Beyond the tutus and pointe shoes of the "Royal" ballet companies, European cities nurture (and fund) an array of smaller contemporary ballet ensembles like Ballet Preljocaj, led by inventive choreographers who take audacious delight in challenging ballet dancers to move in imaginative productions that deconstruct classical ballets and classical music. In the '70s Maurice Bejart's stunning Firebird was a parable of insurgent spirit rising phoenix-like from the ashes of a fallen guerrilla leader. In 1985, Maguy Marin reconceived Cinderella with the dancers as dolls complete with porcelain face masks. In the '90s, Mats Ek envisioned the maid as the heroine in The Nutcracker, and Matthew Bourne transformed Swan Lake into a riff on dysfunctional royal families with a male swan corps in feathered knickers. Add to that list Angel Preljocaj, who is best known here for his Romeo and Juliet set in a post-Bladerunner world where love is not just romantic euphoria but an act of rebellion against a culture of robotic uniformity. Robotic movement is part, but only a small part of Preljocaj's Les 4 Saisons (yes, Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons), which is the calling card for Ballet Preljocaj's performances at two local venues. Premiered in Paris in 2005, Les 4 Saisons blends objects dangling above and some falling onto the stage, florescent green frogs, men costumed in sponges and a bit of nudity. Some whimsy mixed into a 21st-century reconsideration of the familiar 18th-century musical classic.
May 1-2, 8 p.m., 2009