The show must go on.
A nor’easter had completely shut down Philadelphia, but Philadelphians showed their devotion to BalletX, filling the Wilma Theater to almost a full house on the snowy opening night. They know that the company almost never fails to deliver excitement and beauty of life, which many of us could use as help to keep going in this rather tough time. For its Spring Series, the company presented two world premieres by the very different but equally exceptional choreographers, as well as a beloved piece from 2014.
VIVIR by Darrell Grand Moultrie means “to live.” Darrell dedicated this piece to the culture, especially the latin music that he grew up in at his birthplace of Spanish Harlem. The Latin music and steps offer the exhilarating and dramatic taste at the first sight. However, it soon becomes clear that this is one of the most ballet-like repertoires by BalletX. The choreography demands the dancers to be off-center, off-balanced and impulsive unlike the so-called classical ballet, which gives the dancers freedom to be spontaneous to the unique rhythm of the songs and to be more dynamic. At the same time, the movements and steps are constructed on the fundamental positioning and steps of the classical ballet, which helps the dancers to give the clearer impression and intention of each movements. The female dancers noticeably displayed a drastic improvement in their pointe technics compare to the previous series. As the company that call themselves a ballet company, this would be a huge advantage to expand their possibilities.
After the first intermission is the company’s repertoire from 2014, INCREASING. Choreographed by the co-founder, Matthew Neenan to Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, it is a ballet of a simple beauty and exhilarating emotion. The music played live by alumni of Curtis Institute of Music reacts to each movement of the dancers. Joined by the guest dancer, Jenny Winton, they performed the piece fluently and powerfully.
The last of the series is the other world premiere, THE BOOGEYMAN by Trey McIntyre is a wacky, intriguing and gravitating piece. A man in his room wear in his bedroom, alone, has his headphone on and listening Got to Give it Up, Part 1 by Marvin Gaye. The song wouldn’t let him stay still. He starts dancing. He’s got the move. Suddenly, fluorescent light leaks into the stage. Under his bed starts flickering in green. He is bewildered as the audiences are intrigued. Out of nowhere, dancers in 70’s clothes burst onto the stage. Often songs are attached to certain period of times and memories in our lives. As the songs from 70’s are played, the dancers narrate the lyrics and the story through their bodies.
The program showcases the company’s unique character and the strength. BalletX is diverse. Not because of the diversity in their races and how each dancer looks, but because of the diversity and uniqueness in the physicality, personality and expression of each dancer, just like each of us is diverse and unique. Those elements are fused to create colorful and vivid pieces of art. And they always assure the audiences that being diverse is nothing to fear about, but it is beautiful, exciting and natural.
[The Wilma Theater, 265 S Broad Street] March 7-18, 2018; balletx.org