LONDON — Boston Ballet has begun its 50th year with a leap of faith. Over the past decade, artistic director Mikko Nissinen has taken the company on tour to Spain, South Korea, Canada, and Finland. On Sunday, however, Boston Ballet completes a five-day engagement in London — home of the Royal Ballet, some of the world’s most knowledgeable ballet audiences, and some of the world’s most demanding ballet critics. When you tour to London, you’re saying you think you’re ready for the big time. To judge by its first performance Wednesday evening, Boston Ballet is indeed ready.
The pieces you take on tour define your company as much as how well you dance them. For the company’s first trip to London in 30 years, Nissinen decided he wasn’t going to make a story ballet one of his two programs, arguing that the city doesn’t need to see another “Swan Lake.” I actually think London might have enjoyed seeing Boston Ballet in Frederick Ashton’s “La Fille Mal Gardée” or John Cranko’s “Onegin.”