“It’s like a whole renaissance, a new world,” says Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen. As he prepares to begin his third decade leading Boston Ballet next season, Nissinen sums up the excitement many in the arts world are feeling about a return to live performance. “Nobody knows exactly how, but people are going to be bursting with positivity and openness. I hope people have learned what it means when you lose something like live performance. We are very excited about the restart.”
Boston Ballet announces today some of the programming details for the 2021-2022 season at the Citizens Bank Opera House, which features eight world premieres, including five by women choreographers. All performances will follow government protocols for health safety.
The season is bookended by two of Nissinen’s most acclaimed productions for the company, beginning with “The Nutcracker” Nov. 26-Dec. 26 to kick off the holidays. The season finale is classical masterpiece “Swan Lake,” one of the most beloved story ballets in history, running May 26-June 5.
In between are three programs in 2022 that showcase the company’s versatility in contemporary repertoire. Spring programming begins with the culmination of the multi-year initiative to nurture female choreographic voices, “ChoreograpHER” (March 3-13). The program features world premieres by ballet superstar Tiler Peck, internationally known choreographer Claudia Schreier, Boston Ballet principal dancer Lia Cirio, and award-winning modern dancer (formerly of Merce Cunningham Dance Company) Melissa Toogood. In addition, acclaimed British-born visual and performance artist Shantell Martin will present her first choreographic work, and conceptual artist Emma McCormick-Goodhart will write what Nissinen describes as a manifesto about the concept of the ChoreograpHER project, which will have some form of visual representation during the program. “She will make a piece of art [that] encapsulates the essence of what this program represents. It’s almost like a constitution for the concept of giving louder voice for female choreographers.”
“DREAMstate (March 17-27) is composed of George Balanchine’s brilliant “Chaconne,” a reprise of Jiří Kylián’s knockout “Bella Figura,” and the world premiere of the new “DEVIL’S/eye” by Stephen Galloway, a former dancer at Ballet Frankfurt and choreographer/creative consultant for the Rolling Stones.
“MINDscape” (May 5-15) features a new work to the music of Bach by the company’s resident choreographer, Jorma Elo, plus the world premiere of “Blake Works II,” furthering Boston Ballet’s long-term partnership with choreographer William Forsythe. The program also includes the return of “Blake Works I,” both ballets continuing Forsythe’s probing choreographic excursions into the music of British singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist James Blake.
Even as the company revels in the return to in-person performance, Nissinen says inroads made over the past year with Boston Ballet’s first-ever virtual season will continue to fuel creative initiatives. “We learned a lot this year doing six programs of ‘BB@yourhome,’ and elements of that will continue,” he says.
Alongside its traditional season subscription of live performances, the company will offer a $140 digital subscription that includes pre-recorded versions of four programs. The first of these is “RestART,” Oct 28–Nov 7, celebrating the ballet’s return with new choreography filmed around the city, and offered only to digital subscribers. The package also includes the holiday-themed “The Gift,” set to Duke Ellington’s 1960 “Nutcracker Suite,” viewable Dec. 16-Jan. 9, as well as streamed recordings of “ChoreograpHER” in March and “Swan Lake,” in May-June.
Of the coming season, Nissinen says, “This is not just another page, this is the first page of a whole new book in life. Being live and bringing eight world premieres is a major coup. I’m just so happy that we are starting to look at the future through the eyes of new works.”
Karen Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.