Stay in the Loop
BSR publishes on a weekly schedule, with an email newsletter every Wednesday and Thursday morning. There’s no paywall, and subscribing is always free.
In April, Covid-19 struck BalletX, resulting in the cancellation of most of its run at Glen Foerd. Now back on their toes, the company is ready to inaugurate their new residency at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts with signature piece The Last Glass by Matthew Neenan, and two new works: Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Midnight Circus and Jennifer Archibald’s Exalt.
Small company, big surprises
For BalletX, the residency means they’ll have an annual spot on the Mann calendar. Founder and director Christine Cox describes BalletX as “a small dance company pushing hard to put Philadelphia on the map as an innovative, creative hub for new works of all kinds.” She says the residency puts the company on par with world-class organizations that the Mann partners with, like the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a resident company, she wants BalletX to create a family-friendly environment where generations can come and celebrate dance, which includes expanding the performance to range beyond the stage. “Come early,” she said, “We have some pop-up performances planned all around the campus. We have a real fun surprise before the show for the audience.”
We’ve had a long wait to see the BalletX dancers hit the stage, but it looks like our patience will be well rewarded. I’ve always loved Neenan’s The Last Glass for the end-of-a long-night in the demi-monde sensibility reflected in the motley frills of Martha Chamberlain’s costumes and the boppy wistfulness of Beirut’s music. Ochoa is another company favorite choreographer. When we talked in April, she was working with the music of Manuel Wandji, a French and Cameroonian percussionist and singer of contemporary jazz that leans heavily into his African cultural roots. She promised monochrome clowns and was thinking commedia dell’arte.
The Mann is a big venue and Cox talked about the challenge that presents. “We are a small dance company. How do we think about popping out of the stage?” Ochoa rises to the occasion and says—watch for the benches that become part of the dance!
Archibald brings toe shoes to the after-hours club in her piece, Exalt, set to a playlist of house music. Cox says they are kindred spirits: “I would dance ballet during the day, and then I would go out and dance in clubs just for the pure freedom and joy of movement. [So] every time I go into the studio I just want to get up and dance.” She thinks the audience will feel the same.
What, When, Where
BalletX Spring Series. Choreography by Matthew Neenan, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Jennifer Archibald. Presented by the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. $15-$50. May 18-19, 2022, at the Mann, 5201 Parkside Avenue. 215-225-5389 or balletx.org.
The TD Pavilion at the Mann is a covered, outdoor venue. All guests must show either proof of full vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of the event prior to entry. Masks are not required at this performance.
For the Mann's accessibility details, please visit manncenter.org/visit/accessibility.
Sign up for our newsletter
All of the week's new articles, all in one place. Sign up for the free weekly BSR newsletters, and don't miss a conversation.