1. My experience with Dance eXchange

    By Colby Damon, BalletX dancer

    About a month ago, the dancers at BalletX were afforded an opportunity to learn the pedagogical practices forged and perpetuated by the National Dance Institute in New York City. I had heard of the program for a while, and knew much of its founder Jacques d’Amboise, but otherwise had little expectations for what would happen. I have taught in public schools before in various capacities, in both California and New York City, so I figured this would basically be a review of some methods I had already employed in my previous engagements.

    Dance eXchange has been so much more effective and nurturing than I could have imagined. Although I have had difficulty in the past seeing real results in public school dance classes outside of technical achievement, the NDI classes really afford an opportunity for accomplishment and confidence for kids who have a hard time finding it elsewhere. By demanding nothing but the best from every small step, in a fun atmosphere, and rewarding accomplishment and leadership, these dance classes really teach kids more about how to learn effectively, and the benefits of focus and perseverance. Classroom teachers at Andrew Jackson School where Dance eXchange is taking place have already expounded about how much more confidence and concentration certain students have shown since joining the classes. Bravo to the amazing teachers and administrators of NDI for their incredible pedagogy which was the inspiration and foundation of Dance eXchange. I am very happy to have been exposed to their style of teaching dance, and am looking forward to utilizing their unique pedagogy in future Dance eXchange classes.

    Colby with Andrew Jackson Elementary students in South Philadelphia.

    Colby Damon has been dancing with BalletX since 2008 and have been featured in over 15 world premieres. Colby received his training at the Richmond Ballet, the Boston Ballet, and the Virginia School of the Arts. He has danced professionally with Sacramento Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Northwest Dance Project, Avi Scher and Dancers, and Thang Dao Dance Company, among others. Colby is a student of Chinese language, energy work and martial arts, and is pursuing his BA in Dance through the New York LEAP program.

    Dance eXchange has been made possible by support from the 2013 Knight Arts Challenge, a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and PECO, lead corporate sponsor, as well as by additional grants from the Leo Model Foundation, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Zeldin Family Foundation, and the Virginia & Harvey Kimmel Arts Education Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation. Special thanks to University of the Arts, performance partner.

     

  2. Illustrations of BalletX dancers in rehearsal

    Linda Thomson, a BalletX friend, supporter and artist, came to watch the BalletX dancers in rehearsal this past February during Dance in Public Places at The Gallery here in Philadelphia.

    See her wonderful illustrations of the BalletX dancers below. Visit www.lindapricethomson.com to see more of Linda’s work.

     

  3. Learn about everything happening behind-the-scenes at BalletX this month!

     
  4. On Saturday, February 15, 2014, BalletX presented A Pie, A Pint & The Process as part of Winter Series 2014. This interactive lecture over pizza and beer explores the relationship between classical and contemporary ballet and this particular installment focused on everything it takes to be a professional dancer today.

    Led by dance critic and author Elizabeth Zimmer this lecture featured BalletX Co-Artistic and Executive Director Christine Cox,Group Motion Artistic Director Manfred Fischbeck, BalletX dancers Francesca Forcella and Richard Villaverde, and Group Motion dancer Ellie Goudie-Averill.

    Join us on Saturday, July 12, 2014 for the Summer Series 2014 A Pie, A Pint and The Process lecture, where we focus on dance from the perspective of the choreographer!

    Visit www.balletx.org for tickets and more information.

     
     

  5. BalletX launches new dance outreach program, Dance eXchange

    BalletX has just launched a new dance outreach program called Dance eXchange with Andrew Jackson School in South Philadelphia. 

    Dance eXchange uses dance to empower children with important life skills. In late February, members of the BalletX company and artistic staff, as well as select members of the Philadelphia dance community, received training in the methodology of the award-winning National Dance Institute(NDI),which emphasizes dance as a means of building self-confidence and transcending cultural, physical, and cognitive barriers.

    BalletX will spend 11 weeks in March-May in residency at Andrew Jackson School, enriching students’ lives with dance while gaining valuable experience in professional dance education.

    Below is the first in a series of monthly blog posts about Dance eXchange that we hope will offer you an inside look into this great program.

    Dance eXchange

    By: Megan O’Donnell, BalletX Administrative and Development Coordinator

    It was 8:15 am this past Monday morning, and I was in a school gymnasium (for the first time in a long time), waiting for the entire 3rd grade of Andrew Jackson School to walk through the doors. This past week marked the beginning of BalletX’s new program with Jackson School, Dance eXchange. BalletX staff and dancers have been hard at work in the school and out of it, working with students in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades and instructors from NYC’s wonderful National Dance Institute, creating the groundwork for an 11-week after-school residency at Jackson that starts March 4th.

