Boston Ballet presents “Thrill of Contact”


Boston Ballet concludes the spring Perception series with Thrill of Contact, a striking program featuring musical precision and impressive athleticism. The first of four works presented in this program is George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, intended to-as Balanchine wrote-“evoke that great period in classical dancing when Russian Ballet flourished.” The company will perform a world premiere by Principal Dancer Jeffrey Cirio, entitled, fremd. Cirio’s ballet will explore the foreign or strange – reaching beyond the boundaries of traditional ballet. Adding to the evening’s legendary lineup, the company performs the fourth work of William Forsythe’s in Boston Ballet’s repertory, the exhilarating ballet The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, noted as the most difficult ballet ever performed” (pnb.org). The company also debuts the highly characterized Jerome Robbins’ masterpiece The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody), which Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times comments, “surely no funnier ballet has ever been choreographed.” Thrill of Contact will run May 14 – 24 at the Boston Opera House.


Thrill of Contact is a cool collection of dance in diverse artistic voices ranging from the iconic masterpieces of Balanchine and Robbins to exhilarating works that push our art form forward,” said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, adding: “This program is a culmination of the fascinating choreography and outstanding artistry our company has presented all season long.”


Theme and Variations


Considered a crown jewel of Balanchine’s career, Theme and Variations is a glittering work set to an expressive and grand Tchaikovsky score. The ballet premiered in 1947 at New York’s City Center by American Ballet Theatre. It was created to be reminiscent of the wedding scene in TheSleeping Beauty, set to a score Tchaikovsky completed in between his great works Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. The ballet has no plot, but is filled with the classical romance of Imperial ballet at its heyday. According to New York Herald Tribune‘s Walter Terry, “Balanchine invigorates traditional movements by forming them into new sequences…His use of interlacing patterns, of complex body weavings for groups is as much a part of the ballet’s elegance and beauty as is the glittering processional which brings the work to a close in a fabulously beautiful and spectacular burst of imperial pomp.” Linda Huang of World Arts Today describes this Balanchine choreography as, “constantly shifting formations of bodies in space [that] make Theme and Variations a mesmerizing work of architecture.”


George Balanchine (1904 – 1983) was invited to move to the United States from Russia in late-1933 by Boston born dance connoisseur Lincoln Kirstein, whose vision was to establish a school of ballet and a company comparable to one in Europe. The result of this vision and collaboration was the School of American Ballet and ultimately, the New York City Ballet where Balanchine became the Ballet Master and Principal Choreographer. He is one of the 20th century’s most prolific choreographers creating more than 400 works in his lifetime, and is known for his musicality and signature “neoclassical style”.




Principal Dancer Jeffrey Cirio’s first main stage work, fremd-meaning alien or strange-is choreographed to soundscapes and music by Chopin, John Field, Byetone, and Aphex Twin. Cirio states that his vision is “to reach outside the box with no inhibitions…to explore what it means to face the unfamiliar and how we can step past boundaries or obstacles even when we fear the unknown behind them.”  Cirio’s style is naturally influenced by the choreographers he has had the privilege of working with at Boston Ballet, including William Forsythe, Jorma Elo, and Wayne McGregor. His style of choreography is collaborative; allowing dancers to explore their range of emotions though movement and personal portrayal of the work.


Jeffrey Cirio is a Principal Dancer with Boston Ballet. Cirio trained with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Boston Ballet School, and Orlando Ballet School. Cirio joined Boston Ballet II in 2007. He joined Boston Ballet’s Corps de Ballet in 2009, was promoted to Second Soloist in 2010, to Soloist in 2011 and to Principal Dancer in 2012. Cirio was awarded the coveted Princess Grace Fellowship in 2009 and he is the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including the Grand Prix medal and gold medal in the 2006 Youth America Grand Prix and the gold medal in the 2009 Helsinki International Ballet Competition.


While preparing for the Helsinki International Ballet Competition, Cirio decided to create his own solo, Fleeting, which was extremely well received and ignited his interest in choreography. Since then Cirio has been invited to create works for Boston Ballet’s annual Ball (Surface to Air), for Boston Ballet II (From Zero 2 Five in 48 and Extraction^4), and for Ballet Academy East in New York City (Eight Sides). In 2013, he choreographed of Trial for Boston Ballet’s BB@home series, which was also performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Cirio was commissioned to choreograph a world premiere for Boston Ballet’s 2014-2015 season.


