BalletX's 2018–19 Season Boasts Seven New Ballets, Four by Women
BalletX rehearses Penny Saunders' Rock-a-Bye in its new Center for World Premiere Choreography. Photo by Chris Kendig, Courtesy BalletX
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."
Mention "flamenco" to anyone in the Cuban dance scene, and they are likely to bring up Irene Rodríguez. Artistic director of Compañía Irene Rodríguez, Cuba's premiere flamenco company, Rodríguez has shared the stage with such renowned flamenco artists as Eva Yerbabuena, María Juncal and Antonio Gades. She is also a faculty member at Havana's Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, and has served as a choreography consultant at Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.
Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.