    It’s so amazing to see something that was once just an idea on paper be brought to life. A lot of time and effort goes into creating a program like Dance eXchange. I was nervous when the students first walked into the gym—would they like it? Would they have fun? Would all of the work that went into creating the program be worth it? But then the BalletX and NDI team got them dancing, and all of a sudden the kids were laughing, smiling, excited. And you really couldn’t help but smile with them, because to engage a child like this program does, to excite a young mind—there’s so much power in that, so much possibility. I can’t wait to see what these kids achieve through Dance eXchange

    Photo credit: Megan O’Donnell

    Dance eXchange has been made possible by support from the 2013 Knight Arts Challenge, a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and PECO, lead corporate sponsor, as well as by additional grants from the Leo Model Foundation, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Zeldin Family Foundation, and the Virginia & Harvey Kimmel Arts Education Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation.

     

  6. The X-Process: Winter Series 2014

    More of your questions about BalletX’s Winter Series 2014 are answered here!

    BalletX Co-Artistic and Executive Director Christine Cox has answered your remaining questions from Winter Series 2014. We hope you find her insight informative.

    Do you have more questions that you’d like answered? Let us know here or tweet @BalletX.

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    Q: Why is Billy Cannon the most perfect human ever?

    A: BalletX dancer William Cannon works really hard and is passionate about being a great dancer. His passion really shows through in his dancing.

    Q: What was most challenging part of preparing this performance?

    A: The most challenging aspect was that we had a really short time frame to develop the work. It was also challenging for the dancers to do so many different styles at the same time. 

    Q: Why so hetero(sexual)?

    A: There were moments in the program that featured same sex partnering. They were short, but they were there.

    Q: How do you remember the steps?

    A: My recommendation would be to check out our lecture series A Pie, A Pint & The Process (which will soon be available here on the blog) as we answer that very question in more detail.

    Q: Why did the choreographers use so many old tropes and cliches?

    A: Oftentimes, it is hard to reinvent the wheel and sometime old cliches are well worth revisiting. 

    Q: Was the song for Valentine’s Day Korean or Japanese? 

    A: The song is called Bibo no Aozora and is by Ryuichi Sakamoto. It is Japanese.

    Q: How do Christine & Matt choose new choreographers?

    A: In choosing new choreographers, we get work samples from choreographers and we make our selection based on that. Many times it will be someone we have heard about or whose work we know.

    Q: What is it (Winter Series) about anyway?

    A: The program is about many different things. If you read the program notes (available here on The X-Blog) you will understand better. But really, you should take away from the performance your owns feelings and impressions on what it meant.

    Q: Can you sell DVD/Blue Ray of some pieces?

    A: Unfortunately we can’t because of music and property right issues. Coming to a BalletX performance is a once in a lifetime experience, and we want our audiences to see it live.

    Q: Why can’t you perform more often?

    A: We hope to perform more and develop another Series!

    The X-Process continues during Summer Series 2014 (July 9-13 at The Wilma Theater)!

     

  7. The X-Process: Winter Series 2014

    The X-Process continues with more of your questions being answered here!

    The X-Process is our audience engagement program where we ask audiences that come to our Winter Series 2014 shows to post their thoughts and questions on what they’ve seen post-it notes on a board in the lobby of The Wilma Theater.

    BalletX Co-Artistic and Executive Director Christine Cox answers 3 questions from audiences who were at last night’s show (February 13th) here:

    Q: How is it working with a small but powerful company?

    A: It is very exciting having a small company comprised of 10 powerful and dynamic dancers. We are all so close and supportive which makes it a really positive creative environment. We all also care so deeply about the art form which we try and translate into everything we do.

    Q: What do you look for in your dancers?

    A: When we look for dancers, we look for ones that have a strong sense of movement, a great understanding of classical ballet technique, and a willingness to stay open and work hard to always improve. 

    Q: How do you go about starting a small arts company?

    A: When starting a small arts company, my advice would be to make sure you have your own experience in the field first. Having experience and inside knowledge of the arts scene where you live and are looking to start your organization is crucial. Another important component would be to invite smart friends both in the field and outside of the field to help you. It is also important to be thoughtful when developing your product so that there is consistency and your message and brand stay strong.

    Do you have any questions for Christine or BalletX? Let us know, we’d be happy to answer them for you!

    BalletX Winter Series 2014. February 12-16 at The Wilma Theater.

     
  8. "Head in the Clouds" by James Gregg.

    Dancers: Andrea Yorita and Colby Damon

    Photo: Alexander Iviliaev

    BalletX Winter Series 2014. February 12-16 at The Wilma Theater.

     
  9. "Valentine’s Day" by Joshua L. Peugh 

    Dancers: Andrea Yorita and Zachary Kapeluck

    Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

    BalletX Winter Series 2014. February 12-16 at The Wilma Theater.

     
  10. Winter Series 2014 “Conversations with the Artists” Q&A with choreographers Joshua L. Peugh and James Gregg, BalletX Co-Artistic Directors Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, and dance critic and author Elizabeth Zimmer.