The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude


The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitudehad its world premiere with the Frankfurt Ballet in 1996, featuring a dizzy delight of technique and speedy precise movement. Set to the final movement of Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, this magnificent display of classical technique celebrates physical mastery and precision and is described as “a deliberate look backward at the history and traditions of classical dance. In its crisp footwork (and even crisper tutus), its courtly partnerings, the miniature, divertissement like solos and pas de deux that keep appearing and mutating throughout the work, it throws witty nods to Petipa, Bournonville and Balanchine while keeping a near-humorous lightness of tone that nicely matches the infectious Allegro Vivace from Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in C major” (Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times). Intensely physical, the ballet is known as one of the most challenging to execute; it is an 11 minute burst of energetic and elated movement. The dancers’ powerful performance is a visible triumph as they seek exactitude as artists. “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is also a clear celebration of the dancers and his or her ability to transform technical difficulty into mastery, the incarnation of a tradition in dance” (ballet-de-lorraine.eu).


William Forsythe danced with the Joffrey Ballet and later the Stuttgart Ballet, where he was appointed Resident Choreographer in 1976. Over the next seven years, he created new works for the Stuttgart ensemble and ballet companies in Munich, The Hague, London, Basel, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, New York, and San Francisco. In 1984, he began a 20-year tenure as director of the Ballet Frankfurt. After the closure of the Ballet Frankfurt in 2004, Forsythe established a new, more independent ensemble. The Forsythe Company, to which he served as director until 2015, founded with the support of the states of Saxony and Hesse, the cities of Dresden and Frankfurt am Main, and private sponsors, is based in Dresden and Frankfurt am Main and maintains an extensive international touring schedule. Forsythe’s most recent works are developed and performed exclusively by The Forsythe Company, while his earlier pieces are prominently featured in the repertoire of virtually every major ballet company in the world, including The Kirov Ballet, The New York City Ballet, The San Francisco Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, England’s Royal Ballet, and The Paris Opera Ballet. In 2015 William Forsythe will join Paris Opera Ballet as associate choreographer and spend three months of each season in Paris, teaching and creating.


The Concert, (or, The Perils of Everybody)


Robbins’ The Concert, (or, The Perils of Everybody) is a light-hearted ballet about the complexities of relationships and what it means to be human. A comic parody of a classical music concert, it is also an honest insight into human nature. The Concert premiered in 1956 and is a comic masterpiece performed by companies around the world, and is now the fifth Robbins piece in Boston Ballet’s repertoire. New York City Ballet explains Robbins’ “work is characterized by the intensity and compactness of its expression and its wide variety of mood – whether it be rhapsodic, introspective, poignant, or hilarious.”  A brilliantly crafted ballet about a group of characters that find themselves in everyday and relatable situations is brought to life by Boston Ballet’s talented and versatile dancers. With it being “less a satire ballet and of Chopin than of the human comedy” (Anna Kisselgoff,The New York Times), The Concert is quite possibly the greatest comedic ballet ever created and has achieved remarkable staying power.


Jerome Robbins is world renowned for his work as a choreographer of ballets as well as his work as a director and choreographer in theater, movies and television. His Broadway shows include On the TownBillion Dollar BabyHigh Button ShoesWest Side StoryThe King and IGypsyPeter PanMiss LibertyCall Me Madam, and Fiddler on the Roof. His last Broadway production in 1989, Jerome Robbins=Broadway, won six Tony Awards including best musical and best director. Among the more than 60 ballets he created are Fancy Free,Afternoon of a FaunThe ConcertDances At a GatheringIn the NightIn G MajorOther DancesGlass Pieces and Ives, Songs, which are in the repertories of New York City Ballet and other major dance companies throughout the world. Excerpt from Jerome Robbins © Jesse Gerstein


For full choreographer biographies, please visit http://www.bostonballet.org/spring2015-choreo/.


All performances of Thrill of Contact take place at the Boston Opera House:


Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 7:30PM


Friday, May 15, 2015 at 7:30PM; Post-Performance Chat with Mikko Nissinen


Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 1:00PM and 7:30PM


Sunday, May 17 2015 at 1:00PM


Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 7:30PM


Friday, May 22, 2015 at 7:30PM


Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 1:00PM and 7:30PM; Pre-Curtain Talk prior to 7:30PM performance


Sunday, May 24, 2015 at 1:00PM


 Tickets start at $29. For more information, visit www.bostonballet.org or call 617-695-6955.

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