Boston Ballet is launching BB@home, a new lecture-performance-event series, at its recently renovated 19 Clarendon St. headquarters.
The series will be based in Studio 7, a vast space within the South End building that has been transformed into a contemporary black-box theater. With 144 seats, the space offers what artistic director Mikko Nissinen strived for: intimacy.
“Usually, you don’t get to experience ballet in this setting,” says Nissinen. “Here, it’s in your face. You have courtside seats to see the athleticism of the performance much more. It’s a wonderful tool that adds a whole new arsenal of engagement and showcasing that’s fun for both the audience and the artists.”
Among the space’s amenities are motorized in-ceiling storage and thick sheaths of crimson curtain. “There’s an incredible sound system and top-notch professional lighting, but the cherry on top of everything is the retractable seating,” Nissinen says.
On Aug. 29, an audience will get to try out those seats at BB@home’s kickoff, a program previewing works that will be performed in Boston Ballet’s September tour to Helsinki, Nissinen’s hometown.
“We’re going to where I started,” says Nissinen. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Ballet. I’m proud of the company and talent we have here.”
The program includes Christopher Wheeldon’s “Polyphonia,” Jorma Elo’s “Plan to B,” Helen Pickett’s “Tsukiyo,” and William Forsythe’s “The Second Detail.”
“I put together a very edgy, avant-garde, artistic dance. We have the most serious commitment to contemporary dance, but the mix of three different kinds of repertoire makes [our performances] inclusive instead of exclusive,” Nissinen says.
BB@home’s name is designed to suggest an intimate inside peek at Boston Ballet. “This is where we work all the time. This is our home, and we’re welcoming people into it,” says Nissinen. “I’m trying to make the art form relevant, to actually speak to today’s people,” he adds. “Instead of sitting back and admiring the art from a distance, I want my audience to be totally engaged.”
An earlier version of this story included an incorrect reference to Boston Ballet’s 50th year. The company turns 50 in 2013.