Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
BalletX, a contemporary ballet company based in Philadelphia, performed to a packed house in the Lang Performing Arts Center this Friday. The company, which has seen a rapid rise in attention and fame since its inception ten years ago, was brought to the Swarthmore campus with the William J. Cooper Grant and the support of the Music and Dance Department.
Rebecca Malcolm-Naib, an associate Professor of Dance at Swarthmore, and a member of the board of directors of BalletX, was one of the main reasons for the company’s visit to campus. She and Sharon Friedler, a Professor of Dance at Swarthmore and former head of the Dance Department, decided to bring BalletX to campus in order to expose the community to a ballet company.
“Sharing BalletX with the Swarthmore community made perfect sense […] The performance of BalletX offered the Swarthmore audience a chance to view an incredible contemporary ballet company flourishing in Swarthmore’s own backyard,” Malcolm-Naib said.
BalletX performed four pieces on Friday, consisting of a total of two hours of dance.
The first piece performed, entitled Slump, included eight dancers and as described in the program, “is a wild, aggressive dance about courtship and the instinctual rituals of mating set to Klezmer, jazz, and mambo music.” It was a quirky, bright piece that enticed a number of laughs from the audience with its slight vulgarity of movement and comedic facial expressions.
It’s Not a Cry followed Slump. This piece, set to the song Hallelujah, was a duet between a man and a woman who the program described as exploring “the passing of strength between the partners during dark times.” Throughout the piece, the two dance together in an intimate way, moving fluidly through each other’s arms even in lifts and jumps.
The third piece, called Risk of Flight, consisted of ten dancers in black, form-fitting clothes. This piece in particular accentuated the dancers’ athleticism, pairing sharp, jolting movements and languid gestures filled with palpable tension.
The last piece, The Last Glass, a staple of BalletX’s repertoire, was a thirty-minute ballet set completely to music by Beirut that showcased the joys of movement. The color scheme was also bright and cheerful and the dance came across as a sort of celebratory occasion.
After performing The Last Glass, the dancers took the stage in their final company bow, and the entire theater gave an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Coming out of the performance, Rachel Isaacs-Falbel ’19 had a new appreciation for BalletX and dance in general.
“[The performance] renewed my belief in the future of dance because it’s not splitting off in two different directions with just ballet and modern but [BalletX] shows that you can combine the two to create something completely unique and appreciated by vast audiences,” she said.
Featured image courtesy of balletx.org.