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  • Two ballet dancers on stage performing a student work called “Woodwork”.

Alumna helps point Boston Ballet to virtual success

Planning dance company tours, connecting professional dancers with the community and visiting young dancers in their schools would have been impossible just two years ago as the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Now, Juliana Jordan is making these plans and more while finding her groove as company manager for Boston Ballet. 

Jordan took over managing Boston Ballet’s company dancers just five months before COVID-19 shut down so many businesses, including in-person dance productions.  

Seemingly overnight, Jordan had to shift from managing personnel to restructuring how the company functioned — and figure out if it could continue to operate during the pandemic. 

“My job very quickly became about safety,” she says. 

To do this, Boston Ballet moved its performances to a fully virtual format. With Jordan overseeing the dancers, the theatre was outfitted with Zoom capabilities, and choreographers relayed their vision over video chat from as far away as the Netherlands.  

One of those was Dutch choreographer Nanine Linning. She directed the company in “La Voix Humaine,” a performance based off a French opera which depicts a woman having a final phone conversation with her lover who is leaving her for someone else. 

“In her isolation, solitude, desperation, and despair, she must deal with letting her beloved go,” Linning interprets from the story. “Themes of isolation, letting go of a loved one, and farewell resonated with me and many of us in the times we [were living] in.” 

Though the somber themes matched the way many across the country were feeling during quarantine, Jordan did her best to keep spirits high. She says she couldn’t have done it without the team of staff at Boston Ballet. 

“These experiences emphasized the incredible necessity for collaboration and communication among colleagues,” Jordan says.  

“Having such an industry disruption was a wakeup call for our regular business model and operations but also showcased the power of creativity and working together to solve unthinkable problems in a very short amount of time.” 

Through their collaborative efforts, Boston Ballet was able to keep every dancer in the company employed throughout the pandemic. 

Jordan may have honed her problem-solving skills through the pandemic, but she’s never been short on creativity. 

The pandemic gave me a greater appreciation for how each person contributes, and the value in bringing others in to learn and support each other with a greater understanding of how we all work together.

Juliana Jordan
Juliana has long dark hair and wears a monogramed jacket and a mask, and she stands in front of the Boston Ballet building.

A dancer finds her niche 

Jordan got her start in dancing at just three years old, and eventually discovered her interest in Russian language and culture through ballet. 

She attended the International Ballet Academy in Greenville, S.C., where her teachers were Russian-speaking dancers from Ukraine who, at the time, didn’t speak much English. 

“I loved hearing them speak and being able to emulate the sounds,” Jordan says. “That’s where I started connecting dance with the Russian language.” 

She traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, as part of the dance exchange program at her academy and had the opportunity to perform at the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet there. 

After spending time immersed in the language, Jordan knew she wanted to pursue both Russian language and dance in college. She found this exact intersection at the University of South Carolina — the only university to offer a ballet-focused dance major and the only Russian major program in the state. 

Jordan studied under Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis who encouraged her talents for composition and choreography. 

“I loved having the ability to tell a story and have a commentary through creating dance,” Jordan says. “Tanya and Thaddeus do a lot of narrative and social commentary in their pieces, and I got into that.” 

Jordan brought her choreography skills to Belgorod, Russia, during her travel abroad experience with the Fulbright Program at UofSC. There, she taught an improvisation dance workshop to her English students and community members. 

When she returned home, Jordan went to work as artistic operations director at the International Ballet Company. 

“I found myself enjoying the administrative side, doing all the things behind the scenes that pull a dance company together,” Jordan says. 

That career shift was an important one, as was one particular trip to visit friends who’d recently moved to Boston. 

She fell in love with the city and began planning her move. She found a job with the New England Conservatory of Music and enrolled in the Boston University arts administration master’s program. 

“It was a crazy leap, but it worked out,” Jordans says. 

It wasn’t long before Jordan made another, even greater leap. One of her colleagues took note of her special knack for working with dancers and the administrative side of the business and recommended she apply for an opening at Boston Ballet. 

The rest is history. 

Finding a new rhythm 

Jordan has mostly settled back into her pre-pandemic daily tasks of working with new hires, managing physical therapy and wellness for the dancers, logistics, liaising with the different departments and management teams and preparing for next year. 

Jordan says the upcoming performance season is sure to be an exciting one, with new performances to push the boundaries as well as some classics that everyone can enjoy.  

“We are welcoming new dancers from all around the world and preparing for the exciting new and returning productions to come,” Jordan says. 

She is also collaborating with several company dancers on a project they started during the pandemic. “Meet the Dancer” connects professional dancers with young students who are just being introduced to the world of ballet.  

The project holds a special place in Jordan’s heart, borne from a desire to prioritize individuals within a mission-driven organization. 

“It’s so important for each person to value and support the contributions that each department or role makes to accomplish that mission with excellence,” Jordan says.  

"The pandemic gave me a greater appreciation for how each person contributes, and the value in bringing others in to learn and support each other with a greater understanding of how we all work together.” 

As for her immediate plans, Jordan says she is looking forward to ending the season with a nod to where she started. 

"We will close this season with Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake,” Jordan says. “Swan Lake was meant to be the close of our season in 2020, so this feels like we’re coming full circle on my ‘first’ season with the company.” 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.