BalletX returns to Beaver Creek with world premiere ‘Steep Drop, Euphoric’ | VailDaily.com

BalletX returns to Beaver Creek with world premiere ‘Steep Drop, Euphoric’

Jennifer Geisman
Special to the Daily

Known for defying traditional ballet and pushing artistic boundaries, BalletX, Philadelphia's premier contemporary ballet company, will inspire audiences as it brings a repertoire of pioneering choreography to the Vail Valley on Saturday. Held at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in collaboration with Vail Dance Festival, BalletX's winter dance program will feature a world premiere, "Steep Drop, Euphoric," by celebrated choreographer Nicolo Fonte. In addition, BalletX is slated to perform "Yonder" by choreographer Wubkje Kuindersma and "Increasing" by choreographer Matthew Neenan.

Fonte, known for his daring and original approach to dance and his works created for ballet companies around the world, has been noted by critics for his unique movement language as well as a highly developed fusion of ideas, dance and design. "Steep Drop, Euphoric" will not disappoint audiences on Saturday night. Incorporating the full company of 10 BalletX dancers, "Steep Drop, Euphoric" integrates a collage of acoustic music (string and piano) that guides the movement of the dancers.

"My job as a choreographer is to be inspired by the dancers and the music, and to make a good ballet," Fonte said. "'Steep Drop, Euphoric' is a piece about community, and the broader message that we need community in order to fully be human and feel wholly alive."

Fonte expressed that the title, "Steep Drop, Euphoric," refers to a literal feeling of steepness, being dropped and the euphoria that comes with being caught by a community.

"'Steep Drop, Euphoric' portrays a strong dynamic roller coaster of emotion through dance and music that will allow audiences to experience a sense of community through the choreography and scenic elements of the piece — from purely decoration to the third movement of the piece, which almost becomes an eleventh cast member," Fonte said.

The music

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Inspired by the musical landscape of Symphony No. 1 "Oceans": V. Cadenza by Ezio Bosso, Eulogy for Evolution 2017's "3326" by Olafur Arnalds and "Six Breaths," Fonte conceptualized the dancers' movements as he integrated the poetic essences of both sound and dance.

"It changes from process to process, but mostly the music comes first. A lot of it is instinct, and a lot of that is what fits the programming and the company," Fonte said. "It's wonderful working with the (BalletX) dancers I know so well. I basically knew who was going to do what, which allowed me to create a dance from beginning to end, one that potentially wows people with athleticism and dynamism, while at the same time, showcases the fabulousness of these particular dancers. That's really what my job is as choreographer."

The costumes

The costume color palette of "Steep Drop, Euphoric" integrates the theme of that steep drop and being lifted into euphoria. Working with longtime costume collaborator Christine Darch, Fonte said he allows Darch to have "free reign" when it comes to her approach to costume design.

"I start the conversation and then let Christine's imagination take over, and then we reconvene to come up with the final concepts," Fonte said. "The costumes reflect the scenic elements of 'Steep Drop, Euphoric,' which have rectangular references, but also reflect the steely power of the music."

"Steep Drop, Euphoric" costumes echo the rectangular features with muted grays, but Fonte and Darch give the costumes pops of neon colors to add to the sense of euphoria, as the dancers unveil each detail of movement.

BalletX has performed at the Vail Dance Festival six times since 2012. In 2016, the company served as the resident dance company at the renowned festival and, most recently, the company performed at the festival's 30th anniversary Closing Night Celebration. Founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, and now under the direction of Cox as artistic and executive director, BalletX challenges the boundaries of classical ballet by encouraging formal experimentation while preserving rigorous technique. Since the company's founding, BalletX has expanded its repertoire to include 71 world premieres by over 38 internationally renowned artists, including Matthew Neenan, Jodie Gates, Nicolo Fonte, Marguerite Donlon, Trey McIntyre, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Darrell Grand Moultrie.

"'Steep Drop, Euphoric' is going to be a wonderful journey for the audience. It's high energy and athletic dancing," Fonte said.

If you go …

What: BalletX featuring “Steep Dro, Euphoric” by Nicolo Fonte.

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

Cost: $68 for adults, $25 for students.

More information: http://www.vilarpac.org.