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Aspen Santa Fe Ballet specializes in new works for Pittsburgh show

| Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, 9:03 p.m.
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet's 'Beautiful Mistake'
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet's 'Beautiful Mistake'
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet's 'Heart(s)pace'
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet's 'Heart(s)pace'
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet's 'Heart(s)pace'
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet
Aspen Sante Fe Ballet's 'Heart(s)pace'

Pittsburgh Dance Council's audience has an insatiable appetite for new experiences. That's why Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a perfect fit.

“The program we put together especially for Pittsburgh presents who we are as a company,” says artistic director Tom Mossbrucker. “The one most important thing (for us) is commissioning new works. We've made a great commitment over the years to move the art form forward.”

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet will open Pittsburgh Dance Council's season Oct. 11 at the Byham Theater, Downtown. The program will include “Beautiful Mistake” by Cayetano Soto, “Heart(s)pace” by Nicolo Fonte and “Square None” by Norbert de la Cruz III.

The three choreographers, different though they are, all draw on a similar vocabulary — a classical base infused with modern. All three works are abstract.

“Particularly in ‘Beautiful Mistake' and ‘Heart(s)pace,' there's a great difference in dynamic,” Mossbrucker says. “Often times, one thinks of contemporary dance, particularly modern, as dark and moody. Certainly, ‘Beautiful Mistake' has those characteristics.”

“Beautiful Mistake” is a dark, shadowy piece, with the dancers in black and the movement aggressive and angst-ridden.

“What I love about Cayetano's work, and this is the fourth one we've done, is the intricacy of the movement and the partnering. It's like nothing I've ever seen,” Mossbrucker says. “It almost makes the dancers look superhuman in technique and articulation of movement.”

The company asked Fonte to go in the opposite direction and create an exuberant, colorful and joyous piece.

“Believe it or not, he was hesitant to create a happy ballet,” Mossbrucker says. “The more he thought about it, the more he saw the challenge. He really took it to heart. You'll see that in the work. The whole stage is white, like a big, giant white room, like a gallery space. The costumes are in red and look like a heart — not as on a valentine but a real heart. Someone will fall and a group will run over and help. The touching of each other is loving in a gentle way, rather than grabbing. It's very different from what people think of as contemporary dance.”

Mossbrucker is especially proud of the program's third work, “Square None” by Norbert de la Cruz III.

“We were the first to commission him. We actually found him when we went to Juilliard, where, each year, the senior class puts on a production to learn all the aspects — choreography, dancing, staging and marketing. One of the pieces we were struck by was by this kid Norbert. It just didn't look like a piece from a college-level student.”

A year later, Aspen Santa Fe was approached by the Jerome Robbins Foundation for its New Essential Works commissioning project.

“We immediately thought of Norbert,” Mossbrucker says. “Square None” is “very much a journey from beginning to end, but don't try to follow it (that way). He's taken several types of music. The choreography is very similar. It goes from one shift to another. But, in the end, it's a beauty, visually stunning. It's becoming one of our most popular ballets.”

Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

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