Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - — Michael Wade Simp­son

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, Sept. 3

Sa­man­tha Klanac Cam­panile got a funny send-off on Satur­day night at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. It was her last per­for­mance in Santa Fe after 15 sea­sons with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. There were speeches, tears, ap­plause, flow­ers, and hugs at the be­gin­ning and end of the pro­gram. In be­tween, we barely got a chance to see her dance.

Cam­panile has spent her en­tire ca­reer with ASFB. She was al­ways the tallest fe­male dancer in the com­pany, at 5 feet 7 inches, and the lines she cre­ated in the many pieces of orig­i­nal chore­og­ra­phy she has danced over the years were al­ways big­ger, longer, and stronger than those of the other women. She has a face Modigliani would have painted — round with big, wide-open eyes. Her essence has al­ways been fem­i­nine yet fierce, and there was a cer­tain in­no­cence in what she was do­ing, as if out­side forces were mak­ing her twist and turn in un­nat­u­ral ways, usu­ally at light­ning speed. She seems young to be re­tir­ing from dance. At thirty-three, how­ever, she wants to pur­sue other in­ter­ests and per­haps have a child.

In a re­cent in­ter­view she talked about pre­fer­ring dances that in­clude smiles — “Like a Samba” by Trey McIn­tyre was a per­sonal fa­vorite. Hope­fully, she was en­joy­ing “Huma Rojo” in Satur­day night’s per­for­mance, Cayetano Soto’s campy valen­tine to lounge mu­sic, filled with sharp ac­cents and crotch-grab­bing. The smiles on most of the dancers’ faces may have been de­lib­er­ately pasted on, but Cam­panile’s ex­pres­sion was irony-free. Dressed in match­ing red pants and shirts and vamp­ing with drill-team pre­ci­sion, the dancers served up ath­letic, Broad­way-style pizazz. There was no real solo for Cam­panile in the chore­og­ra­phy, but then, be­ing a part of ASFB is about be­ing part of a group — this is not a com­pany with stars — and Cam­panile dug into her ges­tures, beam­ing.

“Silent Ghost,” the other farewell piece for Cam­panile, de­buted here in July 2015. The in­die-rock score tends to the me­lan­choly side, while the move­ment by Alejandro Cer­rudo is full of edges and quick power. Two love duets at the cen­ter of the piece of­fer an emo­tional punch as failed ro­mances that gen­tly play off the am­bi­ence cre­ated by the mu­sic and stage-sweep­ing group dance sec­tions. Here again, how­ever, Cam­panile was in the back­ground.

“Sleep­less,” a Santa Fe pre­miere, was a 1974 dance for Ned­er­lands Dans Theater II — another com­pany with younger dancers — by Jirˇí Kylián. The piece didn’t of­fer up Cam­panile at all but did fea­ture Evan Sup­ple, a new dancer in the com­pany, orig­i­nally from On­tario, Canada, and fresh out of Mary­mount Man­hat­tan Col­lege. Sadie Brown, Emily Proc­tor, Seia Rassenti, Joseph Wat­son, and Łukasz Zie˛ba com­pleted the cast. The set fea­tured a wall of bend­able pan­els that al­lowed arms, heads, feet, and legs to ap­pear and dis­ap­pear with­out ever seem­ing to be at­tached to a body.

The mu­sic, by Dirk Haubrich, was based on Mozart’s Ada­gio and Rondo K.617 for Glass Har­mon­ica and Quar­tet, adding am­bi­ent sounds and elec­tronic dis­tur­bance to the oddly com­fort­ing whine of the glass har­mon­ica. Kylián has been known to be comic, although the jokey sec­tions with dis­ap­pear­ing body parts in this dance were mer­ci­fully short, and the com­po­si­tion moved into bril­liantly facile part­ner­ing ex­plo­rations. One can imag­ine that ballet would en­com­pass only so many ways for a man and woman to move to­gether, yet Kylián’s work shows us how wrong that no­tion is and how rich and end­less the pos­si­bil­i­ties are. Wat­son and Brown, in one of these duets, worked stun­ningly well to­gether, while Proc­tor and Sup­ple seemed even more honed to each other’s en­ergy. This is a piece with gim­micky, crowd­pleas­ing el­e­ments, but also enough chore­o­graphic meat to rise above vaudeville.

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