A fascinating and exciting program by BalletX at the Wilma

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
Philadelphia’s beloved dance company presented a short residency at the intimate Wilma Theater March 1 through 5, and two of the presentations were especially astonishing. All performances were sold out.
Artistic and Executive Director Christine Cox addressed the audience as usual, provided updates on the company, thanked their loyal patrons for continuing support, and shared how Jorma Elo’s Scenes View 2 is a revival of his first setting in 2006 on several dancers present that evening, with Ms. Cox being one of the dancers from that original work. 
The World Premiere of Seeds by Gary W. Jeter ll began the evening. Somberly lit, the stage invited dancers to enter individually, wearing hooded rain gear in pastel shades, appearing for all reasons to be cotyledons, with endosperm, exosperm, and gymnosperm ready to burst into life as they planted seeds, and moved rhythmically about as do strewn seeds in the wind. These entities provided fertilization and planting, moving about as sand cranes might among young stands of rhubarb. The drama concludes with all their efforts being spent, the vegetation falls into a compostable heap. Or, so many would think it does.
A Long Night is another World Premiere by choreographer Amy Seiwert. A name that may be new to many, but who will surely become a great choreographer with an international reputation as she creates more exceptional work such as this. Young Eli Alford entered clad in a sparkling suit of gold. A Long Night is a considered rethinking of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the frisky Mr. Alford as an altogether enchanting Puck. The quartet of youths lost in the forest were Savannah Green, Jerard Palazo, Ben Schwartz, and Ashley Simpson. All four danced with a tender ferocity which beamed impeccable technique married with artistic intelligence. A few times the audience found humor in the action, with Puck’s sprinkling of leaves on the faces of the lovers, which elicited much pleasure. The sheer energy and imaginative invention caused a few audience members to recall the early genius of Paul Taylor. Inventive choreography dovetails into yet another invention, with its cumulative effect being beautiful, absorbing, and altogether a joy. 
BalletX’s resident filmmaker Elliot DeBruyn provided short documentaries which added much to the evening. It is here that we first glimpsed the austere beauty of Amy Seiwert, clad in a fabulous garment half resembling that cloak worn by Rodin’s Balzac, with the remaining half reminiscent of the fashions of Martha Graham. Jorma Elo was especially poignant as he shared how affecting resetting his choreography on new bodies decades later. Mr. Elo shared how the Bach pieces used reminded him of his youth and his mother. He found the experience unexpectedly powerful and moving. 
Scenes View 2 was a true masterpiece. Fresh and inventive, the work never lagged, always logically and pleasingly proceeding along, occasionally delighting us with moments of brilliance. 
Audience acclaim was profound, keeping the dancers on stage to be showered with thankful love. The entire dance company never looked better, danced better, or were more assured.  
BalletX will present a gala event at the Mann Center on May 1, followed by their Spring Series May 4 and 5 at the Mann Center. In July, the company will return to the Wilma to present its Summer Series, July 12-23. 
For tickets and information, visit www.BalletX.org .

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