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Dance Review: Boston Ballet Delivers Energetic Performance of Love StoryInane Plot of ...La Fille mal gard..e... Balanced by Skilled Dancing and Acting

By Natania Antler

La Fille mal gard e

Boston Ballet

Music by Ferdinand H rold

Choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton

The Wang Theater

March 9-12, 2006

La Fille mal gard e,” or “The Wayward Daughter,” is a lighthearted ballet about two young lovers, Lise (Misa Kuranaga, March 10) and Colas (Reyneris Reyes, March 10), who work to foil Lise’s mother’s plans to marry her to Alain (Jared Redick, March 10), a local nobleman’s deformed and disturbed son. Though Widow Simone, played by a cross-dressing male dancer (Christopher Budzynski, March 10), is very firm with her mischievous daughter, she finally relents and allows Lise to marry her love. The ballet had its strengths, including some well-portrayed characters and interesting choreographic tricks, but unfortunately the plot lacked complexity, and the annoying lover characters didn’t help..

Although I wasn’t a fan of the plot, this performance was chock-full of interesting and sometimes comic pieces of choreography. In the first act, Kuranaga and Reyes use a large pink ribbon in their dance, incorporating it in turns and using it to mimic horse reins. In a segment of the second act featuring the lead couple and the corps, the ribbon reappears, used to produce a maypole-like effect. In one aesthetic moment, Lise balances in the center of a circle en pointe, holding the ends of many pink ribbons, as the other dancers — each carrying an opposite end — run around her.

At one point during this act, as the villagers celebrate Lise’s upcoming marriage to Alain, she and her lover sneak off together. The villagers try to distract and appease the Widow Simone by getting her to do a clog dance, creating a very amusing scene in which a group performs in combination clog and pointe shoes.

The comic characters in “La Fille mal gard e” were near show-stealers, and redeemed the weak plot. The ballet opens with the dance of a rooster and some hens, which features amusing turned-in feet and tap-dance-like steps and adorable costumes.

As far as the principals go, Budzynski played the mother with pizzazz and comedy. In this half dancing and half acting role, he exhibited physical strength while pushing Lise around, and showed why an athletic male dancer was needed for the part.

Finally, Redick tackled the technically difficult role of the deformed son in possibly the best performance in the show. He had to look like an inexperienced and awkward dancer, actually more difficult than dancing gracefully in the classical ballet style. The acting was also top-notch: he managed to strike a balance between creepy and comic, and by the end had gained the sympathy of the audience.

All in all, despite the poor choice of story, I give the Boston Ballet credit for excellent acting and technique. “La Fille mal garde ” was only a weekend run, but the rest of the Boston Ballet’s season is still to come, and definitely worth seeing.