On Wednesday, April 20th, many DeSales University dance majors road-tripped to Philadelphia. Departing from the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, a bus took them to the Wilma Theater where they enjoyed exclusive access to a closed rehearsal for Philadelphia’s premiere contemporary ballet company, BalletX. There they were welcomed by the company’s founder and artistic and executive director Christine Cox and associate artistic director Tara Keating. After offering an overview of the program, Keating introduced one of the choreographers, Kevin O’Day. Opening that night, the Spring Series performance celebrated the prolific company’s tenth anniversary with excerpts from some of their most memorable pieces of the decade, as well as a new work by O’Day. Featuring one piece from each year since 2005, the program culminated in the world premiere of O’Day’s Time Curves. Each piece highlighted the versatility of the company members, varying immensely in moods, music, and approaches to the classical movement vocabulary of ballet. In the opening piece Frequencies (2005), a trio of two women and one man entered the space unexpectedly wearing sets of angel wings and executing sharp and precise movement with an underlying sense of struggle and desperation. Later on, The Last Glass (2010) involved all of the company’s ten dancers in whimsical costumes flying through the space in unrestrained revelry. The world premiere contrasted immensely with its mysterious, intense tone. The full company took the stage accompanied by a cellist and a massive hanging installation in what appeared to be an “X.” Implementing a strong use of breath, multiple costume changes, and risky, breathtaking choreography, this piece was a strong closer to the program and left little to be desired. At the conclusion of the performance, dance majors remarked at the inspirational effect of the artists’ insane physicality and technical prowess. Their fearless approach to partner work and the sheer strength with which they handled the difficult choreography brought everyone to a resolution to work harder in classes and tap into new creativity in their own works. Overall, the BalletX trip was an extremely worthwhile experience and just one of the many amazing opportunities enjoyed by dance majors at DeSales.
By Emmy Spaar (Sophomore Dance and English major)