Floor work Fernando Melo at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
At ASPEN SANTA FE BALLET
During the performance of Fernando Melo’s new work, Dream Play, by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, audience members won’t necessarily be looking at the dancers — not in the typical sense. Melo’s piece presents an inventive way of seeing dance. The performers will be on the floor, and their movements filmed and projected onto a screen in real time. The piece is included in an evening of mixed repertoire from the company on Saturday, July 15, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. “We are playing with perspective,” Melo said, speaking in between rehearsals in Aspen. “We are playing with giving the audience a different performance, a different experience of a theatrical show . ... The audience plays a very important role in interpreting the piece. It’s a concept that tricks the eye of the audience and invites them to experience this shift of perception.” The rehearsal process required its own shifts in perception — and, for the ASFB dancers, a shift in physical position. During the piece’s six weeks of development, the dancers were lying and moving on the floor, an unusual space for professionals used to making the floor a springboard for vertical movement. “We began by exploring what is possible on the floor, and what movements we could do. How can you reinvent things like walking, sitting, standing? We spent a period of exploration where we discovered what is and what is not possible in the studio.”
Melo credits the company’s dancers for their dedicated engagement with the process of figuring out what is and isn’t possible. The rehearsals, while exceptional in their spatial demands and unfolding movements, are typical for Melo in that they are an exploratory, collaborative process, with each person contributing their insights. “As a result, you have the most unforeseen results — the most exhilarating ones. Things you couldn’t have imagined start to emerge.” Music for the piece is by Erik Satie and Frédéric Chopin. Melo views music as vital to creating a dance’s atmosphere. “It’s there to support the scene that we’re creating” — but not, as is often the case with choreography, as the determiner of when steps must occur and what the dance must therefore become.
This is Melo’s second commission for ASFB, following his 2016 piece Re:play, which the Los Angeles Times praised for “capturing snapshots of movement in fragmentary flashes of light, like the frames of a film.” Melo visits Santa Fe from his home base of Gothenburg, Sweden, where he is rehearsal director for the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani. After leaving Rio de Janeiro at age sixteen, the Brazilian choreographer trained with