BB at Your Home: Celebrating Jorma Elo

Boston Ballet débuted their BB @ Your Home season last Thursday with a performance that audiences can watch from their own homes. The performance is a montage of recently filmed dances and a retrospective of performances developed over the past decade with long term Boston Ballet resident choreographer Jorma Elo. Some of my favourite pieces over the years have been Jorma Elo’s work. When I was invited to review the performance I was hesitant though because of this new format. I have seen a variety of virtual performances over the many months of pandemic some more successful than others. I am happy to report that this was an extremely enjoyable experience and watching Boston Ballet beyond the walls of the Opera House and Clarendon St. Black box performance space can be refreshing.

The newly filmed pieces and world premieres made for this virtual performance format, were a wonderful way to be somewhat in the moment while also tying the rest of the previous performance videos together. One of the unique aspects of these BB @ Your Home performances is that you have 10 days to view them. Being able to rewatch pieces several times is a nice perk, and so is being able to see the show any time of day based on your schedule and mood. You could even stop the show for a long intermission. A performance is designed to be watched in one sitting, so I do recommend watching from start to finish and not a little bit here and there.

The relationship that Elo has with Boston Ballet is quite special. It was Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen’s artistic insight and vision early on that led to this rich and varied body of work that you get to experience in a very intimate way.

It was clear Jorma’s work was a good fit for Boston Ballet and in 2005, I named him our resident choreographer. Since then, he has produced 15 world premieres for the Company. He has been a major part of the development and versatility of our Company dancers through his unique movement vocabulary that bridges classical and contemporary ballet. Through 15 years of working closely with Boston Ballet, and with each new work for the Company, the relationship and process with the dancers grows deeper, enabling his work and our artists to be more personal, poignant, and vulnerable. Jorma has also evolved his style to incorporate new-classical elements. -Mikko Nissinen

Lia Cirio and Paulo Arrais in Jorma Elo's Bach Cello Suites
Lia Cirio and Paulo Arrais in Jorma Elo’s Bach Cello Suites, photo by Rosalie O’Connor; courtesy of Boston Ballet.

Bach Cello Suites has always been one of my favourites. It makes sense to include this newly filmed version for the performance. It is filmed for this new normal and is beautifully danced by Lia Cirio, and Paulo Arrais. The show begins with Plan to B danced by Lia Cirio, Ji Young Chae, John Lam, Patric Palkens, Tyson Clark, Tigray Mkrtchyan. I’m not sure if it is the format of video or the pandemic and finally being able to perform again, but the dancing felt so refreshing and free. This lightness is something that I have not seen from these dancers on the stage in such a way before.

The world premiere piece taps into something we are all experiencing and expresses things that are difficult to put in words but we can connect with by watching the dance. It is called Story of a Memory and is performed by Viktorina Kapitonova and Tigray Mkrtchyan.

 Boston Ballet performance Robbins/The Concert Whitney Jensen, Bo Busby, and Jeffrey Cirio in Jorma Elo's Plan to B

Boston Ballet performance Robbins/The Concert Whitney Jensen, Bo Busby, and Jeffrey Cirio in Jorma Elo’s Plan to B, photo by Gene Schaivone; courtesy of Boston Ballet

The second part of the performance is like a masterclass in the works of Jorma Elo. It is also wonderful to see some of the dancers who have moved on to the next chapters of their lives either dancing elsewhere or starting a new part of their careers or family lives.

You can purchase a subscription to all three
BB @ Your Home performances for $90. The next performance opens on March 25th and is The Art of Classical Ballet with newly filmed excerpts of everyone’s favourite classical ballets.

Boston Ballet in Jorma Elo's Creatures of Egmont
Boston Ballet in Jorma Elo’s Creatures of Egmont, photo by Liza Voll; courtesy of Boston Ballet


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