Meet Boston Ballet School’s newest choreographer

Boston Ballet School Staff

Double Concerto Rehearsal

Double Concerto Rehearsal

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

Meet long-time faculty member Igor Burlak, the choreographer behind Next Generation’s world premiere, Double Concerto.

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

Photo credit: Rosalie O'Connor

This year’s exciting Next Generation program features Pre-Professional Program students and Boston Ballet II dancers in Christopher Wheeldon’s The American, Raymonda Act III choreographed by Marius Petipa / Mikko Nissinen, and a world premiere by BBS faculty member, Igor Burlak. We went behind the scenes with Igor Burlak to learn about his new piece, Double Concerto.
 
The music you’ve chosen by Bohuslav Martinů is so powerful. How did the music influence the choreography, or did the choreography lead you to select the music?
 
I was intentionally started by looking for music because Margaret Tracey, Director of Boston Ballet School, wanted me to challenge myself and choose music out of my comfort zone. So I went to Arthur Leeth, Music Administrator and Chief Librarian, and I said I want some strong music. I knew I wanted strong music because I have strong students.  I heard a lot, and at first I wasn’t a fan of anything but then I heard Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani (H.271) by Bohuslav Martinů. Just hearing the intro, I was like “yes!” I knew it right then—it is energetic and powerful, with so many layers that you can get mesmerized.
 
You recently named your piece Double Concerto. How did you choose this name? 
Naming a piece is one of the hardest things. I wouldn’t say it’s easier to choreograph, but it’s more natural for me to choreograph than to think of a name. I couldn’t just name it something like, “The Dance of the Girls.” It felt natural to name it for the music since it is what inspired me.
 
What is your favorite aspect of being a choreographer?
 
All of it! The process, but also seeing the end result and how everything comes together. I want the students to have a good time. It’s a learning experience no matter what we’re doing. I’ve done a few pieces before, but this is actually the longest piece I’ve ever choreographed. It’s 20 minutes with three movements.  
 
A dear friend of mine, who is a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, saw part of the piece and he said of the pas de deux, “Igor, this is the kind of stuff that I do!” He was like, “dancing this is really hard.” I have faith that my students are up for the challenge. Go big or go home.
 
What is your favorite part about collaborating with Pre-Professional Program students to create the piece?
 
I know their style of dancing. I can look at someone and immediately know their strengths. It’s fun to collaborate because it’s a different environment. It’s not like a class where I’m sharing steps with them. This is a teaching process as well, but it’s also a collective creative process. And so exciting that the final result of all of that work together gets shown on the Opera House stage.

Double Concerto Rehearsal

Double Concerto Rehearsal

Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini

Can you describe what a typical rehearsal week looks like for you as Next Generation gets closer?
 
I have about five to six rehearsals a week. I started preparing for this one-night-only event in January. Some rehearsals last for half an hour, some for two hours. I work with different groups of students at a time. In the piece, I have 12 corps ladies, four corps boys, two demi soloist ladies, one principal boy, and one principal girl. Margaret Tracey has been my ballet mistress, which has been a huge help and a great learning experience because of her background. I’m getting knowledge of how her rehearsals used to run back in New York City Ballet. It’s been great.
 
What do you hope the audience will take away from your piece?
I hope the audience sees the musicality in the steps. Also hear how incredible the score really is! Putting movement to that, it’s like the full package. It’s what ballet is about—showing the emotion between the music and the choreography.
 
What’s your favorite part of Next Generation?
It’s a great opportunity to see the future stars of Boston Ballet at the Boston Opera House. And because of Donna and Michael Egan’s generous donation, all ticket sales will support scholarships for our students. These kids work super hard, it’s a huge commitment and you don’t want to miss the most exciting night of the school year.

Boston Ballet School's Next Generation

June 6, 2018

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director
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