BalletX | Dance Center of Columbia College | Dance | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Sept. 20 2014
Price: $30
Philadelphia-based BalletX is making ballet new in the most glorious, unambiguous way—by commissioning original work from rising neoclassical and contemporary choreographers. Since 2005, artistic director Christine Cox has premiered at least five works every year. Instead of touring with old standbys, this company brings fresh gems. BalletX cofounder Matthew Neenan’s The Last Glass (2010), for example, is a pop revelation. It’s fair to say of these dancers that while ballet is their English, their first language is music, and in this case that includes songs by indie-folk band Beirut. Freakishly precise calibration makes it possible for these graceful movers to snap from wildly shimmying their hips to carrying off exquisite cabrioles, shifts that hook into the sound and look subtle and expressive rather than jarring. The ensemble pairs off into five couples, each with deftly developed quirks and stories. But it also moves as a group, a kind of visual backup band accompanying the central couple, whose bittersweet relationship ends with nine dancers streaming across the back of the stage as the female stands distant and alone. There’s a lot of polka and Korean folk dance in Joshua L. Peugh’s Slump (2012), which puts the body language of awkwardness and good and bad manners to fine use in a funny, boisterous piece about the pursuit and perils of romance. When he created the duet Valentine’s Day (2012), Peugh was thinking of both that holiday as celebrated in South Korea, where it’s strictly women who give gifts, and its Korean counterpart, White Day, when men reciprocate. Forget the idealized representations of love in classical ballet—there’s nothing ideal about this romance. After the male dancer relinquishes his support at a crucial moment, the female sinks into a deep, wide, vulnerable grand plie on pointe, balanced but still shuddering slightly. —Jena Cutie

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