Boston Ballet to Celebrate Finland in Season Opener

 
Boston Ballet rehearsing Jorma Elo's Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius. Photo by Ernesto Galan, courtesy of Boston Ballet.

Boston Ballet rehearsing Jorma Elo's Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius. Photo by Ernesto Galan, courtesy of Boston Ballet.

 

In a momentous season opener on Friday, Boston Ballet will perform a double-bill featuring acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear and the world premiere of Jorma Elo’s Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius.

The evening also celebrates 100 years of Finnish independence from the Russian Republic, which occurred in November 1917. The performance features various elements from Finnish artists, beginning with an overture of Jean Sibelius’s Finnish song of resistance, Finlandia, the tune of which serves as the country’s national anthem. Jorma Elo, Boston Ballet’s Finnish resident choreographer, choreographed his ballet to the music of Sibelius; Obsidian Tear’s score was created for the ballet by Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen; and Boston Ballet is led by Finnish Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen.

Jorma Elo. Photo by Ernesto Galan, courtesy of Boston Ballet.

Jorma Elo. Photo by Ernesto Galan, courtesy of Boston Ballet.

“I left Finland a long time ago,” says Mr. Elo, “so my feelings for my home country are very much longing after my youth, my parents, my family, of course Finnish music, the Finnish national hockey team—those things that kind of make you feel patriotic.”

In his classical ballet set to Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony, Mr. Elo honors his country by reflecting what he feels the music evokes: Finland’s thunderous and pulsating nature.

“I find that the music is very much about weather patterns,” he told The Boston Dance Journal. “In Finland, that comes strongly; every season is so different from each other, not [in terms of] temperature, but color-wise, mood-wise. That’s what I so connect with the music—the nature, the changing of the landscapes in winter and in summer... how the light hits the nature.”

Mr. Elo makes manifest his memories through a large cast of three principals, four soloist couples, the corps de ballet (a rare phenomenon in Mr. Elo’s works) and one principal female who, he says, represents “thoughts of nature and the seasons, the line of time passing by.”

Boston Ballet will perform Obsidian Tear at the Boston Opera House, Nov. 3–12. For tickets and show times, visit the Boston Ballet website.