Rosie Langabeer Flies Across Cultures with BalletX
Hosted by the Vail International Dance Festival, Philadelphia-based contemporary dance troupe BalletX performed New Zealand composer Rosie Langabeer’s “Sunset o639”, a classical ballet in which dancers tell an epic and tragic story.
This time, their story diverges from the star-crossed lovers common in ballet, and instead tells about Pan American Captain Edwin Musick, who first delivered airmail from New Zealand to Hawaii. Air travel in the early 20th century was dangerous. Musick’s meticulous safety checks ensured that he and his PanAm crew had plenty of test flights as they broke flight records. A plane malfunction off of Pago Pago in 1938 killed Musick and his crew.
Langabeer and choreographer Matthew Neenan wanted to create a traditional ballet with an untraditional story, and introvert Musick was the perfect protagonist.
Langabeer said they also chose Musick’s tale because “it was an interesting piece of shared New Zealand and US history. There was something in this that reflected our personal relationship within the larger historical story of our countries’ race relations.”
Told with imaginary mail reflecting the concerns of the day, and a few love letters, the high-spirited romp incorporates love, loss, and adventure.
Langabeer lives in Philadelphia.
Original article by Leigh Horton, Vail Daily, July 31, 2015.
Photo by Bill Hebert.