|| Helsingin Sanomat*
|| September 7, 2012
|| Vesa Siren
Raved by Mikko Nissinen as a dance prodigy, Cirio returns to his winning stage in Helsinki as Boston Ballet’s Principal Dancer
Calling all dancers! The Boston Ballet is rehearsing their brisk contemporary choreographies at The National Opera’s main stage and there is a familiar face that stands out in the crowd. It’s Jeffrey Cirio, Boston Ballet’s new principal dancer and the ballet world’s new prodigy.
“He has the technical ammo of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Michael Jackson. He is an incredibly talented dancer”, boasted Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director, the 50-year old Mikko Nissinen to Helsingin Sanomat last Spring in Boston.
It remains to be seen if he will live up to the standards. On Saturday and Sunday Boston Ballet will perform four contemporary pieces of which Cirio will dance in all but one. Cirio is returning to his winning stage as he became familiar to the Finnish audience when he won the Junior first place at the 2009 Helsinki International Ballet Competition. Before that he had won a bundle of trophies in the United States.
“The competition in Helsinki was one I really wanted to compete in. It truly was such an honor when I was the first American to have won. It opened my eyes to the world and enabled me to build new connections,” he reminisces.
When Cirio was a little child, his favorite sport was football, but following in the footsteps of his big sister Lia, he went to ballet classes at the tender age of nine. “Back then it was a popular hobby amongst young boys so it was great fun.” When he was 14-years old he thought about quitting but his success in competitions changed his mind.“I fell in love ballet and decided to become a professional”.
In addition to classical ballet he also took some hip hop classes with his friends.
“It was all fun and games and I didn’t realize that our Director would even mention it later on. But today’s contemporary choreographers utilize hip hop and breakdance in their work. My background in hip hop has been surprisingly useful in my career as a ballet dancer.”
One day, a 15 –year old Jeffrey followed his sister to the Boston Ballet School.“Mikko immediately offered me an internship but I still had to go to school.” In between he studied and danced in Orlando, until Nissinen invited him in 2009 to become a fulltime dancer with the company.
“I started at the Boston Ballet as a dancer and worked my way up to become a soloist. This year, after my Second performance as Basilio in Don Quixote, Mikko told me he was going to promote me to become a Principal Dancer. It was asurprise, an important moment and very moving at the same time. Mikko is a tough yet an encouraging leader.”
The confident Mikko Nissinen says the Boston Ballet is “full of stars” and the newcomer Cirio is one of them. Cirio is part of the ensemble in Christopher Wheeldon’s “Polyphonia” and William Forsythe’s “The Second Detail”. In Jorma Elo’s “Plan to B” however, he has a very important part.
“My next challenge is Boston Ballet’s upcoming season; the new “Nutcracker” choreographed by Mikko, as well as Jorma Elo’s new premiere and a whole evening of Jiri Kylián. It will be a lot of fun.”
The brother and sister team are both a part of the 10 principal dancers of Boston Ballet, which in the US is quite an achievement. Boston Ballet is the fourth biggest dance company in the United States and has probably the most adventurous repertoire of them all. The three other companies that are bigger are American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.
So what about the future? Cirio has choreographed his first work where he has utilized his background in hip hop. His colleagues are certain that Jeffrey will become an Artistic Director of some dance company one day. For now however his focus will remain as a principal dancer for years to come.
“I am very happy in Boston, but who knows, maybe one day I would like to get to know Europe better. Maybe I’ll a start a ballet school with my sister or even a contemporary dance group.”
Boston Ballet at National Opera’s Main stage Saturday September 8th at 2pm and 7pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets 23, 50-60 Euros – Wheeldon, Elo, Pickett, Forsythe
*translated from the original Finnish