The Man Behind the Movement: Jorma Elo

A former hockey goalie, Jorma Elo is one of the hottest choreographers working today. Since 2005, he has served as the Resident Choreographer for Boston Ballet and was recently awarded the prestigious Prix Benoir de la Danse for 2010. He continues to develop his own distinctive language of movement.

About First Flash Jorma Elo's First Flash resists the usual form of a storytelling ballet. While other contemporary ballet pieces may have a theme or general subtext underlying the work, First Flash is a sensory experience, forcing the audience to reconcile the strange juxtaposition of ultra modern, avant-garde movement with Finnish composer Jean Sibelius's Violin Concerto in D minor. Elo's piece is highly physical, incorporating such unballetic moves as squats and hops in congruence with sweeping lifts. More than anything, First Flash will make you question the relationship between the music and the movement.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

Reviews of First Flash

In a duet with lush arabesques and lifts, the woman suddenly squats into a roly-poly and hops like a ball. Elo eschews the sentimentality begged by the mournfulness in selections from the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D-Minor. Instead, Elo offers a muscular counterfoil, except, say, when he echoes a string riff with a detailed, short-lived spasm. He renders Sibelius ultra-contemporary, down to a sneaky, repetitive re-looping of one section, transforming the composer into a percussive minimalist to show off a six-character tour de force. [read full article here]
Jorma Elo's 2003 "1st Flash" is a reminder that the young Finnish choreographer has already developed an unmistakable style. The stage is eerily lit, partially by the large rectangle that hangs upstage right (stark industrial lighting is another trademark). Elo's quirky movement - awkwardly yet appealingly vulnerable, like an adolescent who hasn't grown into his limbs yet - is often agitated. At times the dancers rush onto the stage as if late to work, and then hurl themselves into a phrase as if to overtake the clock. But suddenly a dancer will sweep languorously through a turn and it seems, comparatively, that time has slowed . . . for just a moment, and then the twitching resumes. [read full article here]

Jorma Elo's First Flash will be performed with James Kudelka's Man in Black and Christopher Wheeldon's Rush at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center March 23-25, 2012. The most celebrated choreographers in the world are Here. Now. In Atlanta.