BalletX’s first Choreographic Fellow brings diverse Asian influences

Yin Yue, Daniel Mayo, Chloe Felesina, and Edgar Anido rehearse. Photo by Bill Hebert.

East meets West when choreographer Yin Yue’s work is performed during BalletX’s Winter Series.

Yue, who was born in Shanghai, China and is based in New York, is BalletX’s first Choreographic Fellow. The contemporary ballet company began the program last year “to provide a talented, emerging choreographer the opportunity to create new work under the mentorship of a world-renowned choreographer.” She’s working with Trey McIntyre, whose work has been performed by American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Moscow Ballet Theatre, and more.

Yue’s excited about the work she’s doing: a world premiere that is part of BalletX’s annual Winter Series. (The Series also includes a world premiere by McIntyre, which explores the complexities of an artist’s relationship to self-expression and judgment as well as an expanded version of company cofounder Matthew Neenan’s “Show Me,” a dreamlike piece.)

Something new for the Western-trained dance world

Yue’s work will incorporate elements of Chinese classical dance as well as Mongolian and Tibetan folk styles. She’s aiming to explore life and death, memory and oblivion. Yue chose to include elements of FoCo Technique, which she describes as “a specific way of moving influenced by Chinese classical dance as well as folk dance, especially Mongolian and Tibetan dance elements,” because it’s not something the mostly western-trained dancers of the company and their audiences are used to.

The work, featuring four men and three women from BalletX and original music composed by Juliane Jones and Doug Beiden of Ragged Silk, is inspired by ideas about life and death and what we think about the length of life: “We think it’s a long time,” she said. “What would compare to the time when we are dead?”

“An emotional journey” through dance

McIntyre has given her a great amount of freedom and support, but Yue said the most helpful thing he did was to guide her by asking, “how do you associate this darkish concept with your personal life? What happened to make you want to explore this area?”

The answers become clearer as she puts the piece together. She had ideas written out, but as the movements happen and she sees and hears the music with them, things change. It has a story line, but “not a solid one, you know, like Shakespeare,” she said. “There are still moments of gray area.”

She hopes the audience will feel an emotional connection even if they don’t see the story that she’s presenting the same way she does. “There’s freedom of interpretation. They can see if it fits within their own life experiences,” she said. The most important thing to her is making people feel, as she does when she’s creating. “They’ll be on an emotional journey.”   

BalletX’s Winter Series runs February 10-14 at the Wilma Theater, 265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. For tickets, call 215-546-7824 or click here

Above: BalletX Choreographic Fellow Yin Yue. Photo by Bill Hebert. 

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