When Chris Kasper released “Bagabones” in 2013, he knew the album was different. And while he couldn't have predicted it would inspire a ballet, his collaboration with BalletX has turned out to make perfect sense.
"I love the idea of this because I felt like I was really onto something with this record, and wanted to see where it could go after its release," says the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter of working with choreographer Adam Hougland. "In general, there is certain artistic expression that I'm drawn to. It's not the overly happy, excited or aggressive stuff — it's the sadder, weirder, heartbreaking stuff that I like, and dance can dive into this just as much as any other art."
We caught up with Kasper before the piece's world premiere this week as part of BalletX's Summer Series.
What does it feel like to see “Bagabones” play out through someone else’s lens?
It's pretty amazing. This is an unexpected direction for sure, but a very welcome one in the highest sense. It's a real honor to hand it off to Adam and BalletX. To see something you've created take on new life under the direction of such passionate, creative and professional people is a true validation to me, and I'm super grateful to all the people that brought us together.
You'll be playing on stage with a full band during the performance. How is this different than a typical show?
Not too much different for me, except that because it's seven shows in the same place, I don't have to haul my stuff back and forth every night. But really, I'm just planning on giving a solid performance and letting the dancers take the songs to the audience. We now get to see the movement of the rhythms and the expressions of the melodies carried out through dance.
Has your relationship to dance changed after this experience?
I'm embarrassed to say I had no relation to dance before this connection. I knew a few dancers but never sought it out on stages. But now I can connect with dance very deeply, just like music. The power of expression that dance provides to the observer is new to me but at the same time, seems familiar. The first time I saw BalletX perform, I cried. I was overwhelmed with how beautiful everything was. It's a perfect extension of music, using forms instead of sounds.
The BalletX Summer Series is Wednesday to Sunday at The Wilma Theater, 265 S Broad St. Tickets are $22-$35. For more information, go to www.balletx.org.