Performing Arts: Dance
August 18, 2016
Philadelphia’s BalletX returned to the Joyce for it’s third visit in recent years, offering up a varied program of three works. The company, which strives to mesh the classical pillars of ballet with new age forms has set itself apart with its niche market of repertoire and dancers. They aren’t ballet dancers attempting contemporary or vice versa, instead they have a relaxed and easy approach to ballet with a bit of an edge or dare I say…an X factor.

Matthew Neenan, a co-founder of the company as well as resident choreographer to the Pennsylvania Ballet presented ‘Show Me’. Quartets formed the base groupings, mixing sexes naturally and effectively. Neenan breaks some ballet ‘rules’ inventively in a way you don’t think twice about.

The occasional overused idea comes into play (speaking on stage, breaking the ‘4th wall) but those minor moments are more of an afterthought. Each step flows into the next, as the dancers literally whisk themselves into filed lines before blowing away into the wings or into new groupings center stage.

The ease, the breath is enjoyable to watch. Neenan still leaves room for development and exploration- the core of his choreographic practice however resonates progressively.

Jorma Elo’s ‘Gran Partita’ follows and is pretty but lacks depth. It’s neoclassical ballet at the core without feeling or excitement. Again, there is the motion of unspooling lines and groups that unravel into solos and duets- the format being something not new for Elo.

Trey McIntyre’s ‘Big Ones’ closes the program, set to an array of Amy Winehouse songs. McIntyre is a true master of the contemporary ballet. Everything he does from music choice to costume selection (by the creative Reid Bartleme & Harriet Jung) is original and most importantly entertaining.

Large bunny like ears are worn by the cast of 10 that curve high above their heads. As they begin to undulate their bodies, accordion style images call our attention repeatedly. Gestures make up the base of much of the movement. At once casual and technical, one swipe of the arm leads into a full body motion that adds the kick of a leg or a jump that drops to the floor.

Neenan is on his way to develop a strong voice in the field, McIntyre has established his and I only long to see more of it put to action.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon

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