Aspen Santa Fe Ballet opens summer season |

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet opens summer season

Andrew Travers The Aspen Times
Jenelle Figgins and Craig Black in "Re:Play."
Michael Alvarez/Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, ‘Little mortal jump,’ ‘Re:Play,’ ‘The Heart(s)pace’

Where: Aspen District Theatre

When: Saturday, July 9 & 12, 8 p.m.

How much: $25-$94

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;


What: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Dane for Kids!

Where: Aspen District Theatre

When: Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m.

How much: $25

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;


Upcoming at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

July 21, Juan Siddi Flamenco Santa Fe

July 29, Dancing with the Stars gala

Aug. 4, L.A. Dance Project

Aug. 13, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Aug. 16, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, ‘Sleepless,’ ‘Silent Ghost,’ ‘Huma Rojo’

Aug. 27, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, encore

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s studio has become a bastion of creative freedom for global choreographers over the past two decades. This weekend, as the company opens the summer season of its ongoing 20th anniversary celebration, it showcases work by three choreographers who’ve found inspiration and broken new ground here.

American Nicolo Fonte has eight ballets in the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet repertoire and has turned into an in-demand creative force for companies around the world over his 16 years working here. Aspen Santa Fe will perform his most recent local creation, 2014’s “The Heart(s)pace” this weekend.

“It’s like coming home,” Fonte said during one of his stints working in Aspen. “I know the dancers extremely well, I know the organization extremely well, and I know how it works.”

Alejandro Cerrudo has made two ballets with the local dancers, who will for the first time perform his 2012 ballet “Little mortal jump” in Saturday’s program.

“They’re open to anything,” Cerrudo said of the local company last year during local rehearsals. “You find that some places but not everywhere. And that’s a valuable thing. It takes pressure off of the choreographer and encourages you to go for it, to try new things, to not play it safe.”

Cerrudo is resident choreographer at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, where he debuted “Little mortal jump.” At 35, the Spanish-born, Chicago-based Cerrudo still moves with a dancer’s alacrity and works collaboratively with his dancers. He first tried his hand at choreography when he was 21 and dancing with the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany. There, he began taking choreography workshops to help him grow as a dancer. His first commission came from Hubbard Street in 2006. His pieces are now performed by companies around the world. Aspen Santa Fe is the third company to perform “Little mortal jump.”

The ballet requires large set pieces — boxes and walls that run across the stage. On a recent visit to the Aspen Santa Fe studio at Colorado Mountain College, 12 dancers were perfecting a section where they change costumes while stuck to the walls.

“It’s a ballet we love, and I think it’s one of his best works,” said Aspen Santa Fe executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty.

The newest member of the Aspen Santa Fe choreographic family is Brazilian Fernando Melo, who made his local debut early this year with the innovative “Re:Play,” which the company brings back Saturday.

Set under precise lighting designed by former dancer Seah Johnson, the concept of the work is to repeatedly construct and deconstruct a single scene, with 10 dancers moving in and out, literally replaying the action in what Melo dubbed “a rhythmic journey of images.” The stage lighting cuts between blackouts, offering snapshots of action. The piece is a technical breakthrough for dance, making use of lighting technology that, Malaty noted, wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago.

The tightly controlled sequences of the piece were put together with mathematic precision. There are hints of violence, of a woman (an intense Emily Proctor) in peril — but what they say or mean, and what the plot is, is up to the viewers.

“Every so often dance can be experienced in a sensory way which allows us as an audience to grasp real meaning from the movement, almost without being able to put it into words,” Melo said this winter. “This exciting and complex transaction between performer and audience is the nucleus of my work; where the audience plays the crucial roll of interpreting the piece. I’d like to invite the audience to approach the piece without expectations, so as to leave room for whatever interpretations may arise for them while watching.”

After his first time working in Aspen, Melo — like Fonte and Cerrudo — spoke highly of the company and its dancers.

“I really enjoyed collaborating with the unique artists at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet — a group of young, multi-talented dancers led by a wonderful team,” he said. “Together they have attracted national and international recognition for their brilliance.”