Wings of Wax, a ballet beyond beautiful: Review

Boston Ballet - streettrotter Paulo Arrais and Lia Cirio in Jiří Kylián's Wings of Wax; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Wings of Wax, a widely acclaimed ballet performance, opened Thursday night at the Boston Opera House in Downtown Crossing, Boston. Structured in three parts – George Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations, Jiri Kylian’s Wings of Wax, and Alexander Ekman’s Cacti – the two-hour show by the Boston Ballet combines live orchestra performances with dances choreographed around curious props.

Beginning with Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations, the show moves onto its namesake performance, and ends with Ekman’s Cacti. While it is the last piece that involves the plants, Balanchine’s piece certainly stands out like a thorn. The blue outfits and pink tutus, courtesy of Miami City Ballet, differ sharply from the dark and somber blacks and nudes the dancers don for the latter performances.

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Misa Kuranaga – in George Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations by Rosalie O’Connor

On Thursday, coordination and power too populated only the latter, with the dancers seeming low on energy and out of sync during the 26-minute first piece, that originally premiered in New York to honor the 100th anniversary of Italy’s unification.

Kylián’s Wings of Wax certainly turned things around with it’s intriguing stage setup – a barren, upside down tree hanging mid air center stage, with a single light revolving around it clockwise – and sharp, contemporary choreography that “symbolizes the eternal desire of human beings for freedom in its physical, spiritual or any other imaginable form.” It aims to evoke the desire to defy gravity, and display the myriad of a dancer’s emotions within a continuum. The piece was a crowd pleaser, and was met with a standing ovation.

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Boston Ballet in Jiří Kylián’s Wings of Wax; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet.

Alexander Ekman’s arresting and witty Cacti was the perfect close to the program, accompanied by an on stage string quartet and dancers actively engaging with props like oversized scrabble tiles and cacti plants. Intended to parody the form of contemporary dance in itself, the piece involves spoken word that satirizes the affectations of dance.  The quirky choreography had the crowd laughing and intentionally left the audience befuddled.

“I’m not sure I quite completely understood Cacti,” said attendee Robert Morrisette. “But overall I enjoyed the variety of styles that we saw on stage tonight.” Morrisette identified ‘Wings of Wax’ to be his favorite part of the entire show.

Michelle Chen, another audience member, said she thought the performances “went from the traditional to the strange but interesting,” and also declared Kylian’s choreography to be her favorite.

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Boston Ballet and guest artist Dana Caspersen in William Forsythe’s Artifact 2017; photo by Rosalie O’Connor

The Boston Ballet will be performing the show till April 3. For those looking to fill their evenings with a thematic amalgam of great (for the most part) dance performances, Wings of Wax is a must-see with the tickets starting at $35. For more information, visit bostonballet.org


About the Author: Originally from New Delhi, India, Vaishnavee Sharma left home to pursue her Master’s in Journalism at Boston University. Her interests include Feminism, Wildlife Conservation and Social Justice. When bored, she enjoys reading, watching documentaries and plotting ways to destroy Patriarchy.