Edge of Vision

by James Mahaffey

By the grace of the old gods and the new in the course of 48 hours I took in Boston Ballet’s Edge of Vision twice and in the presence of three wonderful women. It’s ok to envy my good fortune, you should, but "to whom much is given, much will be required". So just hours before the “fight of the century” as I eagerly anticipate world-class boxing, I'm also a novice tasked with writing my second ballet review. Edge of Vision is a triple bill with works from some of Boston Ballet’s favorite choreographers; Helen Pickett for Eventide, Boston Ballet Resident Choreographer Jorma Elo Bach Cello Suites and Lila York for Celts respectively.


Live, masterful, artistic performances are like smelling salts to my soul and without warning Eventide grabs you the very instant the curtain raises. Science suggests I blinked at least three hundred times during this ballet but I’d beg to differ. Beautifully executed movements by a parade of dancers, Resident Choreographer for the Atlanta Ballet, Helen Pickett’s second coming of Eventide is smooth and sultry, sexy and exhilarating all at once. Treat yourself to a swift and effortless transition from the overwhelming press of a Monday morning to your first sip of wine on a midsummer Friday when your obligations may only be to relax, befriend a cocktail or to love.

"Eventide 1" Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 

"Eventide 1" Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 

Ballets are productions that require much of the choreographer and dancer(s) and plenty still of its musical pairing and set design to create spontaneous-seeming escapades. At the very least it needs the movements and the music to achieve this. Eventide does everything well and I'd like to first discuss its music. There are only a few things I love more than music and so when a sound moves me I can’t help but seek it out. Armed with the power of proven algorithms and a thirst for Eventide’s sound; a quick hunt for treasure in Google, Youtube, and Spotify delivered an album entitled 'Passages' by Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar. (Jan Garbarek also receives credit for Eventide's sound.)

'Offering' is the opening selection for Eventide (and first track from 'Passages'). This song is the musical equivalent of sipping malbec quickly and deliberately, pausing along the way only to confirm retreating inhibition, returning to your objective until a proper mood has been set. Have malbec, play ‘Offering’ and thank me later. 'Meetings Along The Edge', the sixth track from 'Passages' I believe is the second selection used in Eventide. This song shares similar elements with 'Offering' but tells its own story with a more hasty pace and quite appropriately greets us at the height of our dance inspired inebriation, gently pushing us to the edge of our seats before ending abruptly.

Choreographer Hellen Picket succeeded in meeting the potential of Eventide’s sound by creating an erotic exchange and inclusive arrangement proving you don’t have to be a principal dancer, center stage, or under the brightest light to move the audience. In fact it was the staggered entrances by several dancers on each side of the stage that stole the show in my opinion. Eventide received a long and deserved standing ovation and left me with a flirtatious smirk for my beautiful date.    

"Eventide 2" Image by James Mahaffey ©2015

"Eventide 2" Image by James Mahaffey ©2015



Bach’s Cello Suites has been used widely in film and television for plot shifts and montages and to occasionally convey some sense of temporary refinement and sophistication within a narrative that lacks such sentiments. In Hangover II ‘Stu’s' soon to be brother-in-law ‘Teddy’ plays Bach’s 'Cello Suites No. 1' (while he still has all ten fingers) to which Alan (Zach Galifianakis) hilariously gives an emphatic thumbs down. Well it’s time to revisit this work of art. Cellist Sergey Antonov’s version was hypnotic and robust, transfixing the audience until graciously giving us back to the spectacle of dance. Antonov’s 'Cello Suites No. 1' competes with any version of Bach’s work considered to be great. This timeless composition still resonates today and Boston Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Jorma Elo’s expression of the Cello Suites offers a proper presentation of Bach’s work. The most mediative of the Edge of Vision triple bill, this world premier of Elo’s Bach Cello Suites ballet, sits perfectly between Eventide and the lively Celts ballet. 

All Images by James Mahaffey ©2015

I found myself having a drink in the same bar as Elo after the show and I was tempted to approach the entourage of Boston Ballet’s elite to ask Elo about his decision to be a part of the show and literally guide the dancers on stage. Beyond being impressed by his undeniable talent and preservation of form, I’m specifically curious about the sequence between Elo, Kathleen Breen Combes and Jeffrey Cirio. Was Elo trying to depict a loving, involved father closely monitoring the courting of his daughter, occasionally providing direction and observing the trios’ ability to align? Or is that just my own fatherly strategy spilling into this review years before its implementation?

