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Boston Ballet multimedia pop-up stops in Grove Hall during ‘Open Streets’

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Boston Ballet multimedia pop-up stops in Grove Hall during ‘Open Streets’
Dance films and multimedia artworks are shown inside the viewing structure. Photo: Aram Boghosian

The Boston Ballet’s ÜNI public art installation will pop up in Grove Hall on Aug. 6 as part of the Boston Open Streets Initiative. The installation presents in a dome structure dance films and audio-visual artworks created by the ballet.

The pop-up will showcase seven films, some created specifically for the unique viewing structure. Some of the films are video representations of stage performances, others go more behind-the-scenes such as “Sugar Plum Dream,” which features clips of Black female dancer Chyrstyn Fentroy performing the iconic role from the “Nutcracker” and footage of her discussing the experience.

The dome viewing structure. PHOTO: Brooke Trisolini

Fentroy is looking forward to bringing the ballet into diverse communities and showing children of color that there are dancers on stage who look like them. “Having a ballet company with the name of a city, you have to represent the city that you’re named after,” says Fentroy. “I think it’s important that everyone on stage looks like the people that are here watching us.”

The project brings both accessibility and representation to center stage. ÜNI’s initial pop-up was at the Nubian Square Juneteenth celebration, and more pop-up dates and locations will be announced after the Grove Hall event. Creating the ÜNI public art project and its corresponding online viewing platform enabled the Boston Ballet to keep dancers employed and performing during the pandemic, jointly benefiting the company and viewers desperate for cultural experiences.

To create the installation, the ballet company partnered with MASARY Studios, a Fort Point-based group that creates public artworks at the nexus of technology, performance, sound and light. Caleb Hawkins, design director at MASARY Studios, says, “Over the course of developing and designing the work with the team, I’ve been most excited by the connections the project is able to make — cultural connections between Boston Ballet and the public, and technical connections between digital and physical mediums.”

The ÜNI pop-up experience is completely free and open to the public. On Aug. 6, it will be on the Grove Hall Open Streets blocks spanning Dudley Street to Warren Avenue. Closed to traffic, the Open Streets event will also feature live performances, food trucks, games, local shopping and community connectivity.

“ÜNI public art is an incredibly exciting addition to what Boston Ballet has to offer and is unlike anything any other dance company is doing,” says Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. “Being able to showcase these innovative dance films in an immersive, pop-up structure allows us to bring Boston Ballet to communities and meet people where they are.”