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Current events

Aspen Times writer
Rock singer Neil Young is the focus of "Neil Young: Heart of Gold," a concert documentary by Jonathan Demme, showing this week at the Wheeler Opera House. (Bob Vergara)

What were the last two concert films that even approach essential status? How about “Stop Making Sense” and “Rust Never Sleeps,” a pair that holds great promise for “Neil Young: Heart of Gold.” The concert documentary pairs the grizzled legend Young, whose memorable late-’70s tour was filmed for “Rust Never Sleeps,” with Jonathan Demme, who directed the compelling “Stop Making Sense,” the 1984 film featuring Talking Heads and David Byrne’s big suit. (Outside the music realm, Demme’s credits include “The Silence of the Lambs.”) Filmed at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, a shrine of acoustic music, “Heart of Gold” captures the acoustic Young, backed by a string orchestra and a chorus that includes Emmylou Harris and Young’s wife, Pegi. The concerts were shot in August of last year, a few months after Young suffered a brain aneurysm. But instead of hailing a fading hero, the film is more likely a celebration of an artist who won’t fade away: The set list is heavy on songs from “Prairie Wind,” the ruminating but excellent album Young recorded after his medical scare. Young saves the familiar hits for the end of the show.

In more than a decade as executive director of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Jim Baker has proved himself a strong administrator. The Ranch, shaky when Baker moved into the director’s chair, is on solid ground with its expanded campus and studios, and a reputation that draws the cream of the fine-arts world to Snowmass Village to teach, talk and create. Before he was kicked upstairs, however, Baker headed the photography program. Baker earned a master’s degree in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has devoted himself to landscape images for all of his working life. Baker announced this week his intention to pursue the next rung in his administrative career; this summer he will leave Anderson Ranch to take over as president of the Maine College of Art. Before he goes, he is being celebrated for his art. James Baker: A Photographic Retrospective, featuring some 20 digital landscape images, shows in the Ranch’s Patton-Malott Galleries through April 7. Scheduled before Baker announced his resignation, it is the first solo show by Baker in his 20 years in Snowmass.

It would be understandable to think Diavolo, the dance company performing this week at the Aspen District Theatre, gets its name from a derivation of the Latin root for devil. But the company’s press materials reveal that the name comes from the Greek “dia,” for “across,” and “volo,” Latin for “I will fly.” The company does fly; its members are gymnasts as much as dancers. And its performances, with titles like “Catapult” and “Tête en L’Air” (“Head in the Air”) have as much to do with reaching for the sky as pointing toes on the floor. It is a tribute to the group’s high-flying theatrics that artistic director Jacques Heim, who founded Diavolo in Los Angeles in 1992, was hired by Cirque de Soleil to choreograph its permanent Las Vegas show “Ka,” which opened early in 2005. Diavolo performs at the District Theatre Tuesday and Wednesday, March 28-29; the shows are presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

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