Archive for the ‘Martha Clarke’ Category

ASFB in "Red Sweet" by Jorma Elo/Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a relatively young company, but its stature in the dance world has grown quickly. As one of the country’s premiere commissioning organizations for new work, ASFB has established ongoing relationships with a number of choreographers. They include Nicolo Fonte and Jorma Elo, whose latest pieces frame the troupe’s upcoming performance Saturday night at Winspear Opera House. It’s the third time in seven years that ASFB has been part of the dance season put on by presenting organization TITAS.

I recently talked to artistic director Tom Mossbrucker about his group’s approach to dance, the way they select the choreographers they want to work with, their business model and their focus on beauty. My review of the show ran Sunday in The Dallas Morning News. Here’s Margaret Putnam’s take for Theater Jones.

Tom Mossbrucker

Mossbrucker, a former Joffrey Ballet dancer, and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty were recruited in 1996 by Aspen Ballet School founder Bebe Schweppe to start a company. In 2000, they expanded to a second home base in Santa Fe. The group puts on seasons in both cities and tours about 12 weeks a year, performing work by some of the best dance-makers in history, among them George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Paul Taylor, Martha Clarke, Lar Lubovitch, David Parsons, Laura Dean and Karole Armitage.

ASFB in "Chameleon" by Itzik Galili/Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

DFW Dance Blog: How would you describe the style of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet?

Mossbrucker: We’re a contemporary ballet company. The dancers are all classically trained. And the repertoire is contemporary based, so a little different from a modern company or a classical ballet company. I would describe it as contemporary dance.

The women are able to dance on pointe and many of our dances are performed on pointe, though we’re not doing any pointe work in Dallas. The choreographers we choose use a broad vocabulary, modern and ballet vocabulary.

 DFWDB: The company is successful both artistically and financially, even in this down economy. Is it that you’re based in these two affluent communities that support the arts or is it something else?

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Eiko & Koma to revive River (1995) at the American Dance Festival. Photo by Philip Trager

As Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, recently pointed out to me, modern dance is old enough now to have classics. The American Dance Festival is out to prove that this summer while also trying to push the form forward by commissioning new works.

Held at Duke University in Durham, N.C., since 1977 and with roots dating back to the 1930s, the festival opens next week with a gala starring North Carolina’s own Mark Dendy, Scottish Dance Theatre, Martha Clarke, African American Dance Ensemble (led by Chuck Davis, who hosts Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s annual DanceAfrica show) and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Clarke returns to the festival July 18-20 for a commissioned world premiere on a bill with a revival of Twyla Tharp’s 1996 work, Sweet Fields.

ADF also is bringing back a pair of dance pieces that were key — along with Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs and The Catherine Wheel — to me becoming a dance lover in the 1980s and later a dance critic: Rosas danst Rosas (1983) by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (June 10-12), with its feminist take on modern angst using a vocabulary of intense everyday movement, and Bill T. Jones’ D-Man in the Waters (1989), dealing with death metaphorically in a gorgeously rendered swimming motif (June 16-18). (Jones’ 1990 The Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land is the best thing I’ve ever seen on a stage.) Eiko & Koma (July 5-6) also bring their retrospective tour back to Durham with a site-specific performance of River (1995) at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Running for six weeks, through July 23, the festival is rounded out with Yossi Berg & Odef Graf (June 14-15), Tao Dance Theater (June 20-22), Evidence and Dayton Contemporary Dance (June 23-25), Rosie Herrera (June 27-29), Pilobolus (June 30-July 2), Emanuel Gat Dance (July 7-9), Doug Varone and Dancers (July 11-13), Shen Wei Dance Arts (July 14-16), Bulareyaung Pagarlava (July 18-20) and Paul Taylor Dance Company (July 21-23). Herrera, Pilobolus, Shen Wei, Pagarlava and Taylor each premiere ADF commissions.

My ADF stories from last year’s festival are here. Press release after the jump.

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