For Philadelphia's BalletX, a special kind of 'Valentine's Day'

Dancer Joshua L. Peugh rehearses with fellow BalletX members. (Photo: Bill Hebert)

About a year ago, a choreographer colleague of mine in Dallas told me about BalletX. He encouraged me to send a sample of my work to them saying that the company was a small group of unique dancers who really loved to move.

I founded Dark Circles Contemporary Dance (DCCD) with a friend in South Korea almost four years ago, and last spring I created a new branch of the company in Dallas. When I choose dancers for DCCD, I look for people who can’t help moving: people with an unstoppable personal groove. That is what I’ve found here with BalletX.

I’ve just completed my second week creating and rehearsing with the BalletX dancers for Winter Series 2014, and I have been continuously impressed by their hunger and good instincts. I have fallen in love with them and their individual stories.

While in Philadelphia, I have had the pleasure of restaging Slump for BalletX. The movement vocabulary for Slump was created partially in Korea (where I lived for many years) with my artistic soul mate Dong Hyoung Kim and includes traditional Korean dance steps. I finished building the work in Texas on Bruce Wood Dance Project, where I served as Associate Choreographer and where the dancers had no knowledge of Korean culture. The blending of those two worlds and being able to share my love of the place where I struggled and stretched for almost six years as a person and also as an artist, was very special.

The BalletX dancers are now part of that legacy. Although the work was created for other dancers, the dancers here have filled it with their own personal stories and fantasies, giving it a new life.

In addition to Slump, I’ve also been commissioned to create a new pas de deux for BalletX. This duet--Valentine’s Day—deals with the ideas of giving and receiving, romance and obligation, support and struggle.

Creating Valentine’s Day with the BalletX dancers has been a gift. Through their open-heartedness and curiosity, they have added to the sense of delicacy and risk, which are (in my experience) intrinsic parts of love. Each of them has contributed invaluable insight and authenticity to the piece by being simple, pure, and transparent. It has been my pleasure to share my stories with them and to listen to their stories. I am proud of what we have created together.

The time I have spent with BalletX has inspired me, and I am excited about the things I have learned from these artists; their sensitivity and passion for moving are remarkable. But, ultimately, these dances have been created for an audience, and I am looking forward to including them in the conversation: to adding more stories and personal fantasies to the work and to connecting more people through movement and dance.

BalletX Winter Series 2014 is February 12-16 at The Wilma Theater. Visit for tickets and more information.

Joshua L. Peugh is the Founder and Artistic Director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance and an Adjunct Lecturer of Dance at Southern Methodist University. In 2006, Joshua moved to South Korea to join Universal Ballet Company where he performed soloist and featured roles in the works of Ohad Naharin, Christopher Wheeldon and others. After two-and-a-half years with the company, Joshua left UBC and co-founded his own company, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, in Seoul. Since then, he has created work for festivals all over Asia and North America winning awards for his choreography in Korea, Japan, and Canada. Joshua has been commissioned to create new dance works for BalletX, Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, Southern Methodist University, and Booker T. Washington HSPVA. He has also served as a juror for the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, as Associate Choreographer for Bruce Wood Dance Project, and will be a member of the adjudication panel for the Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition of 2014.

BalletX is Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company, performing three times a season at The Wilma Theater. BalletX unites world-class choreographers with an outstanding company of professional dancers to forge new works of athleticism, emotion, and grace. BalletX is committed to producing new works of the highest quality and integrity that bring the combined visions of choreographers and dancers to life and cultivate in audiences a collective appetite for bold new dance.