Boston Ballet’s ‘Le Corsaire’ features true love and swashbuckling pirates

By Kaydee Donohoo

Staff Writer

A new Boston Ballet season has swept audiences away with a production of the unique “Le Corsaire.” This ballet follows a merchant who, with his cohort of corsaires, makes his escape from a Turkish marketplace to Pirate Island with a group of escaped slave girls, plenty of loot, and his new love: the Greek foster daughter  of villain Lankedem.


“Le Corsaire” tells the tale of kidnapped maidens, handsome pirates, and a comedic Pasha. Credit: Kathryn Prouse

Take a moment to visualize how great the concept of “pirate ballet dancers” sounds. It’s actually even cooler than that.

The sets were extremely impressive, with palaces, beaches,  and grottoes. There was most notably a back-drop and lighting that gave the illusion of a bright blue sky. As with other Boston Ballet productions involving a fantasy world, there is a fantastic three-dimensional illusion from how the sets, overlap and angle together to create depth.

For the introduction, a pirate ship, along with projected wind clouds and lightning, created a storm. This appeared before the audience through an oval in a screen over the stage, as if from a giant moving story book.

The third act of the ballet, was a great visual finale. The  beautiful peek at a cerulean blue sky became a stageful of saturated cobalt. For the real finale, however, the stage took an unexpected turn and was filled with rosy golds and pinks as more and more flowers and dancers in new costumes appeared.

One of the most notable features of “Le Corsaire” was great chemistry between two different couples in the ballet. I could easily imagine what kind of people they were, and what relationships they would have if I knew them off the set, or if I were to enter their world as a corsaire.


Credit: Kathryn Prouse

An extremely endearing moment appears when Medora impersonates the dancing style of her lover Conrad. This moment really played on one of the traditional aspects of ballet that demands a completely different style of dancing from men and women. This would be difficult to overcome without uprooting the training of ballet dancers. The male dancers have larger, more empowering and impressive moves. Medora’s dancing with the confidence of Conrad was great to see.

The plot behind “Le Corsaire” was extremely captivating, and had moments of nearly every genre with comedy, suspense, and romance. It led audiences to forget they were watching a ballet without words and just fall into the story. This was most apparent when poisoned flowers appear on stage, and the enemies of characters are plotted against.

“Le Corsaire” runs from October 27 to November 6. Student rush tickets are $25 and sold the night of each show.

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