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Boston Ballet Presents BB@yourhome: Look Back, Focus Forward

Look Back, Focus Forward will premiere on Thursday, January 21 and will be available until January 31.

Boston Ballet presents BB@yourhome: Look Back, Focus Forward, an approximately one-hour long virtual program featuring historic Boston Ballet moments and artistic achievements, including the intimate ballets from Leonid Yakobson, international tours, and a preview of Ken Ossola's new work. Look Back, Focus Forward will premiere on Thursday, January 21 and will be available until January 31. Subscribers will receive a streaming link prior to the premiere.

"This program is a visual representation of Boston Ballet's journey and essence," said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen. "It will take a look at some groundbreaking moments, from historic tours to performing rarely seen works, as we enter a new year and look forward to the exciting future."

Look Back, Focus Forward showcases a series of works by transformative Russian choreographer Leonid Yakobson: Vestris, Pas de Quatre, and excerpts from Rodin. Specifically created by Yakobson for a young Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vestris is a seven-minute solo based on Auguste Vestris, the most famous of the Vestris dynasty of dancers in the 18th century. Pas de Quatre features intricate choreography for four women, representing a special sisterhood. Rodin is inspired by the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin and features a suite of duets or "ballet miniatures" (short choreographic studies on a given subject). Boston Ballet performed these works as part of the Rhapsody program in 2019, which "exemplifies all of the ballet's ever-expanding skill and character" (GBH). Boston Ballet is one of the few companies in the United States trusted to perform Yakobson's work today and is committed to carrying on his legacy. The program also contains commentary from dance historian Janice Ross, author of Like a Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia, and shares how he used his works as a kind of "stealth weapon" to challenge a repressive totalitarian regime.

Born in St. Petersburg in 1904, Leonid Yakobson (1904-1975) has been deemed a revolutionary choreographic voice of the 20th century. He trained at the Kirov Academy and was associated with the Kirov Company between 1926 and 1975. He choreographed for the Bolshoi Ballet until his death in 1975. By employing techniques that required unprecedented levels of athleticism, Yakobson's work was often censored by Soviet authority for challenging classical ballet. In his lifetime, he created 178 ballets-including dozens for individual dancers and for his own company, Choreographic Miniatures, which he formed in 1970. Yakobson inspired a generation of dancers from Russia including Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya, Alla Osipenko, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Natalia Makarova. While Yakobson's work is rarely performed today, his influence is still regarded as an important symbol of political resistance in the 20th century.

Look Back, Focus Forward also explores the importance of global outreach through touring by Boston Ballet, with a conversation between Nissinen and Principal Dancer Lia Cirio. Audiences will see highlights from tours to Spain, Paris, London, and New York, plus excerpts from Jiří Kylián's deeply moving Bella Figura. The program concludes with an inside look at the making of Ken Ossola's new work, as he choreographs from Europe through Zoom, which will premiere in the final BB@yourhome, Process & Progress. Ossola engages in conversation with dancers Paul Craig and María Álvarez, featured in his new piece.

In 1989, under the leadership of Gerald Tibbs and the artistic direction of Jiří Kylián, Ken Ossola joined Nederlands Dans Theater 2. For the next three years he developed himself as an artist working and creating with leading choreographers such as Hans Van Manen, Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, Martino Muller, Paul Lightfoot, Nacho Duato, Johan Inger, and Jiří Kylián. He then joined Nederlands Dans Theater 1. He collaborated with Jiří Kylián on many creations including One of a Kind, Blackbird, Tiger Lily, Wings of Wax, and Bella Figura. In 1999, he left to pursue his career as a choreographer. In 2009, using Faure's Requiem, he created Lux for Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève. In 2014, the company's director Philippe Cohen commissioned him to make a full evening tribute to Gustav Mahler and created Shadows Memories. In 2016, Gradimir Pankov, then artistic director of Les Grand Ballet Canadien, gave Ossola the opportunity to create a tribute to Sergei Rachmaninov. In 2019, he created for the Shanghai Ballet in collaboration with Yen Han Ballet for the Shanghai Art Festival. Currently, he is the resident choreographer at Yen Han Ballet. Ossola's connection with Boston Ballet began in 2010, when he staged Bella Figura, which made its North American premiere in 2011.

Boston Ballet's virtual season features new creations, signature works, and classical ballet favorites captured live in-studio. Dancers have been back in the studios rehearsing under a new health and safety plan, which was developed in partnership with a team of medical professionals and infectious disease specialists.

For more information on BB@yourhome, please visit Ballet Presents BB@yourhome: Look Back, Focus Forward

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