Pickett's line on ballet tonight @ HDC

by Alicia Anstead

Helen Pickett stepped out of a T station last night and immediately got on her cell phone. You've seen people like Pickett, walking down the street talking intensely into their phones and waving their hands emphatically, or in her case gracefully. Pickett's pas de deux "Tsukiyo (Moonlit Night)" will be showcased Friday, Oct. 16 (TONIGHT!) when Boston Ballet shows up at the Harvard Dance Center (60 Garden Street). What passersby couldn't have known last night is that Pickett, a choreographer listed on Dance Magazine’s "25 to Watch" in 2007, was doing an interview. I was on the other end of the phone. Below are edited excerpts from our conversation, which lasted 10 minutes and then she was off to her next stop, or, as she (or anyone would) put it the night before an opening: "I'm like a chicken with my head cut off." She and Boston Ballet's artistic coordinator and ballet master Shannon Parsley will talk with the audience about the dance process after tonight's show.

What do you want for audiences when they see the show on Friday? As a choreographer, you can't make any body fit into a cookie-cutter role, so I made this piece with these couples [the dancers] in the room, and then I worked with each couple separately. You'll be able to see how different the same choreography is on each couple. I wanted to show how much "art" is involved with each dancer. I promote that. I want choice-making individuals. You talk about freedom within boundaries. What's that about? I'm a big technique fanatic. Greater freedom is found once your know classical techniques well. How did you learn that? I've been fortunate to have wonderful teachers. And also my dad. This sounds corny but he laid the groundwork. But it's a continuing cultivation of how much we can know, how curious can we stay, how responsible do you want to be? What do you want people to know about ballet? There's a bit of a stigma attached to ballet -- that it doesn't allow freedom, that it's the "dance of the pose." I am out in the world with raised fists to say this is absolutely not true. Ballet is changing and growing because of people who have broken the boundaries. The point is to stay true to the form and technique and then to break out! That's what I want -- that's not too much, is it?

The Boston Ballet will perform 7 p.m. Friday, October 16 (TONIGHT) at the Harvard Dance Center, 60 Garden Street in Cambridge. The audience is invited to stay afterward for a discussion with the creative team. Tickets are free, on a first come, first served basis at the door. More details at: OFFICE FOR THE ARTS

[Caption: Helen Pickett choreographs for each person's body. ]