I overheard others seated nearby discussing what the story was behind the dance. I understand the urge to ponder such things and create context for ourselves when taking in the arts. Interactions in ballet such as Elo’s though provide enough universal familiarity that one is able to draw their own conclusion. Only two ballet reviews in, thus far I’ve also found that when a performance is riveting enough to the senses it needs little explanation to successfully entertain or ignite our own creativity.


Celts is an irish jig, a propped up party of folklore and dance. It’s undoubtedly fun and this final ballet of the Edge of Vision triple bill was the crowds’ favorite. I heard several women, including the one I was lucky enough to escort opening night that this was their favorite and I can see why. It begins with an opening number from principal dancer Jeffrey Cirio that compels even the coolest of us to nod approvingly in astonishment of his footwork. Complimented by costumes that capture the spirit by Tunji Dada, and choreography by Lila York that uses the dancers themselves as set design, Celts will send you on your way primed to dance or engage in some cardio routine.  

All Images by James Mahaffey ©2015

To see these dancers perform is to witness Olympic-level displays of fitness and strength, live in the majestic Boston Opera House. (The theater itself competes with any performance for your admiration.) And after some inner reflection on how or why you haven’t met your physical goals you begin to move past that to a better place and simply enjoy the display before your eyes, appreciating these artists, these athletes and their commitment to giving their all to put on a good show for our mutual, collective benefit. 

Edge of Vision begins it’s second week tomorrow and continues through Saturday.

Days after I began writing this review, with the results in from "fight of the century" it’s clear that expectations were set too high for casual boxing fans. A bout that some thought should be a brawl was instead a dance between great athletes as some boxing can be. Well I’m officially making a case for the ballet for anyone seeking to be entertained. For less money come witness a dramatic display of dance between great athletes in a grand space and have some wine while you do so. “He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fools his whole life long.”- Martin Luther.  The only thing left to do now is find out who's joining me next time?

"I'm just a man who was invited to review a ballet" 

written by James Mahaffey  james@tangibletransmedia.com

Source: http://www.tangibletransmedia.com/becoming...

"Tonight we summoned spring"- Review for Boston Ballet's triple bill SHADES of SOUND.

by James Mahaffey

Recently I was invited by the Boston Ballet to review their triple bill Shades of Sound that features three distinct works: Chroma (choreographer Wayne McGregor), Episodes (choreographer George Balanchine) and Black Cake (choreographer Hans Van Manen). Summoning musical vibes from renowned greats like Tchaikovsky as well as modern day influencers like the White Stripes and boasting one of the “largest groups of Boston Ballet Orchestra musicians” ever this show is as much about sound as it is about dance. In order to paint a proper picture for fellow newcomers such as myself to the contemplation of ballet I would like to speak about what resonated with me.

Wayne McGregor - CHROMA  

I’m inspired by creative excellence, both the process and the end result, the artist and the song, film, painting or screenplay they create, regardless of the musical genre or creative discipline. When others flow and move with only the current, British choreographer Wayne McGregor swims with a tide of his own creation. He’s a force whose movements you’ve probably already experienced if you happen to like music, dance, film or visual art as this man’s work can be found everywhere and rightfully so. If you don’t believe me or the New York Times claim that McGregor is "doing some of the most exciting work on the planet" venture down this rabbit hole of awesome. Wayne McGregor is the choreographer for Chroma and this fact alone warrants a visit to the Boston Ballet. 

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 

George Balanchine - EPISODES 

I’ve seen Episodes twice now and I have to admit the second time around I was prepared to not “get it” yet again. I was not looking forward to it. My first viewing was the dress rehearsal and I came away thinking the collective movement was too busy consisting of too many fits and jerks. This time it was completely different. Fits and jerks became rhythmic fits and perfectly timed bursts. I could not have been more wrong with my first interpretation. Episodes was in fact a presentation of dance where each performer displayed almost mathematical maneuvering and precise control of their body, literally not skipping a beat. It was during this energized performance, made even more fantastic by it’s musical score that I knew winter was ending and lost all worry it wasn’t.   


