Colorado Ballet and Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, New York, NY
March 6, 2005
Ballet Aspen Santa Fe
Joyce Theater, New York, NY
Reviewed by Clive Barnes
If New Yorkers couldn’t get to the Rocky Mountains this ski season, then the Rocky Mountains came to New York, in the form of the Colorado and Aspen Santa Fe Ballets. Not too many states in the Union can boast of two such well-groomed classic troupes, even if Aspen Santa Fe—which sounds more like a railroad than a dance company—is, as its name suggests, shared with New Mexico.
The larger and longer established of the two is Martin Fredmann’s Colorado Ballet, now in its 44th year and counted among the leading troupes in the country for its size (27 dancers), annual budget ($6 million), and scope. This trip, the company’s third to New York, featured two ballets that had had their world premieres on February 5 in Denver: Konstantin Uralsky’s Rachmaninov Second and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Vital Sensations. They were separated by a batch of divertissements clearly devised to show off the company’s versatility.
Ironically, a couple of these bits and pieces were the highlights of the performance. While a duet by Toru Shimazaki was simply atrocious, and, at least out of context, a duet from Michael Pink’s Dracula needed a blood transfusion, absolutely delightful were Petipa’s showpiece from The Talisman (1889), stylishly danced by a buoyant Koichi Kubo and a lissome Sharon Wehner, and the luminous final pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s first full-evening ballet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This artistic gem, created in 1997 for the Denver troupe, was danced here by its excellent original cast, the Bolshoi-trained Marina Mosina and the Estonian Igor Vassin.
It is a pity the company couldn’t have brought the full ballet, which as I recall from Denver performances is fascinating, while Uralsky’s deadly dull Rachmaninov Second proved little more than choreography by numbers. (More than half a century ago, Walter Gore created a wonderful dramatic ballet called Winter Night to this same music, which was far more contemporary than Uralsky’s posturing.)
Moultrie’s Vital Sensations, to salsa music, was certainly livelier, and was vividly danced by a dozen of Colorado’s finest. Yet somehow it didn’t catch the same musical spirit that characterized Trey McIntyre’s Like a Samba, which ended the performances of Jean-Philippe Malaty and Tom Mossbrucker’s Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, a modest but terrific chamber company of 11 chic and charming dancers, with a winningly distinctive repertory on its welcome return Joyce season.
This is a model of what a small classic company should be, evident in its imaginative and mysterious opening ballet, Nicolo Fonte’s Left Unsaid, right through a couple of standards: Lar Lubovitch’s sultry Fandango, set to Ravel’s essay in climax and monument to musical excess, Bolero, and sinuously danced by Lauren Alzamora and Sam Chittenden, and Twyla Tharp’s adagio-styled Sinatra Suite, brilliantly given by Brooke Klinger and Seth DelGrasso.
Colorado—in both sizes—has some lovely dancers. And I guess the skiing isn’t bad either.