|| Boston Herald
|| March 27, 2011
|| Keith Powers
Is the whole always greater than the sum of its parts? If so, “Elo Experience,” an amalgam from Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer Jorma Elo, which opened Thursday at the Opera House, is a success.
Blended from a half-dozen riveting works, “Elo Experience” offered the first full program by the Finnish choreographer. Buzz — fueled by a Shepard Fairey–like advertising campaign, and buttressed by the respect Elo (rhymes with “hello”) receives from dancers and collaborators — filled the air.
Elo deserves that respect. His movements have an idiosyncratic energy that makes you feel like you’re witnessing something special — the same energy, one imagines, that accompanied early performances of George Balanchine and Martha Graham. You’ve never seen anything like this, but it still seems natural. It’s demanding for dancers, without seeming superhuman.
The dancing — set mostly to Tchaikovsky, but interspersed with either baroque pieces (Biber and Vivaldi) or modern works by the likes of Philip Glass — was brilliant. Elo’s aesthetic creates a stage where modern dance and classical ballet have finally come to happy agreement. He imagines the two worlds existing in harmony, his dancers moving freely from gracefully paired pas de deux en pointe to robotic, staccato, cell-phone chatting.
The best choreographers create signature moves and are known for them. Elo’s signature emerges from the accumulation of unusual, organic phrases. Some are comic: the way partners interact without touching, the way a dancer is dragged across the stage. Some are dramatic: incredible positions
Yet “Elo Experience” left a lot to be desired. There is an attempt at a unifying narrative using a pair of miked dancers — boldly imagined by Larissa Ponomarenko and Jeffrey Cirio — who recite an unhelpful dialogue of non sequiturs. “How fast was I going?” “We always go to the same place.” “Did I leave the door open?” These enigmatic utterances do not help this variety show of great individual parts to coalesce.
And in a disturbing development, the pit was dark the entire performance. Pre-recorded music was delivered through a barely adequate sound system. For a creator so deeply inspired by great compositions, this artistic decision needs reassessing.