A natural stage

The pandemic dramatically changed how we interact with the world. When many arts organizations cancelled their 2020 seasons, Philadelphia contemporary ballet company BalletX found a creative way to make the world its stage. BalletX brought dance into nature through a partnership with Pennsylvania’s accredited Natural Lands.

By Kirsten Ferguson March 15, 2021
A dancer in a blue dress stretches in front of a field

The dance company filmed part of its 15th season on two Natural Lands properties: Idlewild Farm Preserve and Stoneleigh: a natural garden in Villanova. Protected by social distance and the ventilation of breezes, dancers performed for a small camera crew while surrounded by towering trees and wildflowers. After watching the BalletX performances online, audiences could visit the inspiring outdoor film locations.

In director Caili Quan’s “Love letter,” dancers used Stoneleigh’s high meadow blooms and historical pergola as living set pieces exploring themes of longing for faraway people and places. Idlewild Farm Preserve served as an idyllic back-drop to choreographer Penny Saunders’ “Ricochet,” exploring the archetype of American Westerns.

“We are always seeking innovative ways to introduce new audiences to Natural Lands’ regional network of nature preserves and Stoneleigh, our public garden,” says Kelly Herrenkohl, vice president of communications and engagement. “We hope that this virtual experience in the outdoors will be an inspiration to connect with nature in new ways.”

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