Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Comes Back to Chitown

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet dancers in Alejandro Cerrudo's "Last". Photo by Sharen Bradford.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet?(ASFB) has been busy. Earlier this year, their touring schedule took them to Moscow, Saratoga Springs, CA. and Wolf Trap. The current season, which began on Sept. 1, has already taken them to Laguna Beach, Portland, Oregon and San Diego. The tour finishes this Saturday, Oct. 5 in Chicago at the Harris Theater. Former Joffrey Ballet dancer Tom Mossbrucker brings his company back to town with a mixed repertory program featuring three contemporary choreographers.

“We’re really excited about the program we’re doing in Chicago because it’s all commissioned work,” said Mossbrucker. “It’s become one of our hallmarks, developing relationships with the choreographers instead of just seeing them one time and then never seeing them again. You develop a trust and it shows in the work. This program really highlights that.” Over Glow, “an upbeat piece that shows off the classicism of the dancers”, is the fourth work by Jorma Elo for the company. Set to Mendelssohn and Beethoven, it features an 11-minute adagio in the middle section with intimate moments that contradict Elo’s usual quick, jerky style. “It’s one of my favorite pieces in the repertory,” Mossbrucker said. “I just love it.”

The company is also working with Spanish choreographer Aayetano Soto for the fourth time.?Beautiful Mistake, inspired by “the mistakes we make in our lives that sometimes turn out to be good things”, is his second commission for ASFB. His work Uneven appeared in Chicago at the Chicago Dancing Festival in 2011. “It really shows off that hard-edged side of the dancers,” Mossbrucker said. “His super-physical partnering and the articulation of that makes the dancers look like technical athletes, but with the classical lines still there.” This new work premiered in Aspen earlier this year.

The third work on the program (and the one I’m most excited about) is by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago‘s resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. Mossbrucker, who has seen and presented Cerrudo’s work many times over the last few years, is a big fan. Having danced with Hubbard Street director Glenn Edgerton at Joffrey, he asked his longtime friend if he could “borrow” his choreographer. “He [Cerrudo] has such an intuitive way of knowing what would strike an audience and how many times to introduce it, how to refer to it and to develop off of it,” said Mossbrucker. “There is always something…an image you remember when you leave the theater.” Having such a packed touring schedule meant that they would be traveling with bare bones, so there won’t be any elaborate sets or dramatic theatrics in this work this time – “just pure Alejandro”. This is also the first time Chicago has seen Cerrudo’s work presented on a company outside of Hubbard Street. “I was in the studio watching him create,” Mossbrucker said, “and there was one of those moments where I said, ‘There it is. That’s what I’ve been waiting for’.”

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St., Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25-$75; call 312.334.7777 or visit harristheaterchicago.org.

 

CDF11 Wrap Up

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in "Uneven". Photo by Cheryl Mann.

Last week was quite a week for dance in Chicago.? The Chicago Dancing Festival (CDF) presented five free nights of dance to eager audiences with an estimated 19,000 in attendance over the course of the week.? Many thanks and much gratitude to the CDF staff – Evin Eubanks (Executive Director), Todd Clark (Director of Production), Natalie Williams (Admin Assistant) and of course co-founders/Artistic Directors Lar Lubovitch and Jay Franke for showcasing such phenomenal talent and giving the city another chance to shine.? Mayor Emanuel attending three nights of dance has secured his place as dance in Chicago’s biggest fan.? I was lucky to be able to attend each night of the fest (I missed the free dance movies day) and I have to admit I was a little disappointed this Monday night when there wasn’t a kick ass show to go see.? Spoiled, but grateful.

Here are links to my coverage of the CDF events:? Opening Night Gala, Moderns, MCA Moves, Masters, Muses and Celebration of Dance.? Some of the highlights for me were Richard Move, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Too Beaucoup, Petite Mort), Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (The Legend of Ten), Paul Taylor Dance Company (Eplanade) and New York City Ballet artists Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia (Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux).? I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Martha Graham Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers and Walter Dundervill’s work.? I can’t wait to see who CDF will bring in to perform next year.? Plan ahead: you won’t want to miss CDF2012!

Let me know what you think!? Did you go to any of the CDF shows?? What was your favorite?? Are you now a fan of a company you’d never seen before?? What would you like them to do differently next year?? What companies would you like to see at CDF 2012?

CDF11 Moderns Program

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in "Uneven". Photo by Rosalie O'Connor.

Tonight was the Chicago Dancing Festival‘s (CDF)?Moderns program at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. ?The packed house was ready for a great show and CDF didn’t disappoint. ?Opening with Aspen Santa Fe Ballets commissioned work by Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto Uneven?(2010) set the bar high. ?There was nothing uneven about it. ?The local audience (and Hubbard St fans) might have noticed some hints of Nacho Duato, Ohad Naharin and Jir? Kyl?an in this work, as Soto performed some of their works as a dancer. ?It obviously had a very contemporary European flavor and the ASFB dancers were on top of their game tonight (although it looked like the floor was slippery) as cellist Kimberly Patterson played live on stage.

River North Dance Chicago followed up with Charles Moulton’s Nine Person Precision Ball Passing (1980). ? I sat in on rehearsals last week after the company spent two days learning it. ?This speedy coordination game drew giggles and then awe as the dancers kept the balls in sequence for the seven-minute duration. ?The ?program notes call it “community art in the form of a living Rubik’s Cube” and that mistakes are inevitable. ?Leave it to the perfectionists at Rivno to not make a mistake. ? Doug Varone and Dancers finished up the first act with Varone’s Lux (2006). ?I really enjoyed this piece. ?I hadn’t seen Varone’s work or company before and wasn’t sure what to expect. ?When the announcer said it was set to the music of Philip Glass, the two ladies next to me said, “oh”. ?I’m not sure if it was meant to be good or bad, but it turned out (for me) to be good. ?The dancers’ movement quality was luscious and it just looked like it would be fun to dance. ?With a slowly rising moon on the back drop center stage, it was like a midnight frolic in the moonlight.

Adam Barruch in "Worst Pies in London". Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Adam Barruch‘s solo Worst Pies in London (2008) opened the second act. ?Set to music of the same name from Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, this was really duet between Barruch and Angela Lansbury singing the vocals on track. ?Short, sweet and funny, Barruch looked like a young Jim Carrey with rubbery facial expressions and the flexible body to match. ?Closing the show was Hubbard Street Dance Chicago?(HSDC)?performing Sharon Eyal’s Too Beaucoup (2011). ?This was one of my favorite works from their last season. ?Androgynously clad in flesh-toned body suits with white make up, wigs and contacts, the dancers look like a group of aliens that stumbled upon a mixed cd from earth and decided to have a dance party. ?Weird, kooky, cool. ? A fun, entertaining evening. ?The appreciative audience agreed.