An afternoon at the Perelman with BalletX, Michelle Cann, and Chase Park

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
Twelfth Night was a dark and stormy affair, bringing inches of rain locally, and up to six inches of snow only 50 miles north of Philadelphia. The Muses Nine, however, rescued Sunday, January 7, 2024, from a similar fate. Baring their breasts to Heaven, they appeased The Great God Zeus, ensuring by their generosity a clear and breezy afternoon for BalletX, Michelle Cann, and Chase Park to perform at the lovely Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center. The house was packed with an audience eager to hear and see the artists.
Michelle Cann, a noted pianist and educator, performed in recital and also as musical accompaniment to the dancers. She began the matinee program with Fantasie in F-sharp Minor, Op. 28 by Felix Mendelssohn (February 3, 1809 – November 4, 1847). Ms. Cann played with strength and power, tempered by suave limpidity. 
Situated, choreographed by Matthew Neenan, was set to
Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, played by Michelle Cann. Ms. Cann appeared off to the corner of the stage while the eight splendid dancers amused, thrilled, and elevated us into the empyrean. Many recalled the dance, and wondered if they were hallucinating a deja vu moment. Well, this dance and the next were previously seen at BallerX’s previous appearances at the Wilma, just across the street. Having some months between the dances in no way lessened their impact, or their thrilling effect upon the audience. Novelty and improvisation abounded in Situated. The dancers used chairs in ways many would or could ever imagine. The troupe then artfully moved about in their comfortable costumes resembling European sleepwear. The dancers  occasionally broke out into calling out disconnected words, sometimes phrases, with the Italian word for dreams being loudly discerned at one point. Most wonderful was an emotional and physically astonishing duet between two male dancers. It was perhaps the highlight of the piece. 
After Intermission, Composer Michael Leibowitz appeared to discuss the piece he composed years before expressly for Michelle Cann, called Piano Suite, which she dispatched with intense virtuosity. 
BalletX dancers next performed Choreographer Jamar Roberts’ Honey, set to arrangements by Don Shirley. Michelle Cann was the piano expert accompanying the six dancers with special guest, Cellist Chase Park.  The three couples had distinctly different approaches to the distinctly troublesome landscape of interpersonal relationships. The first couple, with bare legs, crossed a jagged, fretful landscape before a resolution. The second couple was supremely agitated and angular, apparently sparring beautifully throughout, with the man eventually walking away from the woman who silently walked off stage. The third couple were all athleticism. 
The audience applauded all concerned wildly and warmly.
Alyssandra Docherty adapted Michael Korsch’s lighting expertly, but one did wish for more light at times and more variety. Inexplicably, Mr. Park’s biography was overlooked, and never made it into the program. Otherwise, the program was fascinating and pleasurable. 
In a few months, BalletX will enjoy a Spring Season at the Wilma Theater. For more information, visit .
The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society is only mid-way through its season. For more information, visit 
Chase Park
Matthew Neenan
Jamar Roberts, choreographer

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