Aspen Santa Fe Ballet blends artistry, athleticism

It’s easy to see why Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a favorite with Jacob’s Pillow audiences.
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Categories: Entertainment

BECKET, Mass. — It’s easy to see why Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a favorite with Jacob’s Pillow audiences. The dancers, and how they interpret their given choreography, are perhaps some of contemporary dance’s most alluring. To watch them is to lose oneself in mood, atmosphere and ever-shifting shapes.

Needless to say, on Wednesday night, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet made for a perfect and auspicious Pillow season opener.

But it’s not just audiences that adore Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Choreographers do too as the dancers’ combination of artistry and athleticism translates into not only a vision realized but a vision elevated.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Jacob’s Pillow, Route 20, Becket, Mass.

HOW MUCH: $75-$45

MORE INFO: -413–243- 0745, www.jacobspillow.org

Consider Cayetano Soto’s “Huma Rojo,” which is having its east coast premiere this week at the Pillow. In the bodies of the dancers, this ballet lashes at the mind’s eye as flamenco on steroids.

The dance begins with a voice explaining the lure of self-confidence — how to exude it and how it gets you what you want. An octet, dressed in red turtlenecks and pants, strikes simultaneous poses that ooze strength, wit and sex appeal. Strutting on their toes, the dancers shimmy their hips and preen like cats while their fingers are crimped into claws.

The dancers carry themselves erect as they tramp about the stage to songs by Ray Barretto, Nat “King” Cole, Xavier Cugat, Abbe Lane and Perez Prado reeling audiences back to kitschy days of the early 1960s.

Throughout, the dancers exaggerate winding up their arms, hiking their slacks and jutting out their chests in a spoof on flamenco’s amplified aggressions. “Huma Rojo” is memorable for its sting.

Even better was Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Silent Ghost,” for a cast of 10. Set to contemporary rock, electronic and folk music, the dance is a seamless and beautiful creation. Leading off with a group of five men, the work dives, dips and slides giving way to what feels like an underwater world. When the women join, the tableau blossoms into a universe that one wants to forever reside.

The heart of “Silent Ghost” are the duets with Craig Black and Emily Proctor. She slips through his arms and he embraces and releases her tenderly. They wrap around each other in a gentle pull and push that is heartfelt as their connection is vivid. Together, with the others, the alliance transports viewers to a sweet and humane state of mind.

An otherworldly land is also created in Fernando Melo’s “Re:play.” Sadie Brown is the lead dancer whose walk across the stage gets repeated over and over. Also rewound are her casual encounters with others, thus skewing perceptions of time and place.

While it’s the weakest of dances on the program, “Re:play” demonstrates the power and prowess of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Even the most pedestrian of dances take on a life and color with these fine artists.

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