Inside The Mind of Christine Cox

Conversation With Co-Artistic Director Christine Cox about her world premiere of ‘X’ or ‘Y’ and her return as a dancer in BalletX Spring Series 2010, April 14-18 at The Wilma Theater.

Interviewed by BalletX publicist Inna Heasley for The Dance Journal

Q: Christine, we are all thrilled that you are coming back to dance following two years of absence and some major life changes due to arrival of your baby son!  So, why do it now?

CC: I was curious what it would feel like to dance at this stage in my life. Having Warren has taken me into a whole new dimension of love and has changed much of my perspective on many levels. For so long I was completely dedicated to my dancing and put so much time and passion into building a life around ballet. After such a long break, I felt it would be a fantastic journey to come back and dance this very special duet, Carry Me, with Tara Keating. I have shared the stage with her for many years and felt this would be a wonderful experience to dance it together for our BalletX friends.

Q: How do you combine it all: running a non-profit company, choreographing a new work, dancing in one of the premieres and on top of all – being a great mom and running the household?

CC: It has been challenging to be a mother, director, choreographer and dancer because of the time commitment. I am doing my best to wear many hats but I realize that each one requires more of me. I do the very best I can and realize that nothing is perfect.  So, in future I will do less of all and more of one.  I try to handle it with humility, grace, and love and most of all, have fun!

Q: What inspires and moves you as a choreographer?

CC: Usually my feelings and the place I am in at that point in my life. I have choreographed for many years but I am constantly searching to find my voice, which is a strange feeling. I am often very uncomfortable when I start a piece but I know that I have to let the steps flow and then the movement begins to show me the direction of the piece.

Q: Being a dancer yourself, what qualities do you value in dancers?

CC: I love working with a dancer who is really musical and loves to explore ideas. If I could go back, I would be more generous with the choreographers I worked with.  Having a dancer in front of you who is willing to do anything helps your ideas have a place to flourish and breathe. Such dancers   allow you to feel comfortable and not second-guess your directions.

Q: You are creating a new work for the BalletX Spring Series called X or Y. What can you tell us about it so far?  And what about that curious title?

CC: I chose this title because one section in this dance feels feminine (set to Mozart) and the other – masculine (set to an electro tango).  I also just wanted to have fun and let the title have some freedom for the audience and myself to imagine what it meant.  X or Y is a chance for me to simply explore my physical self in a very different time in my life. So much has changed in my world and the past two years I have stepped out of the studio. This is a chance for me to step back in my body and look at what I have learned through “living” as opposed to what I have learned through dancing.  It will be a surprise to the audience… and to me!

Q: On April 18th,  you and Matthew Neenan will be hosting a free lecture-demonstration for all ages “Inside the Mind of a Dancer.”  What can we expect to see and experience at this event?

CC: This is a very special chance to hear Matt and I discuss the finer details of dancing and how we pull it all together on stage. Many people wonder how we remember all those steps.  We will share this intimate process of learning and how we build dance phrases and keep them moving in our head. It is also a chance for the audiences to watch us up close and actually be a part of the action.

Q: What would you say to those folks who haven’t experienced BalletX yet?

CC: Dance is an evolution of something that is driven in us all. It is relevant because it is a key component to our culture. Even people who say they don’t like to dance secretly want to move when the music starts playing. Watching BalletX perform is a wonderful opportunity for people to see the future of ballet and realize it is not a stuffy form of dance at all, but something vibrant, something you may actually love when you leave the theater. I have met so many people who had assumed that dance would bore them, they were dragged to the show, and they left pleasantly surprised and wanting more.

Matthew [Neenan] and I are working hard to build a company that many people can relate to. We want to break down some misconceptions that go along with dance.  We want to explain that what people are seeing is just like art. It can be impressionism or realism, but in the end it is a place for all audience members to walk into and make it whatever they want it to be.

We are planning on having more discussions with our audience and building a stronger line of communication.  We will offer two post-performance Q-and-A sessions with the Spring Series choreographers: on the opening night, April 14th, and following the Saturday matinee performance on April 17th.   So be sure to stay after the show!

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