Ballet X Review – Raising the Barre with Strength and Grace

 

With the high profile names in ballet troupes about to make the rounds through Chicago, it’s difficult to imagine that they will compare favorably to the lesser-known Ballet X.   Ballet X brings you a performance that not only stretches the boundaries of ballet choreography, but also opens a window on what dance looks like when men are more graceful and women emanate frank power and strength.

 

 

This is a repertory company that gives the dancers the chance to show their stuff with a variety of choreographers.

 

 

We should all keep our eyes out for works by choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, whose first two dances --- each quite distinct – captivated and transported us. 

 

First up was “Slump” where the dancers at rest were in round-shoulder pose, conjuring images of nerds who spend far too much time at the video game console.  Klezmer music, with some Ella Fitzgerald thrown in for contrast, gave the dance light-hearted comic spins, where hip rolling, and air head-butts akin to air kisses pepper the fun. 

 

The troupe boasts classic ballet technique, but here, albeit more mambo rhythms at times, it was also as if square dancing mated with hip-hop.  The colorful costumes by Stephen Smith—men in plaid or striped shirts and women in flirty brightly colored petticoats twirling—added to the performance to brighten the already light and fun feel.

 

 

In a total change of mood and seeming to add more letters to his choreographic alphabet, Joshua L. Peugh’s pas de deux “Valentine’s Day” was rich with transitions from loose limbs to dancer Andrea Yorita moving into rectangular leg points on toe hovering over her partner, Zachary Kapeluck.  These two dancers were in all four dances of the evening and as was pointed out in the post-show discussion this required rapid change in mood expressions, which they, as the whole troupe, did seamlessly.

 

 

The last two dances of the evening—first “Delicate Balance” by choreographer Jodie Gates and lastly “The Last Glass” choreographed by Ballet X co-founder Matthew Neenan were ensemble pieces – ten dancers—with much partnering as the dancers held forth on the full stage.

 

 

Here is a clip from “The Last Glass” showing how classic ballet moves created a moving geometric mélange. 

 

 

The ability of Ballet X dancers to create angles that melt with great fluidity is a delight to watch. 

 

Catching one of the two remaining performances (September 19 and 20, 8 PM) is highly recommended, especially tonight when there will be a pre-performance talk by the company’s co-founder and choreographer Matthew Neenan.

 

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago

1306 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago

 

For tickets visit The Dance Center web page or call the box office at 312 369 8330.

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