My’Kal Stromile debuts first Boston Ballet mainstage choreographic piece
Boston Ballet company dancer My’Kal Stromile has an impressive stage history. He’s received The Juilliard School’s Choreographic Honors three years in a row, won the Hector Zaraspe Prize for choreography in 2018 and has been executing immaculate work with the Boston Ballet for five years. This fall, Stromile will debut his first mainstage choreographed piece, “Form and Gesture.”
The inspiration for the piece came from a setback. Stromile injured his shoulder, and while recuperating and watching the ballet from the sidelines, he was inspired by the audience perspective of the dance genre.
“This came out of this necessity to make a dance that is accessible for people who either are ballet lovers and they see ballet regularly [or] for people who have never seen ballet before,” says Stromile.
Part of making ballet accessible is showing work that is easy to digest and understand, part of it is showing a diversity of styles and movements and part of it showing a diversity of people on stage. The Boston Ballet is becoming more diverse with each year, but initially Stromile was one of just a few Black dancers on the stage.
“As an art form, historically, it’s been something that has been reserved for a particular demographic of people,” says Stromile. “It’s important for people to see themselves represented in all parts of society.”
“Form and Gesture” is structured in five sections: Exhibits A-D and an entr’acte, a pause between the two halves of the performance that also includes dance. Each exhibit explores a different component of the ballet experience both from the dancers’ perspective and from the audience’s. Stromile says he thinks of “form” as referring to the precise, technical side of ballet and “gesture” as referring to the emotional motivation of a particular dance. Both sides are key to performing and understanding a ballet.
“For me, it’s the definition of Boston Ballet,” says Stromile. “It’s when you pair technical excellence with artistry and with emotion, and having that balance between being a really great dancer but also being an artist who has a story to tell.”
“Form and Gesture” will debut during the Boston Ballet’s “Fall Experience” show, a suite of four pieces running Oct. 5-15.
This will be Stromile’s first mainstage piece performed at the Citizens Bank Opera House. The last piece he choreographed for the Boston Ballet was a piece in the 2020 video production “The Gift,” debuted during the pandemic shutdown. Since his work on “The Gift,” Stromile’s choreographic style has evolved under the tutelage of choreographer William Forsythe. Stromile says he’s learned more specifically what kind of movements can physically articulate the complex thoughts in his mind.
“I want to remind the audience that life is about choices, and that everything they are seeing on stage was a choice,” says Stromile. “In my choreographic life, nothing has happened by mistake. So to translate that to people outside of dance, I want to remind them that there is so much power in the choices that we make.”