Shades of Sound

When the invitation from the Boston Ballet arrived, it took me about a nanosecond to decide. “Would you like to be our guest at the opening of Shades of Sound, the Ballet’s brand-new show?” the message read. Yes!

View More: Courtesy of Nikki Amara Myers of Nikki Myers Photography

As a long ago wanna be ballerina (I was about five when I dreamed of a career in tutus flying across a stage), I have never lost my romanticism for the ballet. An elegant form of dance built on enormous strength and deep lyricism, ballet demands your attention, and that attention is rewarded with each pirouette and arabesque.

For Shades of Sound I did something decadent: I went by myself. (All the parents reading this post are fist bumping me, right?) The show would have made a lovely date night with husband, but the starts didn’t align, so I headed to the Boston Opera House solo. Then, I lucked out: in the seat to my right was fellow blogger Leah Klein, who is both the mother of a budding ballerina and a ballet aficionado. I was fortunate to glean some terrific ballet insight from her during the intermissions.

Shades of Sound is a trio of ballets, including Chroma, Episodes, and Black Cake. Each features different choreography by some of ballet’s most well-known dance masters, different music, and completely different interpretations of the art of ballet.

Boston BalletPhoto courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor/Boston Ballet

Chroma was, by far, my favorite. It’s a modern, visually arresting piece choreographed by Wayne MacGregor; I’ve never seen anything like it. I loved the minimalist set and the way the light changed colors throughout the piece, contributing to the mood, from aggressive to lonely, and from intimate to poignant. The dancers captivated me. Each brought strength and intensity to the piece, drawing me in and keeping me entranced. The costumes are simple, coordinated with each dancer’s skin tone, yet when the dancers whirled together and alone, their costumes contributed a pattern of color and vision that enhanced their impressive work. When this ballet ended, the audience stood up, cheering, and I thought how much I would like to see Chroma again.

View More: Photo Courtesy of Nikki Amara Myers of Nikki Myers Photography

Episodes, from Georges Balanchine, was next. Opening night of Shades of Sound was its Boston Ballet premiere, and it was a thrill to witness this debut. Mikko Nissinen, the Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director, in his welcome letter to Shades of Sound, describes Balanchine as an “architectural genius,” and that is a perfect way to capture Balanchine’s style. Exacting is another. With its grey backdrop and black and white costumes, Episodes is a ballet of contrasts and clarity. It’s also a technically impressive piece; some of leaps and bends had me wondering how the dancers moved their bodies that way! One of the smaller movements within this ballet had the audience laughing, humor infused in the piece—something I never expected at the ballet. Another featured one dancer surrounded by five ballerinas, all connected together, as if one living being twirling together. I took a mental picture of that one; it was so striking. During Episodes, I was drawn into the plentiful expertise of the dancers, their long legs and arms gracefully reaching, the ballerinas en pointe, seeming to become the dance.

Shades of SoundPhoto courtesy of Rosalie O’Connor/Boston Ballet

The final ballet within Shades of Sound was Black Cake, choreographed by Hans van Manen. Emotionally lightest of the trio, this ballet is party piece. Set against the music of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and others, Black Cake features the Boston Ballet’s dancers showing the audience a tipsy evening of fun, replete with high heels, champagne, and a deadpan waiter. I giggled a few times during this piece, appreciating the joy the dancers brought to the stage, which is set against a stage of a black starry sky. Ending Shades of Sound on a whimsical note had the audience leaving with smiles, humming their way into the cold New England evening.

Shades of Sound runs through March 29 at the Boston Opera House, and is part of a longer ballet series, titled Perceptions. Other performances in the Perceptions series will be held in April and May. Tickets can be purchased online at

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ticket to attend Shades of Sound, but all opinions in this post are mind. Read my disclosure policy.