On May 24, the Boston Ballet featured the 8th Annual “Next Generation” production for the viewing pleasure of the Greater Boston community.

This event showcases young and up-and-coming members of the Boston Ballet School’s (BBS) Pre-Professional Program before lovers of the art form.

Unlike traditional ballets, the acts did not serve to tell the story of one long narrative. Rather, as a collage of various motifs, the performance allowed BBS a greater range of freedom to display the prowess of their students.

The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra provided the soundtrack for the performance and opened the show with a rousing piece. The first half left something to be desired, falling largely within the framework of the typical scenes and movements one often encounters in other ballets. This included a segment revolving around the theme of courtship. However, the architect behind Next Generation’s routine may have purposely aimed to cover the basics as a statement to the dancers’ readiness. If so, the ballerinas more than lived up to the statement, handling their parts with grace and fluidity. While there were momentary lapses in smoothness, the untrained eye would not have noticed. These mistakes could be attributed to their age.

It was the second half that lifted the level of the show. There was an energy in both the tempo of the music and in the moves of the dancers that was not there in the first half. It was as though the first half had been a deep breath before the plunge into the mesmerizing depths of more captivating waters.

In the opening scene, the male dancers appeared on stage in skin-colored skintight suits and accentuated their musculature. They performed acrobatic somersaults and feats of strength. In a dazzling move, one of the dancers was pulled upwards by a colleague and ran along the angled backs of his fellows. It was in times such as this, where alternative methods were employed, that the show lived up to its title. The most notable disappointment was not in the performers themselves, but in the way in which the creator limited half of its cast--the women of the show.

While BBS’s “Next Generation” production appeared to include new age styles, it perhaps did not include new age thinking. The women’s role today has changed since the inception of ballet. Why was it impossible to distinguish this play from any other?

One of the eye-catching talents, a young woman, shined during her performance. Only thing is, it was as the supporting member of the man’s courtship act. While women certainly contributed to the more unique portions of the show, there was nothing equal in scale to that of the men.

“Next Generation” aroused curiosity in audience members. There were elements of the show not found in other ballets. As times and performers change, one can expect even more unique versions of this performance. For ballet enthusiasts, “Next Generation” serves its purpose as an exhibition of what is to come, as well as a preview of new styles that could ripple outward throughout the profession.

Those looking for something a little different will find their appetites teased, but not entirely quenched. “Next Generation” felt like reading a good spy novel: a slow build up with a dizzying array of excitement until the very end.  

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