“Le Corsaire” en pointe in season opener
November 2, 2016
Ivan Liska’s production of “Le Corsaire” encompassed the essence of both the poetry of dance and the power of character. Held at the Boston Opera House, the Boston Ballet kicked off the 2016-17 season with the North American premier of Liska’s version of this epic story, which embodied action, romance and anticipation.
Making its first American debut in 1997, this ballet was composed in 1856 by Adolphe Charles Adam, just 40 years prior to the publication of Lord Bryon’s epic “The Corsair,” on which this production is based. From Bryon, to Adam and now to Liska, they all tell the story of the pirate Conrad who falls in love with Medora and risks everything to hold onto her.
United States native Patrick Yocum, a soloist portraying Conrad, discussed in a post-show interview with The Suffolk Journal the mindset he developed in order to fully consume the role.
“[Conrad] is a very classic heroic character, who’s got a bit of arrogance, but shows immense bravery for Medora,” said Yocum. “This ballet is the dance of Conrad in many ways, because this is his adventure and his story.”
Yocum has been dancing with the Boston Ballet since 2008 and became a soloist for the company in 2015.
“What you’re seeing is an incredible preservation of a very interesting history,” Yocum explained to The Journal. Although he said without prior knowledge of this story’s content, it can be challenging to follow the storyline during the performance.
By the early 1900s, close to 150 years after the ballet first appeared, 26 different composers had revised the music. In Liska’s version, he has taken it back to the early choreography of Marius Petipa, cutting the composition down to just six composers. What has formulated from this revision is an alluring outline of the character Conrad, emphasizing his romantic, passionate and pirate nature.
Medora, a merchant’s daughter is destined to be sold to the Pasha, who possesses great wealth and power, but Conrad steals her away to escape said certain fate. Despite overwhelming odds and near-death at sea, the two lovers prevail and set sail for new life of freedom and happiness.
The soloists’ performances were breathtaking, with seemingly endless turns and gravity-defying leaps and lifts.
Opening night featured Lasha Khozashvili as Conrad, and Seo Hye Han as Medora. The pair possessed unparalleled chemistry and told a tale of heartbreak and devotion. An outstanding use of mise-en-scène and overall stage production, the show’s success was enhanced by the stunning costumes and dramatic portrayal of enduring love, perseverance and fighting for what’s right.
This production offered the audience a breathtaking demonstration of how combining great music with wonderful characters, developed through dance, can tell a riveting story. This production is not limited to a strict, classical ballet format, but instead moves beyond form to offer a living, moving story.
“The essence of dance is to be able to lose yourself in a character like Conrad, and connect with the audience through this character so that they can relate to you,” said Yocum. “That is the reason why I dance. This is who I am, I am a corsaire, I am a pirate.”
“Le Corsaire” is all of the emotions that cannot be explained in words, but only expressed through dance. The characters and the poetry of their movement make this experience memorable and worthwhile.
The production will run from Oct. 27 through Nov. 6. For more information, visit www.bostonballet.org or go to the Boston Opera House located on 539 Washington St.