News and Events
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Performs at Smothers Theatre
The 11-member Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, hailed by The New York Times as "a breath of fresh air," will brings the fresh vitality of the next generation of American contemporary ballet to Pepperdine's Smothers Theatre in Malibu at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.
The company will perform Alejandro Cerrudo's "Last," set to music by Henryk Gorecki; "Stamping Ground," choreographed by Jiri Kylian with music by Carlos Chavez; and Jorma Elo's "Over Glow," with music by Mendelssohn and Beethoven.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet stands out as a model of an exuberant and sophisticated company with a European flair. The versatile and gifted troupe enchants audiences with its musicality, athleticism, and technique-conscious delivery in sophisticated, lively programs that sparkle with an eclectic repertoire by some of the world's foremost choreographers.
In 1996 Aspen Santa Fe Ballet founder Bebe Schweppe invited Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty to create a ballet company in Aspen. A unique multidimensional arts organization developed rapidly from the ballet school Schweppe had established in the Rocky Mountains.
"Bebe's vision for Aspen to have its own ballet company was the project of a lifetime," says Malaty, ASFB's executive director. "We embarked together on a serendipitous adventure. Sixteen years later, the connection between the dancers and our two communities is deep and inextricable."
The company started modestly with six dancers. Growth was organic. Friends in the field--Gerald Arpino, Trey McIntyre, Septime Webre, and Dwight Rhoden--offered start-up repertoire. Moses Pendleton's highly popular Noir Blanc was a seminal event for the young troupe. It launched a tradition of commissioning new work. An open, exploratory style emerged as Mossbrucker and Malaty tapped the creative scene in Europe, where classical ballet was breaking from its boundaries. The athletic and adventurous American dancers found themselves at a crossroads of dance history. The divide between ballet and modern dance was dissolving.
In 2000 the Aspen-based company forged its two-city structure with Santa Fe, broadening its scope and lending crucial revenue diversification. Under this hybrid business model, a roster of arts activities took wing, year round, in both cities. Performance, education, presentation, and community outreach all joined the mix. Rapid growth ensued.
ASFB's mission has always placed highest priority on developing new choreography and nurturing relationships with emerging choreographers. The company fostered the early careers of key global dance makers such as Nicolo Fonte (10 commissioned Fonte works in the ASFB repertoire), Jorma Elo (four commissioned Elo works), Edwaard Liang, Jacopo Godani, Helen Pickett, and others. Works by late-20th-century masters--William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, and Paul Taylor--round out the repertoire.
"For us it's never been about the single work. It's the relationship we build with our choreographers; they become part of the fabric of the company. The natural beauty of our surroundings has a profound impact on creativity, and our choreographers find it inspiring to create here," says Mossbrucker, ASFB's artistic director.
ASFB's sophisticated repertoire combines well with the codirectors' desire to entertain audiences. Repeat engagements at the Joyce Theatre, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, the American Dance Festival, and the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance have built a national reputation. Overseas invitations have arrived from Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, and Italy. From its base in the American West, ASFB has become a player at the vanguard of its industry. Premier funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Joyce Foundation, the Wolf Trap Foundation, Dance St. Louis, and the Princess Grace Foundation have supported ASFB's growth. ASFB recently acted as a U.S. State Department cultural envoy on a tour to Brazil.
In 2010 the Joyce Theatre Foundation conferred upon Mossbrucker and Malaty the Joyce Theatre Award in honor of their pioneering and innovative model for American dance. The always-evolving Aspen Santa Fe Ballet looks to a bright future with energy and optimism.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Center for the Arts Web site.