AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL
Music - Dance - Theatre - Visual Arts - Film
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With its bold vision, groundbreaking repertoire and virtuoso dancers, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (ASFB) is known as one of the country’s preeminent touring contemporary ballet companies. A European sensibility mixed with American athleticism forges ASFB’s aesthetic, as the company has come to epitomize the contemporary-classical genre. ASFB’s adventurous repertoire, ranging from accessible to sophisticated, resonates with energy and eclecticism.
The performance includes Jiri Kylian’s Return to a Strange Land, a work set to four heart-rending pieces for solo piano written by composer Leos Janacek. Fernando Melo plays with perspective in his floor work Dream Play followed by Cayetano Soto’s funny and playful Huma Rojo, commissioned for the company’s 20th anniversary celebration.
"The dancers of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet seem as comfortable in acrobatic turns and loose limbed falls as they are in soaring grand jetés and crisp fouettés." - Karen Campbell, The Boston Globe
“Virtuoso partnering in a repertoire rich in allusions and emotions. A lively program worth watching.” - Jack Anderson, The New York Times
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's unique vision – top global choreographers, distinctive groundbreaking works, and virtuoso dancers – has fostered a jewel of a dance company in the American West. The company’s pioneering spirit arises from a dual set of home cities: Aspen, nestled in the Rocky Mountains, and Santa Fe, gracing the Southwestern plateau. Shaping the cultural landscape of these communities – and influencing the dance field at large – is a contemporary ballet company now over two decades old. A deep commitment to curating new ballets while cultivating choreographic talent has resulted in a catalogue of adventurous repertoire. A European sensibility glossed with American ebullience forges ASFB’s aesthetic, as the company has come to epitomize the contemporary-classical genre.
The dance company sits at the heart of an unusually multifaceted arts organization. ASFB dance invention flows from this solid foundation, a wellspring of creativity.
Based in the American West, ASFB occupies the vanguard of its field, brandishing a strong national reputation. Repeat engagements at the American Dance Festival, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Joyce Theater, The Kennedy Center, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Wolf Trap testify to the company’s popularity and ability to please audiences. The company has toured overseas as well, with prestigious invitations and bookings in Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, and Russia.
In 1996, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Founder Bebe Schweppe invited Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty to create a ballet company in Aspen. A unique, multidimensional arts organization developed rapidly from the ballet school Schweppe had established in the Rocky Mountains. “Bebe’s vision for Aspen to have its own ballet company was the project of a lifetime,” says Malaty, ASFB’s Executive Director. “We embarked together on a serendipitous adventure. More than twenty years later, the connection between the dancers and our two communities is deep and inextricable.”
The company began modestly with seven dancers. Growth was organic. Friends in the field—Gerald Arpino, Trey McIntyre, Septime Webre, Dwight Rhoden—offered start-up repertoire. Moses Pendleton’s popular Noir Blanc was a seminal event for the young ASFB. It launched a tradition of commissioning new works. An open, exploratory style emerged as Mossbrucker and Malaty tapped the creative scene in Europe where classical ballet was breaking from its boundaries. The athletic and adventurous American dancers found themselves at a crossroads of dance history. The divide between ballet and modern dance was dissolving.
In 2000, the Aspen, Colorado-based ballet company forged a dual-city relationship with Santa Fe, New Mexico, broadening its scope and lending crucial revenue diversification. Under this hybrid business model, a roster of arts activities flourishes year-round in both cities. Performance, education, presentation, and community outreach all join in the mix. In 2014, ASFB shared resources with a local troupe, Juan Siddi Flamenco Santa Fe (JSFSF). This entrepreneurial project led to artistic heights at Jacob’s Pillow and New York’s Joyce Theater. Fortified with new experience and relationships, JSFSF continues to thrive in its own right.
Generous support has been provided by Barbara and Larry Freiman.
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