On March 19, the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts hosted BalletX for the group’s production of The Little Prince. BalletX is a company known for their experimentation and combination of ballet with other dance forms as well as challenging traditional ballet motifs and gender roles. The Little Prince tells the story of a pilot who crashes his plane into the desert and hallucinates the rulers of six different kingdoms/worlds. This performance was a 50-minute ballet designed for younger audiences, comprised of excerpts from the company’s full-length version.

The set was made of simple white wood and cardboard boxes that the ensemble would reorganize depending on the scene. This choice worked well for the performance because the white boxes mimicked alien trees and caves of foreign worlds.

The set was complemented by the original lighting design by Michael Korsch. The lighting would change depending on the world in which the Little Prince and the Pilot found themselves. The lighting changes also coincided with many auditory cues that quickly shifted the atmosphere on the stage to fit the emotion expressed by the different rulers.

The original score for the production was composed entirely by Peter Salem. The outstanding score represented the contrasting ambiance of each world and ruler. Although the score established foreign worlds, the banjo and fiddle were reminiscent of an Appalachian sound.

The strength of each dancer was apparent in their physique and movements. The choreography was large, and the dancers used the entire stage, incorporating the set and props. The performance included many dazzling lifts and leaps that appeared effortless. Oftentimes, the lifts were not males lifting females but rather males lifting other males, a choice that departs from traditional ballet practices and reinforces BalletX’s modus operandi of challenging gender norms. Audience members could see dancers’ expressions from anywhere in the theater, and occasionally the dancers further expressed their characters’ emotions using onomatopoeic sound. The production showed an overall cohesiveness as the powerful, delicate choreography supported the drama and tension created by the lighting and set design.

The props for this show were unique and used well. The auditory sensations that came from them were enthralling. The ensemble in white would mark the transitions between scenes with flapping paper birds on poles held high up. The creative props were incorporated as a visual aid to further the understanding of the plot.

The audience was comprised primarily of parents and children, with a few other adults in attendance. This condensed version of The Little Prince was an excellent choice because it is difficult to captivate children’s attention for anything longer than 50 minutes. It was interesting to see what excited the children and what excited the adults. The children were especially taken by the prop birds, showing their enthusiasm by jumping and flapping along.

BalletX has a progressive reputation, which made me excited to see their work in person. They have become well known for their formal experimentation and for challenging the gender binary established in conventional ballet. Traditionally, in ballet, women wear point shoes and men do not. However, you are more likely to find men wearing point shoes in a BalletX production than you would with any other ballet company. However, no men were wearing point during this production. BalletX costumes often challenge gender roles as well, in that men are not just shirtless in tights and women in blouses and skirts. The original costumes designed by Danielle Truss for this performance were of a more traditional nature, although they were used in a way that aided the separation of characters and the digestion of the plot.

The progressive nature of BalletX did not show through in this performance the way I had anticipated; however, their unique style and dynamism did not disappoint. It is to be considered that this is a performance for younger audiences, so the purpose behind the creative intent seemed to be to entertain more than to make a statement.

The Little Prince by BalletX was a delightful stage production about imagination that captivated young and old audiences alike. It can be difficult to find a stage production that both children and adults can enjoy, and The Little Prince was just that. I should hope that if I crash a plane in the desert, I am met with an equally charming Prince of my own.