Philadelphia Ballet explores the pandemic with “New Works for a New World”

Dancers of Philadelphia Ballet in “Alignment," choreographed by Juliano Nunes. (Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.)

We’re living in unprecedented times. It’s often hard to articulate in words exactly what we’ve been through and the emotional toll it has taken on many of us. Sometimes you need to find other ways to express the full range of emotions that you’re experiencing. The Pennsylvania Ballet has done just that with their current show, “New Works for a New World,” a powerful program comprising three different perspectives on the pandemic.  

The first piece of the program, “Alignment,” explores the ideas of trusting our intuition and living as our true selves. It begins with an industrial, jazz infused intensity and adds more classical elements as it progresses. The piece hits its crescendo with impressive jumps and dizzying turns that drew spontaneous applause from the audience. Juliano Nunes, choreographer of “Alignment,” has a long resume as both a dancer and choreographer. He has created pieces for the Royal Ballet in London, Ballet Jazz de Montreal and has contributed choreography for the hit Netflix series “Tiny Pretty Things.”

Award-winning choreographer Alba Castillo created the second piece, “The Persistence of Memory.” Castillo was born in Spain and brought her experience as a dancer and choreographer to her piece, which was inspired by the works of Salvador Dali. “The Persistence Of Memory” explores the relationship of life and time. The minimal use of just 10 dancers moving together is intensified by the stark lighting and smoke that creates an ethereal feel to the piece. 

The third segment, “Prima Materia” is from Andrew Winghart, a choreographer known for creating performances for the Academy Awards and Cirque du Soleil, and for collaborating with artists such as Billie Eilish, Lorde and Khalid. Winghart is celebrated for his unique and high energy style of dance, and his segment captured his trademark style. The original score for “Prima Materia” was composed in tandem with the choreography and as such worked perfectly in sync with the dancers movements. The combination of the tribal sounding beats with dancers soaring through the air or spinning in pointe shoes was thrilling. 

“New Works for a New World” runs from now through February 12th.

Yuka Iseda of Philadelphia Ballet in “Prima Materia.” (Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.)