mer, is available to watch on YouTube.

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