Aspen Ballet

January 2, 2013

Apsen Ballet Company

By Janine Gastineau

A deft ensemble, the nine members of the Aspen Ballet Company have danced with engaging projection and an appealing largesse since the troupe’s inception in 1993. Coartistic directors Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty wisely exploit these strengths, while tossing in a challenge or two per season (Wheeler Opera House, Aspen, Colorado, March 27-28, 1998). The hyperkinetic Wired (1988), by Sam Watson and Kenneth Comstock, proved its lasting appeal with daffy, charged performances by Patrick Thompson and Brian McSween. The stunning first glimpse of Thomm Ruud’s Mobile–Seth DelGrasso standing in a pool of light, Sarah Evans wrapped about his waist, and Dawn Kopf suspended upon his shoulders, parallel to the floor–was the first of several flawless positions morphing one into another. Valse-Fantaisie, the company’s first attempt at Balanchine, and a respectable start, needs both a surer technique and more time to be absorbed. Dwight Rhoden’s Ear Candy, the strongest work, created especially for ABC last season, begins and ends with the same lovely sight: dancers in floor-length, backless dresses that reveal beautiful expanses of spine and muscle as the dancers stand rooted, undulating from side to side. In between is a wild, voluptuous suite of dances, performed ferociously (hair comes undone, partnering grows tangled) and with economy–these dancers know not to overplay a moment.