Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow
August 14, 2008 performance reviewed by Connell McGrath.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performed at the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow from August 13 to August 17, 2008. This company is unique in a few important ways. First, it bases itself in two small to midsize cities, bringing significant and enriching dance to them. Second, it does not regularly perform the choreography of either the founder or the current artistic director of the company. This lack of self-serving performance is too little in evidence among contemporary dance companies. Here’s hoping that others will take Aspen Santa Fe’s lead. 2014 Jacob’s Pillow schedule, Contact info. and links
There’s so much good choreography out there to perform, as demonstrated in this program.
Aspen Santa Fe favors contemporary work that uses balletic forms, especially strong here. It wisely started with its weakest link, Petal by Helen Pickett. Pickett is a former dancer with William Forsythe, and his influence is clear in her choreography. What’s notably missing is his genius and perhaps his experience. Much of his dance vocabulary is seen in Petal, and the piece is interesting for the first few minutes, but it eventually becomes a busy blur that lacks direction and left this viewer unmoved.
The work got much stronger after the first intermission with Chameleon by Itzik Galili to music by John Cage. This was an amusing and engaging piece for five women sitting on chairs throughout. They go through a series of exaggerated emotional gestures such as surprise, hurt, flirtatiousness. These gestures were interspersed with more dancerly movements setting up an interesting reference to how dance represents emotion. Chameleon is a funny, one-idea work and Galili knows to keep it short.
Next was a pas de deux from William Forsythe’s Slingerland danced with great control and feeling by Katherine Eberle and Sam Chittenden. It’s beautifully set to Gavin Bryars’ String Quartet No. 1. The only unfortunate aspect of it being the embarrassing post-modern tutu that Ms. Eberle wore.
Saving the best for last, the Company performed 1st Flash by Jorma Elo to Jean Sibelius’ Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op 47. This is a great work by Elo, and the company did right by it. This is a complex and technically demanding work set to Sibelius’ best music. The only regret was the audience’s seeming indifference and customary preoccupation with being the first out of the parking lot.