“I feel very lucky,” she says.
At 34, Aszure Barton, a Canadian-born choreographer/dancer and founder/director of Aszure Barton & Artists, has received world-wide acclaim for her work and has choreographed for legendary performers like Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper and Fan-Yi Sheu (Martha Graham Dance Company) and an international array of top-level companies. She has worked closely with Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was so impressed, he made her the first artist in residence at The Baryshnikov Arts Center in 2005. She still holds that position today, as well as being the artist in residence at The Banff Centre (Alberta, Canada), former resident choreographer (2005-2008) for Le Ballets jazz de Montreal and is the Ambassador of Contemporary Choreography (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). And those are only a few of her accomplishments. Lucky might be an understatement.
Obviously, she also has the talent to back it up. Barton is no stranger to rave reviews. Her work has been hailed as “beautifully mad” by The Edmonton Journal, “deliciously revealing” by the Santa Barbra Independent, “brilliant” by the San Francisco Chronicle, “audacious” by the New York Times, and “fearless” by the Palm beach Daily News. The accolades keep her busy. Very busy. She’s already booking well into 2012.
Right now, she’s in Chicago working with one of our own internationally-acclaimed companies, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Having seen HSDC perform in New York, she was very interested in them as a group of amazing dancers. She’s especially intrigued by the “grounded strength” and power of the women. Setting the piece in four weeks is a bit of a change (she normally likes to take about six weeks). “I like to take my time,” says the energetic artist, who is known for incorporating the quirks and personalities of the dancers. She likens her process to making little families. “I’m moved by the people I’m working with and try to set up a really positive atmosphere, so (they) can trust and feel involved. That takes time.”
The new work, with a working title Untouched, will make its world premiere next Thursday, June 3rd at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance at Millennium Park. The finished product, of course, is a collaborative effort utilizing fellow Canadians Njo Kong Kie and Curtis Macdonald, as well as her friend Liv “Ljova” Zhurbi for the music. She brought the rest of her “team” with her from New York including assistant Jonathan Alsberry (you may remember him from a brief stint with Luna Negra), costume designer Fritz Masten (“an amazing eye”) and lighting designer Nicole Pearce (“magic”). Barton says, “I’m in awe of the people I get to work with and the place I’m in and the opportunities I get to have in this lifetime are pretty amazing.”
This summer Barton will get some much-deserved time off, which she finds a bit scary. What will she do? Relax, spend time with family, travel…you know, “real people things”, she says with a laugh. “It’s hard for me to just do nothing.”