Neapoli­tan with three parts choco­late

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Reviews -

Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let pre­sented a re­peat of its Au­gust per­for­mances on Fri­day night — mi­nus the gala el­e­ment. Three pieces, by three Euro­pean-style chore­og­ra­phers (one of the three, Ni­colo Fonte, is Amer­i­can who spent many years danc­ing in Spain for Na­cho Du­ato’s Com­pañia Na­cional de Danza) of­fered an op­por­tu­nity to ap­pre­ci­ate, once again, some up-to-the-minute bal­let chore­og­ra­phy and bril­liant danc­ing.

Aspen Santa Fe, un­der the di­rec­tion of Tom Moss­brucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty, is stak­ing an un­usual artis­tic claim among small-to-mid-sized re­gional bal­let com­pa­nies in Amer­ica. There is a com­mit­ment to com­mis­sion and per­form works by some of the most cut­ting-edge bal­let chore­og­ra­phers around and to pretty much ig­nore ev­ery­thing else. The di­rec­tors have also put to­gether a lean and mean arts or­ga­ni­za­tion, spend­ing a lot of time on the road and cast­ing dancers who can en­dure work­ing at an ex­tremely in­tense level.

A reper­tory con­cert by a dif­fer­ent com­pany might in­clude one piece in AFSB’s genre — a dance by one of its young hot­shots. But clas­si­cal works would ac­com­pany it, in or­der to pro­vide bal­ance and con­text. There are no Balan­chine bal­lets in Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let’s cur­rent reper­toire. The an­nual Nutcracker pro­duc­tion is the only nod to the clas­si­cal reper­tory all year. To watch ASFB, one would think that the quirky mod­ern dance-in­flu­enced works of­fered by these three chore­og­ra­phers rep­re­sented ev­ery­thing that was hap­pen­ing in bal­let. Of course, that is not the case.

How­ever, the 10 dancers of the com­pany looked beau­ti­ful per­form­ing highly phys­i­cal, pointe-shoe­less works by Cayetano Soto, Jorma Elo, and Fonte. If only the works pre­sented weren’t so sim­i­lar to one an­other in style. It be­comes al­most dif­fi­cult to think about them sep­a­rately. The mu­sic, light­ing, and chore­og­ra­phy es­tab­lishes dif­fer­ences be­tween the dances, but each con­tains a sim­i­lar at­ten­tion to quirky ges­tures, sharp-edged part­ner­ing, group en­ergy, and ex­pan­sive phys­i­cal­ity.

How strange to be­came jaded to dy­namic, vir­tu­osic, en­durancetest­ing, full-throt­tle danc­ing. Still, af­ter a while, with­out many pauses to show off a line or let still­ness have its say, one be­comes in­ured to the fla­menco-like grito of it — the shout.

Soto’s Un­even, com­mis­sioned last year and de­buted dur­ing the com­pany’s sum­mer sea­son, fea­tures short cello lines by a soloist (Kimberly Pat­ter­son, in this case) per­formed against pre­re­corded loops of string mu­sic. In this dance, a twitchy, asym­met­ri­cal as­sem­blage of shapes and ath­letic part­ner­ing, it seemed per­fectly log­i­cal that the light­ing de­sign would fea­ture spot­lights that shined, an­noy­ingly, di­rectly into the eyes of the au­di­ence.

The women of the com­pany danced with a cer­tain wild­ness that was ex­cit­ing. Kather­ine Bo­laños, Katie Dehler, and Sa­man­tha Klanac were highly ar­tic­u­late. The men — Wil­liam Can­non, Sam Chit­ten­den, Seth DelGrasso, Nolan DeMarco McGa­han, and Joseph Wat­son — were in charge of en­gag­ing those fem­i­nine en­er­gies. The duets which oc­curred were highly charged and risky-look­ing. So­los, handed out gen­er­ously by Soto, usu­ally served as con­trast to other ac­tion on stage rather

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