Dance in full bloom: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents free, sky-soaring shows
Nature’s resilience to drought, harmful microbes and cyclical freezing is perpetually inspiring, but it’s not the only living system that continues to persist in the face of challenges. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has encountered its share of setbacks, from the pandemic to losing its theater space this summer. Still, it’s emerging strong with upcoming presentations — one specifically celebrating the splendor of wildflowers.
After dissolving its 25-year-old, locally based dance company in 2021, partially as a result of pandemic shutdowns and economic sustainability concerns, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet triumphantly delivered the New York City-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet to Aspen in March. It has also managed to continue its award-winning after-school Mexican folkloric dance program and its ballet classes for kids since the novel coronavirus hit by first offering Zoom classes and then providing socially-distanced, in-person classes during the last two-plus years.
Just as the nonprofit gained momentum delivering live performances in March and had a robust summer lineup scheduled, it discovered its space to host visiting dance companies would not be available this summer: Due to renovations, the public school district closed the entire Aspen campus, including the Aspen District Theater.
“Having already curated a full summer of dance performances, this news was especially unfortunate,” said artistic director Tom Mossbrucker. “But challenges bring opportunity, and we quickly pivoted, revising our plans and bringing innovative alternatives.”
Last Wednesday, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklórico performed in the Benedict Music Tent as part of Aspen Music Festival and School’s “De Colores! A Mariachi Celebration.”
Monday, the nonprofit presents “Bloom!” in partnership with Aspen Chamber Resort Association. The free performances star a trio of skilled performers from SWAY, an Australian-based company that blends theater, dance and circus using sway-pole apparatus.
Perched high atop flexible 15-foot poles and dressed in colorful flower petals, the performers explore themes of individuality, diversity, transformation and community as they swing, sway and dance through the vast sky, punctuated by a mountainous backdrop.
Dollywood originally commissioned “Bloom!,” which premiered April 22, 2022 as part of its Flower & Food Festival. Aspen is one of only six U.S. towns where “Bloom!” is scheduled to appear, and audiences are in for an aerial treat.
“It’s a site-specific, interactive and really whimsical performance,” Mossbrucker said. “I wouldn’t say it’s just for children — I’d say it’s for ‘kids’ of all ages, and it really brings out the whimsy.”
The approximately 20-minute shows run three times daily, from Aug. 1-4 at Wagner Park.
“It’s our way of saying ‘thank you.’ The community has been incredible to us for 25 years. They’ve made Aspen Santa Fe Ballet one of the premiere dance organizations in the country,” Mossbrucker said.
When the Aspen District Theater does open at the end of the summer, the nonprofit will present “VIVA MOMIX,” Sept. 6. The world-acclaimed dance illusionists of MOMIX infuse surreal and fantastic worlds with light, shadow, props, and, of course, the human form. They bring a lighthearted approach to visionary choreography, which celebrates the beauty of the body, nature, music, scene and life itself.
Choreographer Moses Pendleton encourages audiences to soak in a “stream of unconsciousness,” as they “sit back, enjoy the magic and take in the optical confusion.”
When: Aug. 1 and 3 at 2 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.; Aug. 2 and 4 at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Where: Wagner Park, Aspen
More info: aspensantafeballet.com
Cost: ‘Bloom’ is free. Tickets for ‘VIVA MOMIX’ (Sept. 6) start at $36.
Note: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents Alonzo King LINES Ballet in Santa Fe July 31 and MOMIX in Santa Fe Sept. 3.