The specially curated event features a commissioned documentary film and popular mixed rep selections “Increasing” and “Fancy Me,” Feb. 25 at 8pm.
The Schaefer Center Presents (SCP) virtual performing arts series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, features one of the country’s most celebrated contemporary dance companies, BalletX, Thursday, Feb. 25 at 8pm. This specially curated broadcast of Philadelphia’s premier ballet company includes an introduction by BalletX co-founder Christine Cox, the BalletX 15th Anniversary Season documentary film, and two of the company’s popular mixed rep selections, “Increasing” and “Fancy Me.” The documentary was commissioned from filmmaker Daniel Madoff, and highlights the company’s growth, trajectory and continued commitment to redefining ballet in the 21st century. The SCP virtual event is free, but registration is required.
Figuring out how to effectively deliver dance to a virtual platform — while still maintaining a visceral connection to the dance audience — was difficult enough, but celebrating an anniversary season in the middle of a global pandemic? That posed a new set of challenges, says Cox. So instead of thinking small and insular, Cox and company decided “to go big and bold, by commissioning 15 new works in honor of our 15th anniversary season,” she said. “The entire team at BalletX bonded together to do whatever it took to make it work. … I knew we had a long hard road ahead of us when making the decision to pivot the company to the virtual presentation of our work. I also had an intense sense of duty to do whatever it took to keep on supporting the dancers, staff and artists we had commissioned.”
The experience of creating the documentary was a game-changer for the entire creative team, Cox said. In addition to recognizing that they “are far more resilient than [they] thought, we learned that this art form is a lifeline for not only us but for our growing community, [and] we learned that working together and caring for each other really do matter. Each dancer took on new aspects of the job, like creating dances, making films, developing editing skills and learning how to fundraise. The dancers also greatly appreciated the fact that we were able to keep working and instead of losing their jobs they gained perspective and insight into what it takes to keep a company alive during a worldwide pandemic.”
The Feb. 25 virtual event precedes BalletX’s scheduled in-person performance with the SCP series in Spring 2022, when the company will take the Schaefer Center stage to perform the beloved story ballet The Little Prince. And while BalletX’s virtual journey has been affirmative and fulfilling, the dancers look forward to the day when they can perform to a live house once again.
“The dancers have been at the heart of our pivot as a company,” said Cox, “because instead of dragging their feet and being annoyed at all the new things we were asking them to do, they embraced the challenges and brought new ideas. [But they] cannot wait to be back performing live for an audience. We are in it for the long haul and cannot wait to have the energy and spirit out in the house of a real theater.”
BalletX, Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet, whose dancers were named “among America’s best” by The New York Times, commissions choreographers from around the world to create dance that is “fresh, inclusive, and connects to what people want” (Philadelphia Citizen) while “positioning Philadelphia on the cutting edge of contemporary ballet” (The Dance Journal).
Founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, BalletX is led by Cox, whose tenure as Artistic and Executive Director has produced 84 world premiere ballets by 42 choreographers, a record “few companies can match,” according to The New York Times. Under Cox’s leadership, BalletX has been hailed as an “epicenter of creation” (Dance Magazine) and “place of choreographic innovation” (The New Yorker), putting Philadelphia on the map as an international destination for contemporary ballet.
**The BalletX presentation is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Office of Arts and Cultural Programs at Appalachian State University.
March 11 at 8pm: Steep Canyon Rangers
A livestream event brought to you straight from the stage of the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.
Asheville, NC’s own Steep Canyon Rangers are GRAMMY winners, perennial Billboard chart-toppers, and frequent collaborators of the renowned banjoist (and occasional comedian) Steve Martin.
March 25 at 8pm: Best of the Appalachian Dance Ensemble
This digital compilation, a best-of showcase of student performances in App State’s Dept. of Theatre & Dance, features popular works from faculty choreographers.