BalletX rehearses Penny Saunders' Rock-a-Bye in its new Center for World Premiere Choreography. Photo by Chris Kendig, Courtesy BalletX

BalletX's 2018–19 Season Boasts Seven New Ballets, Four by Women

With over 68 new works in its 13-year history, BalletX is known for being an epicenter of creation. The company will outdo itself in its 2018–19 season, treating Philadelphia to seven new works, four of them by women. "We are interested in growing, not cutting costs," says artistic director Christine Cox. "The unknown adventure of new ballets means there is an unknown process and a different learning curve we get to work on every day."


This month's Fall Series will include premieres from Marguerite Donlon, Cayetano Soto and Wubkje Kuindersma, while the Spring Series will feature new works by Lil Buck, Nicolo Fonte and 2019 choreographic fellow Katarzyna Skarpetowska. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa will return to BalletX to create an evening-length ballet inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince for the Summer Series.

Premieres aren't all that's new this season: A renovated 5,000-square-foot warehouse is now the company's Center for World Premiere Choreography, a dedicated space for BalletX to develop its programming. With 11 dancers now working a minimum of 35 weeks a year, it was no longer feasible to rent different rehearsal spaces around town. As Cox began talks with developers and their Philadelphia community about the possibility of their own building, she found there was a huge amount of support around the idea. "I am most proud of the curious audience we have developed," says Cox. "We have worked hard at building an audience that is invested in supporting new ballets. And they know they don't have to love every work, that it is about the experience."

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020