Full disclosure: the Boston Ballet’s Bella Figura had me spellbound long before I passed through the doors of the Opera House. The Italian idiom, the stunning promotional images, the roster of some of ballet’s most arresting–and provocative–choreographers. I could hardly claim objectivity. Instead, I attended anticipating a contemporary work of the earth-shattering variety, a giddy, hyper-stimulated fanboy.

Bella Figura was just that, and then some. Throughout the program of shorter works, the Boston Ballet’s dancers demonstrated the requisite command of craft and versatility–shifting effortlessly from near-rigid, stilted sequences to broad swaths of supple movement–that makes this company one of the most respected in the country.  But where they exceeded expectation was the conviction, the electric emotional energy, with which these dancers took to the stage, and to the works, diverse as they were.

The image above is an excellent example: the pair having each just shed their clothes (and with it their proverbial skins), this dénouement of sorts was frenetic but achingly vulnerable, an ephemeral moment as beautifully felt as it was beautifully danced. The only word for its lingering effect is haunting.

Extraordinary as that moment was, the honor of the ‘highlight’ is owed to the touching pas de deux, Tsukiyo, in the second act of the program. Set in a haze of lazy clouds, it was the clear crowd favorite. In no small way due to the sheer commitment of Lia Cirio’s dancing…

Cirio is one of the most engaging dancers I have ever witnessed.  The depth she imbues in her movements is the variety of emotional resonance that goes beyond beauty of form, or, even, bella figura.  She has both a fury and a fragility in her frame, and the stage never feels more alive than when she is on it.

I, you, the entire city of Boston, would do well to witness it more often.

You can purchase your tickets here: Bella Figura

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