DanceBrazil opens Aspen Santa Fe Ballet season |

DanceBrazil opens Aspen Santa Fe Ballet season

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
DanceBrazil will open the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet summer season with two performances at the Aspen District Theatre on Wednesday.
Andrea Mohin/Courtesy photo | 30078407A

If You Go …

What: DanceBrazil

Where: Aspen District Theatre

When: Wednesday, July 8, 8 p.m.

Cost: $25-$74

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;

If You Go …

What: ‘Dance for Kids’ presented by DanceBrazil

Where: Aspen District Theatre

When: Wednesday, July 8, 4 p.m.

Cost: $25

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s nine-performance summer season, which opens this week with two performances by DanceBrazil, has a decidedly international flavor this season.

The New York-based DanceBrazil, which evolved out of workshops bringing Brazilian dance to North American audiences in the late 1970s, fuses capoeira movement with Afro-Brazilian traditions and contemporary dance. DanceBrazil comes to Aspen following a two-week run at the Joyce Theater in New York.

Along with DanceBrazil’s two shows Wednesday, the global season includes performances such as the Spanish flamenco of Juan Siddi Flamenco (July 23) and the Canadian Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (Aug. 7 and 8). The locally based 12-dancer Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company also is staging three performances of its own — July 18, 28 and Aug. 22 — that bring the world to the Aspen stage. In each evening performance, the company is performing pieces from its stable of world-renowned choreographers: “1st Flash” by Finnish superstar and Aspen regular Jorma Elo, “Beautiful Mistake” by Spain’s Cayetano Soto and the world premiere of a new work by Spanish-born, Chicago-based choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.

“Dance is a universal language,” said Aspen Santa Fe Executive Director Jean-Philippe Malaty. “There are no barriers, no borders. It’s easy in this world to reach out across countries and continents because we all speak the same language.”

The full two-month summer season marks the return of the local company after a winter hiatus following December performances of “The Nutcracker.” Instead of its regular season of Aspen Santa Fe repertory and guest company performances in Aspen last winter, the in-demand company toured through 10 North American cities.

“Hopefully people missed us,” Malaty said.

The summer shows will serve as a precursor to Aspen Santa Fe’s 20th-anniversary season, which begins in December. But another anniversary, Malaty noted, is worth celebrating now. Last month marked one year since Aspen Santa Fe took the Santa Fe-based Juan Siddi Flamenco company under its management in the hopes of keeping the fledgling company alive and growing its national profile.

“It was a big gamble for us to take them under our umbrella,” Malaty said. “We celebrate big successes, but we also celebrate small steps. So a one-year anniversary can be a big deal.”

New faces

Aspen Santa Fe has three new dancers joining its ranks this season and is growing in size from 11 to 12 company dancers.

Jenelle Figgins comes to Aspen from Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she had been dancing professionally for three years and where she won the 2014 Princess Grace Award. Newcomer Anthony Tiedeman arrives straight from the Juilliard School’s dance program. Pete Leo Walker joins the company after five seasons with the Charlotte Ballet in North Carolina — in 2013, he was named among Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 to Watch.”

The three newcomers made their way into the company in diverse ways. Tiedeman was discovered at Juilliard during Malaty and Aspen Santa Fe Artistic Director Tom Mossbrucker’s annual scouting trip there. Walker won his spot through a video audition. Figgins earned hers through a traditional in-person audition in Aspen.

“One of our strengths is being able to manage change; we’re always morphing as an organization,” Malaty said. “Last year, it was taking on the flamenco company. This year, it’s taking on new dancers.”

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