CONCERTO, OPUS 24 (Episodes)

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 

Rarely an envious man am I, tonight my composure would be tested. Simultaneously embraced by five powerful women, experts in their craft, I have yet to be and here is where principal dancer Paulo Arrais found himself. Despite the initial appearance of this arrangement of bodies this short sequence was not necessarily about him and more appropriately about principal dancer Lia Cirio together with Maria Alvarez, Ji Young Chae, Corina Gill and Brittany Stone.

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 

Quickly I surmised a suitable premise for this sight before me; playful troop occasionally grants a trusted friend to borrow their fellow sister in dance to earn his keep and then attempt to pay his way with passion rarely disturbing the troops pursuits. And in the time it took me to come to that premise the sequence was over. It was short, it was sweet, neither mishandled or overdone. It was perfect and I was filled with envy. 

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015

Hans van Manen - BLACK CAKE

"ASHLEY's MARCH" (Ashley Ellis and Lasha Khozashvili) 

Ashley Ellis could be described as a spoiled kitty or unconquerable lioness when she marches across the stage over coming Lasha’s resistance. Her hips twist precisely, each high step just as pronounced as the last, defiantly outstretched arms not to the sky, but more deliberately risen just above the shoulders like an aggressive swan. This stance alone, this quick struggle for power should be posterized as the new symbol for the equal pay and gender equality movements and every young girl should see it in action. 

Image by James Mahaffey ©2015 


Perhaps thats why “In 1996 the Dutch COC awarded him the Bob Angelo Medallion for "the way in which he portrays men and women, human relations and sexuality in his ballets and photography… which can aptly be named liberating in every way”. It makes sense that displays of human strength can be found even within the playfulness of this mostly lighthearted exchange. For the moment let me assume choreographer Hans Van Manen determined that this spirit must make this journey, to assert herself and pitch her own ideas to a typically less welcoming board of male executives and against the wishes of her male colleague (Lasha Khozashvili).

Pair a vivid imagination such as mine with an impervious display of individual progression such as her’s and anything is possible. Isn't that one of the perks of the arts?  

The audience has the right, if they also possess the ability, to wander between narratives and context in the vast depths of their mind. To be inspired and entertained without disturbing their closest neighbor. We can interact with what’s presented to us however we choose and after an historic winter, trapping most of us indoors for the greater part of a month I recommend an act of spontaneity to anyone this finds.  

Why not visit the Boston Ballet instead of heading to a movie sequel, prequel or 4th installment of a franchise that was best served with one telling? We all fall into the same routine at times. I do it myself. After all I'm just a man who was invited to review a ballet and thank the heavens I was. I left the ballet relaxed, yet invigorated and creatively inspired. This began as a creative assignment and who knows where it will end. Shades of Sound is light and airy, rambunctious and intense and because of this well designed concoction by Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen on this night we turned our nose up to an historic winter. The company danced, the audience agreed and together we summoned the spring. You have exactly three shows between now and Sunday to do the same.

written by James Mahaffey  james@tangibletransmedia.com @Tgbl_Transmedia

Boston Ballet
Shades of Sound: Chroma, Episodes, Black Cake 


by James Mahaffey in ,

**WINTER SESSION 2 DAD & ME (0-6 MONTHS)3/8/2015 - 3/22/2015 Now open



Sun, Feb 1, 20159:30am 
Sun, Feb 22, 201510:30am

Congratulations you did it!  Well she did, but you were right by her side.  Now you’re all home and the real journey has just begun.  The first 3 months of parenthood can be extremely fulfilling, yet challenging at times for not only the baby or new mom but for new dads as well.  This class is an opportunity to:

-find your place in this new equation
-bond with your baby
-adjust to the ever changing reality of fatherhood
-find ways to help mom during this time
-and share your experience in a fun, relaxed and supportive environment with fellow fathers and their newborns.

Nothing is off limits during these sessions.  We will discuss everything from swaddling to sleep deprivation, shared caregiving to career adjustments.  The role of the father is evolving right before our eyes and as dads we’re on the frontline of the most significant mission one could face -raising another human being.  So bring your bundle of joy (and noise) and let’s navigate this stage together.  We will learn, grow and be lead by our common desire to be the best father’s we can be.  Moms are irreplaceable.  Fathers are too.


