BalletX gets busy with quirky celebration of spring

With spring comes new life.

BalletX's new work, Right to Spring, celebrates new life in the shape of dancer-artistic director Christine Cox's midterm-pregnancy belly.

Choreographed by the company's other artistic director, Matthew Neenan (who is also choreographer in residence at Pennsylvania Ballet), the one-hour Right to Spring is full of quirky little surprises.

Neenan often plays with scenery, and the visual interest begins before audience members even sit down. The stage is covered with a sheer piece of fabric. Cox lies on top of it on her side, back to the audience. The other cast members slither along beneath it, as though in a womb. Meanwhile, a trio of musicians at the back of the stage play a soothing new age-type melody on the guitar, flute and keyboard.

The piece, which had its world premiere Wednesday night at the Wilma Theater, is a nod to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, but mostly it is a series of loose stories of a new season. Dancers in grays and blues usher out the last of the cold weather. Men lift their partners by the knees and spin them on the ground. Love blossoms. A group of dancers sit in a corner and play spin-the-bottle, while others take solo turns on the stage.

As spring takes hold, the costumes get brighter, the pointe shoes come off, and hair is let down. The music changes from new age to rock to Mozart. Bird calls and sounds of the wind play in the background. Cox sings with the band and then dances again.

Right of Spring is a fun addition to BalletX's repertoire, and it ends with a laugh. But at times I felt over-stimulated. Even with just 10 dancers, there was often so much going on that it was hard to know where to focus.

The lighting, by Shelley Hicklin, was beautiful, but I had to ignore the video, by Steven Earl Weber and David S. Kessler (who were also responsible for the set design), or I would have missed a lot of the dance.


Contact writer Ellen Dunkel at edunkel@phillynews.com.

BalletX will repeat "Right to Spring" at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St. Information: 215-546-7824.