In the Harris Theater program for the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet the founder, Bebe Schweppe, makes reference to how the beauty of their surrounds in Aspen and Santa Fe affects their work. The beautiful lighting of their first piece, “Over Glow”, in changing hues of golden and green did in fact conjure big skies and the lush sun of the Southwest (lighting design by Jordan Tuinman). While quite different with dark mists creating interesting shadows, the set and lighting (by Seah Johnson) for the two subsequent pieces, “Beautiful Mistake” and “Last” were similarly inspired. Yes, the dancing was nearly flawless throughout, but the lighting was so superior that it seems to have starred in its own right
Although “Over Glow” and “Beautiful Mistake” had different choreographers, Jorma Elo and Cayetano Soto respectively, they were surprisingly similar in the movement styles, such that one wondered if this were simply the signature of this dance troupe.
“Over Glow” did have more transformer break dancing type moves against a backdrop of Mendelssohn and Beethoven classical music. On its own Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D would not usually suggest quirky moves and dancers taking turns as apparent agents of force fields affecting their fellow dancers, but it did to Elo, giving us a rich visual chew.
Soto’s “Beautiful Mistake” similarly had many bursts of small rapid movements alternating with slower glides or stops. The black clad dancers would come in from the shadows and leave to the shadows, dancing to music by Ólafur Arnalds and Charles Wilson. At times duets would rise into strong vertical poses giving the entire piece a feel of reverie.
But the real show stopper and reason to clear the decks if this troupe comes back to town was the last piece called “Last”. Cerrudo, a choreographer familiar to fans of the Hubbard, created a moving canvass that never failed to hold our interest. At one point the sound system either broke down by accident or purposely went silent—it was difficult to tell—but having the effect of underlining the perfection of the dancers moving as an ensemble. It concludes with an extended duet performed with great strength and grace, and as this photo suggests, the dancers know also that they are achingly beautiful.
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Fourth photo- of "Beautiful Mistake" by Rosalie O'Connor
All other photos by Sharen Bradford