BalletX to perform at Bryn Mawr College on Dec. 1-2.
by Eli Bank, arts and culture editor
BalletX, the contemporary ballet company based in Philadelphia, is bringing a diverse production of people, sights and sounds to Bryn Mawr. Performing at Bryn Mawr College’s Goodhart Hall on Dec. 1-2, BalletX is returning to the Main Line for the first time since 2020. This is not your ordinary night at the ballet.
Over three performances – two evening shows and one matinee – BalletX will display its modern approach to ballet as choreographed by Matthew Neenan, Tiler Peck and Jorma Elo with live music from ensemble132.
According to Christine Cox, co-founder, artistic director and executive director of Ballet X, this performance is for everyone. “It’s exciting for us to come to Bryn Mawr,” she said. “We want to build an audience outside of Center City and bring our work to the community.”
Tickets start as low as $25, and Cox hopes that students and the wider Main Line community will experience the shows. “It’s going to be a fun program,” Cox says. “The act of engaging in community is just an act of saying yes to life, and we need to focus on the positive things about living together as humans. I hope people will come and experience that with us.”
This production is a true collaboration, featuring 14 dancers, live music performed by a quartet from New York, a new choreographed take on an old classic pop song and more.
The dancers range in age from 22-33. Some have worked with the company for 11 years, others for 11 months. “They really work together as a unit. You can feel the love that they have for each other in the performances,” Cox says.
This group of performers has a 49-week contract, practicing ballet in the mornings and then working on the styles of the choreographers in the afternoons. It’s nonstop work that pays off in their performances.
The program displays works from Neen, Peck and Elo, three renowned choreographers with incredibly diverse takes on ballet. No two pieces are alike. “We make all new ballets, so we’re bringing a collection of work that we love, and we think will be a nice selection for the audience to get to know the company if they don’t already know us,” Cox says.
Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja,” choreographed by New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck, will kick off the performance, followed by BalletX co-founder Matthew Neenan’s “Credo.”
“This is a beautiful piece inspired by his [Nennan’s] trip to India and some of the chaos, the travel chaos, the living chaos in India,” Cox says. “It’s a nod to a lot of us living here and we have this agreement of how we’re going to live together as individuals, but also as a gigantic community.”
Next up is a take on Chaka Khan’s 1974 hit “Tell Me Something Good” called “I Like You Different.” “We want to throw something fun in there so that everyone can have a good time and lighten up a little bit,” Cox says.
Jorma Elo’s moving piece “Scenes View 2” will close the program. Performing the music for these pieces is New York based group ensemble132. Cox states, “We’re so excited to have them come here to Philadelphia. They are a ‘yes we can’ ensemble.”
In the spirit of collaboration, BalletX wants to provide exposure for artists of all kinds. “We want to create opportunities for as many artists to experience a production and a moment in time together,” she says.
This production is one of the many reasons Christine Cox started BalletX. She was a dancer with the Pennsylvania Ballet for 13 years when she wanted more from ballet. “I thought that maybe ballet could be approached differently. That it could have that same rigor and that challenge of trying to master ballet, which is so hard, but we could take that same rigor and add other styles of movement to it,” she says.
Considered to be Philadelphia’s contemporary ballet, BalletX features more than “traditional” ballet programs with a goal to think, or dance in this case, outside of the box. But after a sold out show in Bryn Mawr three years ago, the company plans to continue to expand.
“Years ago, Bryn Mawr brought us out, which was a great test for us to see if there was an audience that would come out,” Cox says. “We sold out weeks before we even came. There’s definitely an audience out here, so instead of waiting to be presented again we are presenting ourselves’.”
Spreading the company’s performances further is just one part of a big plan BalletX has compiled. “We’ve also just completed a five-year strategic plan which is really a thoughtful, intentional step forward,” Cox says. “We believe it gives us a chance to share more of our work with more people.”
For the past 18 years, BalletX has achieved that and more, from building education, community and fellowship programs, to inspiring artists of all kinds. “I really do believe that artists change the world,” Cox says.
Goodheart Hall at Bryn Mawr College
December 1 at 7:30 pm
December 2 at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Tickets are available at balletx.org.
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