Boston Ballet films performance outside Opera House for virtual season


Lucia Thorne

45 Boston Ballet performers danced to Duke Ellington’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” outside the Boston Opera House, wearing street clothes as costumes.

By Lucia Thorne, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

Dancers of the Boston Ballet rejoiced Monday afternoon as they danced on Avenue de Lafayette for their first in-person performance since the pandemic spread through the country in March. This filmed performance will be used in the finale of “The Gift,” the virtual holiday show included in the Boston Ballet at Home programming, available online with subscription from Dec. 17 to 27.  

Several spectators watched as 45 of Boston Ballet’s 51 dancers performed a dance number to Duke Ellington’s “Waltz of the Flowers,”wearing street clothes as costumes. The performance was filmed by a cameraman standing on top of his truck in front of the Ballet’s home theater, the Boston Opera House.

The Ballet traditionally puts on around 50 performances of the original Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky version of “The Nutcracker” per season, but this year they opted to film a modern retelling of the classic ballet. The story follows a young girl, Pandora, opening a box her uncle left under the tree, releasing characters from the original Nutcracker and other contemporary characters prevalent in popular culture. This production will be set to Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite for the Ballet’s virtual season.

Both dancers and choreographers alike were elated to be putting on a production again, even though it’s virtual. Company dancer Molly Novak described how good it feels to be back and performing. 

“It’s exhilarating,” Novak said. “To see all of these familiar faces, beautiful and happy faces, is heartwarming.” 

Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen said it was nice to see the dancers performing again, recalling the disappointment felt when the pandemic first hit earlier this year. 

“This is the first time I’ve seen the company back since March 12,” Nissinen said. “I walked to the Opera House stage and told them [on] the day of the [Carmen] premiere that the show is not going to happen, nor will the run.”

Nissinen said the Ballet formed a committee to evaluate what steps needed to be taken to begin performing once again. 

To keep the dancers and staff safe during the pandemic, the Ballet requires weekly testing, teaching choreography in pods of 10, social distancing and has upgraded their studios’ air filtration system, Nissinen said. 

Novak said the Ballet has been very diligent and responsible with their handling of the pandemic. 

“Boston Ballet has been incredible in the whole process,” Novak said. “They’ve been so patient and considerate, and they’ve kept an open dialogue and listen to what we need.” 

Nissinen said the Ballet is planning to re-open come 2021. 

For dancers like Novak, having the opportunity to perform in front of a camera as opposed to no audience is greatly appreciated. 

“Honestly, I’m just thankful we can do anything at all,” Novak said. “We really embraced the situation and made the most of it. It’s been awesome.” 

Boston Ballet virtual subscriptions are available on the company’s website,