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Review by Seth Rogovoy

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
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[DANCE REVIEW] Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at Jacob's Pillow


Aspen Santa Fe Ballet [photo by Christopher Duggan]

Ted Shawn Theatre
August 13-17, 2008

Petal, choreography by Helen Pickett, music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman
Chameleon, choreography by Itzik Galili, music by John Cage
Slingerland, choreography by William Forsythe, music by Gavin Bryars
1st Flash, choreography by Jorma Elo, music by Jean Sibelius

by Seth Rogovoy

(BECKET, Mass., August 14, 2008) -- Dancer Lauren Alzamora was the star of an evening with many stars, as Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performed works by four international choreographers in a witty and entertaining program.

Artistic director Tom Mossbrucker aptly chooses dances that play to his company's strengths. These are classically trained dancers who for the most part choose to live in the Southwest due to their love of nature and the outdoors; hence, they are as vibrant and athletic as they are precise (sometimes more so).

The company has also come to favor theatrical dances, dances that still exist within the traditional format of dance (never edging into dance-theater) but that call upon the individual dancers' personalities, facial expressions, and acting skills nearly as much as their ability to move with precision, en pointe or off.

At times, the company performed what could be thought of as extreme ballet, such as in Petal, which bathed the dancers in yellow and pink walls and had them dancing as if bees in a flower -- very busy, hypercharged bees at that. Slingerland, too, called upon a hyperkinetic tendency; in this case, an extreme pas de deux which emphasized pure angles and shapes formed by Katherine Eberle and Sam Chittenden with the speed and force hinting at violence underneath.

Itzik Galili's Chameleon was the highlight of the evening, a short theatrical piece that nevertheless packed in a whirlwind of emotion in spite of the dancers being rooted almost entirely to chairs. While they may have technically been performing from a seated position, that didn't stop the five dancers, with Alzamora the alluring centerpiece, from gesturing and bending into just about every possible position one could from a chair, as well as voguing different attitudes, as the title hints.

Aspen Santa Fe's visits to the Pillow are always highlights of the season, and this year's program did not disappoint on that account.

Seth Rogovoy is editor-in-chief at award-winning critic-at-large at Berkshire Living.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet [photo by Ben Rudick]

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