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Diavolo: Architecture in Motion

by Andrew Travers
Diavolo uses a variety of structures to compliment its dancers' on-stage movement. The company's performances have been described as "architecture in motion."
Julie Shelton |

If You Go…

Diavolo

Presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Aspen District Theatre

July 5 & 6

8 p.m.

Diavolo Dance for Kids!

Presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Aspen District Theatre

July 5

4 p.m.

http://www.aspensantafeballet.com

“No other dance company looks like Diavolo,” says Aspen Santa Fe Ballet executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty.

Diavolo, an innovative Los Angeles-based dance company, opens a busy summer season at Aspen Santa Fe with performances July 5 and 6. The company was founded by Jacques Heim — who has also choreographed works for Cirque du Soleil — and combines contemporary dance with acrobatics, gymnastics, martial arts and hip-hop.

This summer’s local Diavolo shows mark the company’s third stop in Aspen, where its athletic performances have made it a popular attraction. Diavolo’s pieces have incorporated the use of skateboard half-pipes, rock-climbing walls and other unique dance props. Heim has characterized Diavolo as “architecture in motion,” due to its creative use of structures to complement its choreography.



“People in Aspen can really relate to it,” says Malaty. “It’s almost like physical theater.”

Diavolo’s Independence Day weekend in Aspen features two evening programs and one for kids.




Two weeks later, Aspen Santa Fe’s dancers stage their only local performance of the summer, with encore presentations of Norbert de la Cruz’s “Square None,” Jiri Kylian’s “Return to a Strange Land” and Nicolo Fonte’s “The Heart(s)pace,” which debuted during the winter season.

On July 22 and Aug. 5, Juan Siddi Flamenco Santa Fe performs a program of the traditional Spanish dance. Local audiences will likely be seeing more of Siddi and his 13 dancers in coming Aspen Santa Fe seasons. The local nonprofit dance company this spring took over management of the six-year-old Santa Fe-based flamenco troupe.

Malaty says the burgeoning dance company reminded him of Aspen Santa Fe in its early years. Now in its 18th season, Aspen Santa Fe has grown into a nationally renowned touring company, as well as a local treasure. With Juan Siddi operating under its umbrealla, Aspen Santa Fe will assist the young flamenco company with bookings, payroll, staffing and fundraising — the essential day-to-day operations that have allowed the local company to continue commissioning new work and presenting world-class dance in Aspen and Santa Fe.

In late July, the Harlem-based Bototo Yetu returns to Aspen for a cultural exchange and collaborative workshop with Aspen Santa Fe’s Folklorico program. Aspen Santa Fe and Batoto Yetu collaborated here last summer, bringing together Bototo Yetu’s traditional African dance with the dance heritage of Mexico that Folklorico helps preserve in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The two children’s programs will give a joint performance on July 26.

On Aug. 8, New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht leads an ensemble of acclaimed performers in a program titled “Stars of American Ballet.” The one-night program is nearly sold-out already, Malaty said, and brings to Aspen a combination of classical and contemporary pieces from the likes of George Balanchine and Christopher Wheeldon. The evening’s presentation of Gerald Arpino’s “Light Rain” will include dancers from Aspen Santa Fe alongside the guest artists.

The summer season closes Aug. 16 with the return of Ballet West. The Salt Lake City company was among the first dance organizations in the mountain west. Longtime locals will recall their performances here in school gymnasiums during the 1970, while young people may recognize Ballet West from the CW reality TV show “Breaking Pointe.”

Malaty calls the local performance “a tribute to the origins of ballet in Aspen.” Ballet West’s show includes pieces by Balanchine, Fonte and Jodie Gates.