SUMMER SERIES 2016 (BalletX): Lost in the unreal moment

Identity without Attribute. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
Identity without Attribute. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

BalletX, Philadelphia’s most innovative and thrilling dance company, brings yet another spark to the Wilma Theater. For the fourth and the last program of their 2015-2016 10th anniversary season, the company allies with Klip Collective, an experiential virtual art shop, and presents two world premieres. And they are exciting, thrilling, powerful and intense.

The first of the two world premieres, Identity Without Attribution is an homage to Toni Hamilton, a friend and supporter of BalletX, who passed away in 2015 after suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. It starts with Caili Quan on the stage in simple white linen shirt and pants, standing and looking lost. Gradually, other dancers slips in her spiritual world, also in simple white costumes. Black lines of geometric patterns are projected on the white background, expanding and shrinking as if showing her overwhelming emotion of fears and confusions.  

The piece consists of five parts, but the intensity that the dancers create hardly gives viewers a moment to breath in between each segment. While Matthew Neenan’s theme is Toni’s emotional struggles to stay balanced as her memories slipped, the choreographer provides far-reaching interesting insights through his work. The dancers at BalletX, who are all different in so many ways in race, gender, physical appearance, and personality, have such power to go beyond any borders through dancing, reminding us the depth of an identity in a person that is much more than just how he/she looks on the surface.

Scene from Bonzi. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
Scene from Bonzi. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

After a short 15-minute break to get back to reality, the dancers take the audience to yet another surreal world with Bonzi, the second world premiere of the evening. Bonzi, a boring and depressing salesman with a briefcase in his hand, knocks on a boring closed white door hoping sell to the product. It’s a daily routine, but today something unusual happens: The door that usual never opens slides to the side on wheels. Apples and white clouds scatter and float on the back screen. Expressive hands invite Bonzi to get lost in the surreal world. Female dancers on pointe surround him voluptuously.

Choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa was inspired by the Belgian surrealist painter, René Magritte, who lived in the town in Belgium where Ochoa grew up. She has choreographed Sombrerisimo, that was also inspired by the painter, which was performed by Ballet Hispanico in February 2016. Comparing those two pieces show how wide and creative Ochoa’s imagination is. Unlike Sombrerisimo, which is filled with the reality of the dark shadow of masculine sensuality, Bonzi is unrealistic and unexpectedly fun. It reminds me of the meaning of the art; it lets us break free from our own fixed idea about our life and the world we live in.

This is a not-to-miss show for anyone who loves any form of arts, or for those who don’t but just need some time to get lost to rediscover their sense of reality.

[The Wilma Theater, 265 S Broad Street] July 6-17, 2016;

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