This story originally appeared in the April/May 2015 issue of Pointe.
Jeffrey Cirio is a busy guy. In addition to his career as a principal dancer at Boston Ballet, he's an emerging choreographer who also manages his own dance troupe: Cirio Collective. In May, Boston Ballet will debut Cirio's first piece choreographed for the Boston Opera House stage. Pointe spoke to him before the premiere.
What is your choreographic process like?
I always start with music because, for me, choreography is just an extension of the music. I want to work with people who are uninhibited, so that things can evolve during rehearsal. For this piece, I challenged myself to limit pre-planned ideas so I could discover things in the studio with the dancers.
Is it difficult to be in charge of a room of your peers?
There's mutual respect among my colleagues. We have fun, but they know when it's time to be serious—so I never have to "take charge." We work together.
What can we expect from your premiere?
The choreography is set to music by Chopin, John Field and something more abstract. It's definitely not a literal piece, and it's less balletic than what I've done before—it's grittier.
Which choreographers have had a major influence on your work?
I've had the opportunity to work with many different people, like Wayne McGregor, Alexander Ekman, William Forsythe and Boston Ballet's resident choreographer Jorma Elo. I have the utmost respect for Jirí Kylián, and Helen Pickett has given me great advice. They've taught me to be unafraid.
How do you balance your role as choreographer with your career as a principal dancer?
It can be very stressful at times, especially when I'm dancing in the same program as one of my own pieces. I keep saying I'll take a break, but I guess I don't know how! I feel like it's my duty to contribute to the dance community, and that keeps me motivated.