William Forsythe’s Artifact at the Boston Ballet

I always love a night at the Boston Ballet — it is a transporting experience to watch amazing dancers onstage accompanied by music, while taking in the beautiful surroundings of Boston Opera House. Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the dress rehearsal of the newest production, William Forsythe’s Artifact. It was so fun to attend a rehearsal and get a look into the process — while mainly the show ran as it normally would, there were just a few dozen people in the audience, there were a few sound checks and we saw the dancers figuring how do their bows at the end!

forsythe artifact

Artifact runs through March 5, and is the beginning of a five-year partnership between the Boston Ballet and influential choreographer William Forsythe. The first full-length ballet that he created, Artifact is anchored by three enigmatic characters: the Woman in Historical Costume, the Man with the Megaphone, and a Woman in Grey.

The first two communicate throughout the piece by repeating and rearranging a limited vocabulary — forget, remember, see, hear, do, dust, rocks, step inside, step outside  — the words felt like gibberish at the beginning but during the performance take on a rhythm and an urgency. An interesting tidbit: the Woman in Historical Costume and the Man with the Megaphone (for the first half of the run only) were played by people who have participated in this Forsythe ballet for decades. (I heard that the Man with the Megaphone is even wearing the same pants onstage as he did in the 80s!)

While these characters come on and off stage, large ensembles, smaller groups, and pas de deux appear and disappear. In several segments, the leaping or clapping of the dancers produce interesting sound effects, and in what I found to be the most engrossing scene, two large groups of dancers chant, clap, and tap their feet, while the characters debate using only their few words with great enthusiasm.forsythe artifact

As you can maybe tell by this description, it was definitely a unique night out! Find out more and see ticket info on the Boston Ballet website.

P.S. A chat with principal dancer Ashley Ellis, other nights out at the Ballet

Image Credit: 1) Dominik Mentzos 2) Dieter Schwer

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