Aspen ballet: Soto’s ‘Uneven’ focuses on choreographer’s life |

Aspen ballet: Soto’s ‘Uneven’ focuses on choreographer’s life

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Lynn Goldsmith/Special to The Aspen TimesAspen Santa Fe Ballet dancers listen to choreographer Cayetano Soto on Thursday before the company's performances at the Aspen District Theatre of "Uneven."

ASPEN – Over the past few years Cayetano Soto has seen a gradual, unplanned progression in his work, moving from the essentially abstract to the entirely personal. Which means Aspenites have begun to learn a lot about the life and emotions of the 34-year-old Barcelona-born, Munich-based choreographer.

Early in 2009, when the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Co. performed the U.S. premiere of “Fugaz,” local audiences got a glimpse of Soto’s sadness and relief over the death of his father, who was dying of cancer while Soto was creating the piece.

“Fugaz” also conveyed the choreographer’s view of death itself: “It’s the saddest piece I’ve ever done,” Soto told The Aspen Times early last year. “It was the most painful ballet to do. I didn’t want it to be black, white; pathetic, placative. It’s the fact of people dying of cancer.”

Aspen gets a chance to catch up on what the choreographer has been experiencing in the year and a half since Soto last worked in Aspen. The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company’s performances, Friday and Saturday at the Aspen District Theatre, feature the world premiere of Soto’s “Uneven.” The piece will include cellist Kimberly Patterson performing the music, by Maya Beiser, live onstage. Also on the program: “Hidden Seconds,” by frequent Aspen Santa Fe Ballet collaborator Nicolo Fonte; and Jorma Elo’s “Red Sweet,” which was commissioned by the local company. (The program will have an encore presentation on Aug. 3.)

Like “Fugaz” – and like all the pieces he has created recently – “Uneven” is meant to penetrate Soto’s state of mind.

“The pieces are more related to what’s going on with me – me, the people around me, my surroundings,” Soto said this week at the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet studios. “Before, I was inspired by music, a book, a picture. Now, I try to investigate more about myself, like a psychoanalyst. Now, they’re more about me.”

The good news is that there is plenty of life to investigate. Soto choreographed a remarkable nine dances over the past season (among them “Kiss Me Goodnight,” inspired by the fact that, even in his mid-30s, Soto gets a nighty-night kiss from his mom whenever the two are together). Lately, he has begun to contemplate how such a busy schedule has thrown him off-balance, a sentiment he explore in “Uneven.”

“I was all around the place, but never in Munich, where I live,” Soto said. “It was a break with my private life. Sometimes I would get up in the night and not know if I was in Munich or Paris or Holland. I had no idea. It was a very weird feeling. It gave me a feeling that I was uneven.”

To illustrate the sense of physical imbalance, Soto has designed for the piece a stage that is itself uneven, rising at the corners. But Soto is also looking to convey the sense of mental dizziness that has been his constant companion.

“The thing I experience a lot lately, I call the restless beast,” he said. “This is what I call my mind. I can be focused, but even when I’m focused I have three things in my mind. At least.

“It’s dangerous – the only thing that can put this on hold is when my boyfriend says, ‘OK, enough is enough. You’re stopping.'”

Soto said the analysis-by-choreography that he practices is beneficial to his state of being.

“It helps a lot, actually,” he said. “It’s like a session, like going to a psychoanalyst. When I see my piece, I psychoanalyze myself.”

But “Uneven” didn’t come in time to give Soto the message about slowing down his pace. While in Aspen, doing some warm-up jumps before a rehearsal, Soto snapped his Achilles tendon, necessitating surgery and a bulky cast on his foot.

“More uneven than this, we cannot get,” he said.

But indicative of the pace he keeps, he was back at rehearsal two days later.

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