To expand or to tweak? Perhaps both, for BalletX.
This innovative group explores athleticism, emotion and grace in their dance. More importantly, upon personal discretion, BalletX adapts the vocabulary of classical dance to appeal to a more present-day audience.
According to the Chair and Resident Choreographer for the College’s Department of Dance Stephen Rooks, “BalletX is Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company. BalletX unites distinguished choreography with an outstanding company of world class dancers. The company was founded in 2005 and challenges the boundaries of classical ballet by encouraging formal experimentation while preserving rigorous technique.”.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Miriam Mahdaviani-Goldstone elaborated, “At Sunday’s performance, works by four noted choreographers will be presented, including work by BalletX’s founding artistic director, Matthew Neenan, who is also the highly acclaimed resident choreographer of the Pennsylvania Ballet.”
BalletX, comprised of about a dozen dancers, puts on three annual performance series with audience members of all ages and backgrounds at the Resident Dance Company of the Wilma Theater. The group participates in both national and international tours.
BalletX’s contribution to the American dance community has been recognized and supported by grants and donors.
Member of VRDT Anna Beeman ’18 explained, “BalletX is a well known contemporary ballet company residing in Philadelphia, PA. Vassar has been extremely fortunate to have acclaimed ballet companies and dancers in the past such as Alvin Ailey, Daniil Simkin’s Intensio and Sara Mearns. BalletX is another great company with a wonderful reputation in the dance world.”
Mahdaviani-Goldstone added, “Neenan is in very high demand all across the country, so it is a big honor that he has carved out time in his schedule to bring BalletX to Vassar.”
Rooks echoed similar sentiments. He asserted, “This show continues our department’s commitment to bring fine dancing to [the] College.”
Advanced dance students will also benefit from the opportunity to take a master class with the Associate Artistic Director of BalletX Tara Keating.
Beeman noted the unique texture BalletX brings to the stage. “Since they are a contemporary ballet company, their works are more current and they do not perform traditional storybook ballets,” commented Beeman.
Rooks noted, “[The purpose of the show] is to bring a world-class contemporary ballet company to the Vassar Community.”
More specifically, Rooks hopes that the Vassar community will leave with a renewed perception of dance as an art form and the mutability of genres, such as the flexibility of classical dance and, interchangeably, contemporary dance. He concluded, “I think that the audience will love the show, and perhaps rethink their thoughts about the boundaries and potential of classically-based dance.”
Mahdaviani-Goldstone saw BalletX this past summer and is excited for their debut on campus. “I saw BalletX perform Neenan’s work titled ‘Sunset o639 Hours’ at the Joyce Theater and was struck by his imagination and originality. The piece by Neenan presented at Vassar is called ‘The Last Glass,’ set to the wild street-parade sound of music by the American indie-rock band Beirut,” she explained.
Beeman made note of the appeal of oblique movement and combinatory style. “I think especially for Vassar’s community, the type of repertoire they do will be more interesting due to the more abstract nature of the movement. I think having a company such as this one come to Vassar is great and shows that ballet’s tradition can mold into a contemporary setting and satisfy current interest,” concluded Beeman.