PRESS-2015- MASSLIVE.com -New MA law grants fathers paternity leave

by James Mahaffey



BOSTON - When James Mahaffey, 37, of Boston, had a choice between renewing a contract with an investment company and starting his own media production company, he chose the latter. Part of the reason, he said, was he wanted time to spend with his newborn child.

Mahaffey, a father of two who co-founded a Boston dad's group and teaches classes for new fathers, said men he knows typically cobble together a couple of days of holiday leave or vacation time to take care of their babies.

Requiring companies to give new fathers time off, Mahaffey said, could have "substantial benefits to society as a whole."..


..Mahaffey said he hopes a cultural shift accompanies the new law, in which employers tell employees that it is okay to take the time off.

"One thing you'll have with men and fathers, maybe it's there, but it's unspoken or not really talked about enough that you should really take the time," Mahaffey said.


Thank you Britax!

by James Mahaffey

These four walked away wiser and with free Britax car seats last night. Thanks Britax and Britax Child Passenger Safety Technician Sarah Tilton for the informative and candid conversation about the best practices for transporting our children safely.  As a city dad that occasionally uses taxis when traveling with my children I learned quite a bit on how to do so more safely and efficiently.  Thank you Little Lovage Club for hosting the Boston Dads Group! It's a great space.  #BritaxSafety #CityDads  


by James Mahaffey

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
— Buddha




"Dad & Me" quickly becoming a new dad's best kept secret.

by James Mahaffey

We just finished up our second session of Dad & Me at Little Lovage Club and Lovage Babyblends and I'm sad to see it end. This is one of those situations that you never expect to become such an integral part of your weekly routine but it quickly does. It's therapeutic, it's honest, it's laid-back, it's informative and adds perspective to a situation that us dads previously went through alone (in some ways). Technically, I teach the class but I assure you I got just as much out of it as anyone else and I couldn't have asked for a cooler group of guys to hang out with these past few Sundays (hence our decision to continue to meet). Even second timers like me could stand to benefit. So if you know of any dads (and babies) that are looking for some sort of outlet or dedicated dad/baby time, or a mom looking for a few sunday mornings to herself check out the link and register for our next session. http://ow.ly/CHlTO    -reporting from the #frontlinesofFatherhood

Fun for dad & toddler.

by James Mahaffey

One parent/caregiver participates in the class to best support each child. Urbanity's classes for our young movers are a combination of yoga, music and dance. Sessions are designed to help children develop strong, limber and healthy bodies while having fun and meeting other children. This unique combination increases focus, concentration, teamwork, musicality, balance and coordination.

Parker J. Palmer

by James Mahaffey

New leadership is needed for new times, but it will not come from finding more wily ways to manipulate the external world. It will come as we who serve and lead find the courage to take an inner journey toward both our shadows and our light—a journey that, faithfully pursued, will take us beyond ourselves to become healers of a wounded world.
— Parker J. Palmer

For the sandwiched generation.

by James Mahaffey

Recently The Boston Center for the Arts featured contributions of local adults from the Ellis Memorial Adult Day Health Program in the South End.  This is just another example of how Ellis helps it's clients, their families and our community thrive by keeping the great depth of wisdom and energy of these respected community members active and accessible to all.  

Our Adult Day Health Program (ADHP) is a medically based community health model for elderly and disabled adults. It is designed to enhance the quality of life for the individuals we serve and keep them living with their families or in their own homes in the community.

"The Sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children."


Wellness Development (for fathers and men) ..+infants, toddlers

by James Mahaffey

Thank you to all those who have expressed interest in the upcoming season of dad/men's classes.  The fall and winter schedules for "Becoming a Ninja/ Frontlines of Fatherhood Wellness Development (for fathers and men)" as well as our other classes for active dads, infants and toddlers (all taking place here in the South End of Boston) are currently being finalized.  Email me directly at james@tangibletransmedia.com or subscribe to the blog to be the first to know about the fun journey we'll be taking together.  

The day is ours.

by James Mahaffey

Gentlemen of the Boston Dads Group, City Dads Group brothers, active dads and notable fathers,  

Happy Father's Day. 

Thank you for taking the time to occasionally meet up with your fellow dad.  The fruit of such important camaraderie stands apparent and our opportunities for fellowship appear to be increasing organically in earnest.  That’s no small feat.  You can feel the fervor active dads have created. 

I salute you all.  The day is ours gentlemen.


The Boston Dads Group, Co-Founder

City Dads Group