Ochoa in the studio with former BalletX dancer Daniel Mayo. Bill Hebert, Courtesy BalletX.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa Brings "The Little Prince" to Life for BalletX

The Little Prince is one of the world's most beloved books, and one every child reads in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's native Belgium. So when BalletX director Christine Cox hired Ochoa to make a new full-length ballet, the Netherlands-based choreographer immediately thought of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic tale.

Featuring designs by Danielle Truss and Matt Saunders and music composed and performed live by Peter Salem, BalletX will premiere The Little Prince July 10–21 at Philadelphia's Wilma Theater. Pointe spoke to Ochoa about why children and adults alike will appreciate this new work.


What drew you to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's work?

It's a book I read many times as a kid, but the book is actually not for children. It's just that the author had made these really sweet drawings. The main character is not the Little Prince, it's the Pilot. Saint-Exupéry was also a pilot; it's like the Little Prince is his inner child, questioning the meaning of life and how adults seem to be very busy with uninteresting and important matters. It's a story of symbolism that only an adult audience really understands.

What are the challenges of choreographing from such a well-known book?

It's actually very hard to keep the audience engaged in the development of a story. The struggle is figuring out how literal I can be, and how much I can use the abstract aesthetic of dance to enhance an emotion as opposed to just tell the story.

BalletX's Roderick Phifer in The Little Prince

Gabriel Bienczycki, Courtesy BalletX

What's it like to work with BalletX?

It's so much fun. They're a really tight group. Some of the dancers have been there quite a long time now, so you're dealing with mature artists who will think with you and help bring the characters to life. And kudos to Christine that she doesn't lean on things that were successful and bring them back five times; she's always bringing in new work.

Why is it important to you to create new story ballets?

I believe storytelling will always touch an audience. I hope that when I'm an old choreographer, I can look back, and I will not be the one who did a new Giselle or a new Swan Lake. I'm trying to find new stories that are not told often. Storytelling is where ballet started, and then contemporary dance took over and it was all about movement and space and music. I want to revive it, and not feel it has to be an old-fashioned form.

Latest Posts


Courtesy ABC

Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Alicia Mae Holloway Talks About Her Time on ABC's “The Bachelor”

Bunheads tuning in to the season premiere of ABC's "The Bachelor" on January 4 may have recognized a familiar face: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Alicia Mae Holloway, literally bourréeing out of a limousine to greet bachelor Matt James. While Holloway unfortunately didn't get a rose that night, she did thoroughly enjoy being the long-running reality franchise's first professional-ballerina contestant, as she told Pointe in a recent Zoom call.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Carla Fracci and Stephen Jefferies in "La Esmeralda" (1987)

Carla Fracci, a former principal dancer of La Scala Ballet in Milan, is among the rare class of ballerinas who continued to perform into her 50s and beyond. Romantic ballets were her calling card throughout her career. In 1987, when Fracci was 51, she was featured in a television special, dancing reconstructed 19th-century ballets in the style of historical ballerinas. In this clip of La Esmeralda from the program, Fracci and her partner Stephen Jefferies, a former principal at The Royal Ballet, deliver an extraordinary performance, capturing the verve and spirit of their characters.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Ask Amy: How Can I Make the Most of Performance Opportunities in a Pandemic?

My school is connected to a professional company that operates on a show-to-show basis. Students can audition for company performances when they're 15. My 15th birthday is in February, and I think that our directors are choosing people to participate in virtual performances based off of whether they have performed with the company before. This was supposed to be my big first year with the company, but COVID-19 has changed that. How do I make it known that I want to participate? Do you think I should wait until things are more normal? —Lila
Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks