Vail International Dance Festival company-in-residence BalletX performs July 31 | VailDaily.com

Vail International Dance Festival company-in-residence BalletX performs July 31

Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Vail Dance.

VAIL — For more than a decade, BalletX has stretched ballet beyond traditional boundaries, into a new movement language that fuses classical and contemporary ballet with everything from jazz to hip-hop.

The 10 dancers of BalletX all possess a rare combination of impeccable traditional ballet training and technique, intense athleticism, passionate expression and a hunger to perfect ever-changing varieties of guest choreographers' visions.

"We really challenge the body to move in new and different ways," said Christine Cox, BalletX artistic director.

Now, after three years of surprising, delighting and emotionally stirring audiences at the Vail International Dance Festival, BalletX has the honor of being this season's company-in-residence.

"BalletX is an ideal company-in-residence because they are such a community-minded group of dancers, in addition to being simply terrific in their performances on the stage," said Damian Woetzel, the festival's artistic director. "These dancers are always ready to experiment, trying new challenges, whether in a new ballet or working with a crowd in the streets of Vail. I love their energy."

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The Philadelphia-based company has debuted 58 world premieres and presented the works of 31 renowned choreographers since 2005.

"We bring diverse, eclectic choreographers' voices to the stage with a fun, curated approach," Cox said. "It's like going out to dinner where you can pick a really interesting meal because we have a fantastic menu of ballets that represent a worldview of voices through different choreographers."

As a result, one evening with BalletX can usher audiences through a full array of emotions. For instance, when Cox watched rehearsals for one of the company's premieres created for the festival, "it had me giggling and tearing up," she said.

BalletX strives to "tell untold stories in new ways," Cox said. But despite all of the imaginative experimentation, its dancers remain very grounded — both literally and figuratively.

Evoking 'Everyday Silliness'

When artist-in-residence Isabella Boylston first worked with BalletX last season in Vail, the choreography challenged her to move from a lower, more grounded place, she said, as well as more from her core. In BalletX's community-minded approach, it's as if the dancers' physically grounded movements extend into grassroots efforts — both in their hometown of Philadelphia and Vail — to involve people of all ages and abilities in the freedom of movement.

Last summer, BalletX taught some choreography from audience favorite Slump to the public. Participants transitioned from wide-legged stances to stepping with one foot while twirling their hips and then shaking their booties or walking around slumped over.

"It's just quirky, relatable material because it evokes everyday silliness and joy and laughter," Cox said.

BalletX will continue to reach out to the Vail community this season: Cox sees it as building friendships with both the professional dancers from other companies, as well as patrons.

"We just want to find our humanity in the art with the audience," Cox said. "We hope we remind them of something they love about their life, maybe take them back to a past memory or a future vision. I hope the choreography creates a little tingle inside that surprises them. It really becomes about the patrons who are watching and how they interpret the dance and how we all connect."

Vail International Dance Festival schedule

For a full schedule, including Master Classes and fringe events, visit vaildance.org or call 888-920-ARTS (2787).

• BalletX — 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dorrance Dance in Concert — 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• UpClose: Vail’s Dance Festival with Damian Woetzel — 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

• International Evenings of Dance I — 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• International Evenings of Dance II — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• NOW: Premieres — 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dance for $20.16 — 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dance Theatre of Harlem — 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

• Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance — 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Ballroom Spectacular — 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dance TV — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail