Boston Ballet’s “Kaleidoscope” brings a bold splash of joy and color to the spring season – and a spritely alternative to Irish step dancing when the company opened its latest entrée on St. Patrick’s Day. The program, which runs through March 26 at the Opera House, combines four diverse pieces that – with the exception of the comparatively dour grace of the short “Pas de Quatre&rdquordquo;– proved bright, lively and broadly accessible.
On Thursday, standout dancers Lia Cirio and Dusty Button even evoked the look and energy of cheerleaders in blue-lined silver mini-dresses and ponytails for “Kammermusik No. 2,” a George Balanchine-choreographed piece that began the night with their circular sweeps in echo and unison, alone and with partners, in sync to the crisp, barbed piano sections in Paul Hindemith’s score. A backing row of male dancers broke into angular lines and — for one humorous moment — claws-out gestures that recalled Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, as the piece hinted at the bounce of a sock hop and the edgy passion of tango with its taut structure and joyous freedom.
“Pas de Quatre” (with Cirio shining again as one of four ballerinas in loose, white tutus, hands interlocked in a delicate weave before breaking for solos) and the return of “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” (a Schubert-scored William Forsythe showcase for snappy pirouettes, its purple and light-green costume palette including lillypad-flat skirt attachments) provided the night’s midsection with both traditional and contemporary style.
But it was all a table-setter for the flamboyant, comic “Gaite Parisienne,” a ballet by lesser-known Russian master Leonide Massine set in a Parisian café (painted in an elaborate set akin to Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”) and sporting a gaggle of dancers as waiters, maids and soldiers, baron, duke, glove seller, flower girl and a Peruvian sad sack. Christian Lacriox’s costume design was lavish to the point of gaudy, a mix of turn-of-century high-fashion (with red-feathered hats) and clown-like color clashes in tune with Jacques Offenbach’s percussion-spiked, circus-shaded music. The piece finally climaxed with can-can dancers afloat in striped and polka-dot dresses, flaunted as loudly as the silly romantic plotline. There was something going on wherever one looked amid the ensemble chaos, in movements well-executed and enormously entertaining.