Jorma Elo (30 August 1961, Helsinki, Finland) trained at the Finnish National Ballet School and at the ballet school of the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. At the age of just sixteen, he joined the Finnish National Ballet, where he danced from 1978 to 1984. He spent the following six years with the Cullberg Ballet in Sweden, and in 1990 he moved to Nederlands Dans Theater, where he became acquainted with the choreographers Jiri Kylian, Hans van Manen, Ohad Naharin and William Forsythe, among others. Elo ended his 26-year career as a dancer in 2004.
Four years before that, he had made his debut as a choreographer with The View from Over Here and Blank Snow for Alberta Ballet. After 2004, he choreographed regularly in the United States (Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Company) and in the Netherlands, mostly for Nederlands Dans Theater. He also created works for the Royal Danish Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet of Flanders, the ballet company of the Vienna State Opera and the Finnish National Ballet. Since 2005, he has been resident choreographer with Boston Ballet. By 2012, he had created over 50 ballets. He has also often designed the lighting and costumes for his ballets, and has developed as a creative video maker. Jorma Elo is currently one of the most sought-after choreographers in the world. Art critic Anna Kisselgoff from The New York Times called him a ‘talent to follow’. Elo’s artistic style consists of a synthesis of classical ballet and modern dance. In his choreography, he places an emphasis on athletic prowess and a dynamic movement vocabulary.
Jorma Elo has received numerous awards for his work. In 1980 and 1984, he took part in the International Ballet Competition in Varna (Bulgaria) and was a finalist at the International Ballet Competition in Helsinki. The latter also awarded him the Choreography Prize in 2005. In the same year, he received the Prince Charitable Trust Prize, which was followed in 2006 by the Choo-San Goh Choreographic Award.
Elo won the Benois de la Danse 2010 in the category ‘best choreography’ for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and for Slice to Sharp. For One/end/one, created in 2011, he was awarded the first Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance. The Finnish government awarded him the Dance Artist Prize 2012.