Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 1, 2010

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

UMass Fine Arts Center, Amherst, MA
May 1, 2010
by Stacie Beland

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, a fairly new company with an already extensive repertoire from the most influential choreographers in the world, presented a stunning showcase of four pieces. The program, which featured unconnected works each by a different choreographer, was tightly bound together by common themes and powerful dancing. Though ballet sometimes has a reputation for being somewhat boringly pretty, these powerful works were nothing short of spectacular.

The first, In Hidden Seconds, choreography by Nicolo Fonte, used stage haze - a shared responsibility of stage design between the choreographer and the lighting designer to create a mood of mystical transition. This powerful show opener presented the company in a stunning exhibition of movement that fluidly moved from staged anarchy to entropy to harmony and back again. It was a riveting, haunting piece.

Twyla Tharp's Sue's Leg followed -- a joyful piece, bolstered by the music of Thomas "Fats" Walker. The dancers, costumed rather contemporarily in khakis and muted colors, moved as though there was a sly and subtle amount of flirtatious underscoring. The controlled actions included a few well-placed finger snaps, winks, and easy movements that highlighted the breezy fun of the choreography.

Slingerland showcased the choreography, lighting design, and costuming by William Forsythe. A contemporary pas-de-deux took a ballerina and her male partner through a series of movements while keeping their hands tightly clasped together the entire time. There was a sense of "catch and release" through each tableau. It was a stirring and beautifully executed.

Lastly, the audience was treated to a work by Jorma Elo. Red Sweet, performed by the company, paired the music of Vivaldi and Biber with calculated, intricate movement. A work of passion, it's comprised of tight scenes of control, release, and play. As the music became bigger, so to did the movements; during the silences of transition between music, Elo set movement with poignancy.

It was a night of stunning, powerful dance -- a visual treat for anyone who stood witness to it. Aspen Santa Fe has leapt into the world of dance and is here to stay.