WINTER SERIES 2023 (BalletX): Past and present

Shawn Cusseaux, Francesca Forcella, Jerard Palazo, Eli Alford in Amy Seiwert’s A Long Night. Photographer: Vikki Sloviter for BalletX

BalletX’s 2023 Winter Series sees the company reaching back into their past and looking to the future, with new or reconsidered works by three contemporary choreographers. 

The emotional climax of the sold-out series comes in the final piece of the program, Scenes View 2 by Jorma Elo. In 2006, the newly founded company partnered with Nick Stuccio of FringeArts (then Live Arts) to produce one of Elo’s first choreographies, a work the Austrian-based Finnish creator now revisits nearly two decades later. 

Elo has become a much sought-after choreographer in the intervening years, and BalletX is an established force rather than a fledgling outfit. Company founders Matthew Neenan and Christine Cox danced in the original iteration. This year seven current members  (Eli Alford, Francesca Forcella, Jared Kelly, Skyler Lubin, Jerard Palazo, Ben Schwarz, and Ashley Simpson) perform. But the lively and complex piece, set to striking Bach string music, reminds us why BalletX first captured attention, and why they continue to do so.

Much has changed for BalletX since 2006, but the company’s commitment to commissioning new works remains. The program begins with a new work by choreographic fellow Gary W. Jeter II, Seeds. A large cast of dancers dressed in loose earth-tones simulate growth, from barely stirring seedlings to a writhing mass of bodies—an arresting final image.

The highlight of the program, A Long Night, sees Amy Seiwert playful choreography inspired by the couples’ sleep in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sequin-clad Eli Alford plays the mischievous Puck, casting his magic on the sleeping pairs Shawn Cusseaux, Francesca Forcella, Skyler Lubin and Jerard Palazo. Seiwart’s loose narrative follows Shakespeare’s comedic mix-up. Filled with humor as well as impressive holds and light en pointe dancing, to a varied playlist of dream-related pop across the decades, it’s a welcome dose of joy.

[BalletX at the Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street] March 1-5, 2023;

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