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Review: Boston Ballet’s fall program

Jules Becker | 11/2/2012, 7:39 a.m.

The saga of Lawrence Rines continues.

Joining Boston Ballet in 2009, the young Boston-based black dancer proved early on that he could range from the classical demands of a dance chestnut like "La Bayadere" to the multiple role challenges of the company's fabled "The Nutcracker."

Those strengths catapulted Rines from Boston Ballet II to the corps de ballet (the main company) in 2012. The modern dance piece "Tabula Rasa" and the classical Balanchine work "Symphony in Three Movements" reconfirmed his multi-faceted abilities.

Now Rines is demonstrating the high caliber of his dancing in the William Forsythe ballet "The Second Detail," the closing part of Boston Ballet's season- opening trio "Fall Program," now through Sunday.

A big Boston Ballet hit in 2011, Forsythe's demanding 1991 piece is quickly becoming as much of a company signature work and local favorite as Twyla Tharp's 1986 winner "In the Upper Room."

It is easy to see why. Set to the percussive and highly pulsating music of Dutch composer Thomas Willems, "The Second Detail" begins with the form of classical ballet but quickly adds evolving moves that stretch 13 dancers — dressed in grayish blue leotards and tights — from solo and duet to ensemble configurations. Changes occur rapidly, yet some dancers move upstage nonchalantly at times to stools in a line upstage. Near the end of the work, a woman loosely wrapped in what resembles a white sheet appears and moves through the ensemble only to fall prostrate. A dancer cryptically turns over a sign with the word "THE" first visible at the start.

Does the title of the piece mean to say that the details change as quickly as a second passes? Does the title suggest that dance can take on a second form — not only the formalism of classical works but also the adventurous logic of a carefully structured piece by Forsythe? Perhaps both understandings apply. Perhaps the turning over of "THE" signals a commitment to a diversity of disciplined moves. In any event, all of the 13 ensemble dancers achieve the kind of fluidity, skill and variety that Boston Ballet earlier brought to the now celebrated Tharp work.

As with his fellow ensemble dancers, Rines displays good height and strength on leaps, fine leg extension and impressive contortions and athleticism as called for by Forsythe's challenging ballet. His moves are appropriately ample and sharp.

At the performance in question (casts alternating through the run), John Lam executed a distinctive solo with standout technique and great presence.

"Fall Program" opens with a colorful and wonderfully animated Christopher Bruce piece called "Rooster."

With a rainbow repertoire of men's shirts and red dominating women's outfits in Marion Bruce's costumes, "Rooster" captures the spirit of the accompanying Rolling Stones classics as crisply as Tharp's "Sinatra Suites" visualizes Old Blue Eyes' unique style and grace.

Throughout the whimsical work, male dancers evoke the title bird's distinctive moves. Falling red boa feathers suggest flames in "Play with Fire."

Jeffrey Cirio — one of the youthful company's justly rising stars — achieves impressive height but also conveys striking vulnerability where required.

"Awake Only," very well danced and equally ambitious, is the trio's one disappointment. This Jorma Elo world premiere means to present a fully developed exploration of childhood and family expressed through dance and set to the music by Bach.

The dancing is superb — as with the other two pies in the program. Ashley Ellis and Yuri Yanowsky — the latter once of the company's strongest leapers -- combine feeling and remarkable technique as the parents.

Paulo Arrais, arguably the company's premiere male dancer right now, finds all of the grownup child's alternating wistfulness and ruefulness as he remembers.

Elo has expressive Boston Ballet School student Liam Lurker portray the child in a kind of brief character dance performance — entering at the start and finish and at points of vivid remembrance.

Regrettably the piece is overlong with repetitive sequences that do not add meaningful emphasis. If Elo can tighten this work, it could become a major memory ballet.

Fall Program: Rooster; Awake Only (world premiere); The Second Detail. Boston Ballet, Boston Opera House, through November 4. 617-695-6950 or bostonballet.org.