This is the last week of rehearsals for the Kings of the Dance,
Opus 3. The show will open in Moscow
in just 7 days. Most of the pieces have already been set and are being polished in rehearsals. Mauro
Bigonzetti's lighthearted and soulful Jazzy Five, which will open the program, is completed, and
so is Marcelo Gomes' Ko'd, the beautiful, lilting final ballet of the evening. Nacho Duato's solo,
Kaburias, was set last week on David Hallberg, the newly minted Bolshoi Principal Dancer, by the
choreographer's long time assistant, Thomas Klein. Kaburias, inspired by Japanese kabuki theater and
the rhythms of Andalusian flamenco, is a hypnotic study in movement fusion.
Now it's Tuesday, September 27th, and a completely new work is
being created in the large windowless
rehearsal hall on the fourth floor of City Center. Jorma Elo, the Finnish-born resident choreographer of
Boston Ballet, is making a new solo, Still of King, for Marcelo Gomes to the first movement of Franz
Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 100 in G major.
It's 3:15 in the afternoon. Leonid Sarafanov is resting his legs
in a corner of the room. He has a later
rehearsal with Gomes who is choreographing Sarafanov's new solo for the program. Lighting designer
Tony Marques and production and stage manager Michael Vool wait patiently on plastic chairs lined
up in front of the long mirror. At exactly 3:30 pm Elo cues the music and Gomes walks slowly to the
center of the room. The dancing that follows is brilliant, full of mercurial shifts of mood reminiscent
of Leonid Jacobson's Vestris but fluid, modern and expansive. When Gomes is finished, everyone in
room, including Sarafanov, smiles with appreciation. Elo and Gomes have been working for the past
four days, but the completed solo will be at least 8 minutes long and two minutes of the music still need
to be choreographed.
The two men stand quietly in the center and go over the tempos
and phrasing for a passage that had
troubled Gomes during the run-through. They move silently to a far corner of the room and Elo
remains motionless for some time, his head bowed slightly. The dancer watches for what's to come.
Throughout the rehearsal Elo hardly speaks and when he does, it's so softly as if to himself. Finally
he turns to face the mirror and bourrees in six position back to the center of the floor. He pauses
contemplating his shape in the mirror, then a shoulder wave ripples through his body. He marks the
sequence again with Gomes following closely. “Ok, let's see what this looks like”, he says in his
characteristic hushed voice.
Elo seems to be that rare choreographer who doesn't bring prepared
material into the studio but creates
directly on and in front of his dancers. Before setting each phrase he assumes the last pose of the
preceding movement and remains completely still in a deep inner space until he knows exactly what the
next steps will be. It's a zen-like process. He signals a jump, and as Gomes vaults into the air, Elo softly
exhales, “Jesus, you are so good at it.” Gomes smiles warmly. His ability to immediately interpret the
outline of movement indicated by the choreographer, giving it full weight, emotional color and life, is
astonishing to watch.
“Will I survive this?” asks Gomes. “You'll die”, says Elo in
a reassuring tone. “Good!” is the dancer's
Text and photographs by Anya Korisch.