Aspen Santa Fe Ballet brings updated art form to Steamboat |

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet brings updated art form to Steamboat

Evolution on pointe

Margaret Hair

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is not interested in performing “Swan Lake.”

“I think that ballet is an evolving art form, and if you keep on showing the same old ballets that we were doing in the 1700s, people aren’t going to relate to it,” said Jean-Philippe Malaty, executive director of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. The company performs three contemporary dance pieces Saturday at Steamboat Springs High School.

“I think that the art form will eventually die if it doesn’t keep moving forward. By presenting new work, people get excited about it the way they did in the 1700s and the 1800s,” Malaty said.

The performance, presented by Steamboat Dance Theatre, is more than a year in the making, said event organizer and former Dance Theatre president Wendy Smith Mikelsons.

“It’s a huge undertaking for us,” Smith Mikelsons said, explaining the need to book well in advance.

In addition to working with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s schedule of touring and presenting concerts in its dual homes of Colorado and New Mexico, Smith Mikelsons and the Steamboat Dance Theatre juggled stage availability at the high school to plan the concert. Load-in for the company’s technical director starts this morning; the high school stage was occupied until Thursday evening for a school band concert.

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Bringing one of the nation’s leading young ballet companies to Steamboat Springs is part of Steamboat Dance Theatre’s community enrichment mission, Smith Mikelsons said. The organization hosted Chicago-based dance group Hubbard Street 2 in fall 2006, and plans to present a nationally recognized troupe every other fall. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s performance is presented with support from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, the city of Steamboat Springs, the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, Steamboat Dance Theatre and Bear Claw Condominiums.

The three choreographers presented in Saturday’s concert – Twyla Tharp, Jorma Elo and Moses Pendleton – have wide-ranging styles and inspirations, Malaty said.

“They’re very different from each other, and that’s sort of one of the hallmarks of the company, is that we try to present eclectic repertoire so that there’s something for everybody,” he said.

Smith Mikelsons hopes the array of contemporary choreography offers a new experience for members of the dance community, and for those unfamiliar to it.

“There will be people who go, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get dragged to the ballet,’ and then they get there and they go, ‘Wow, we didn’t know we were going to see something like this,'” she said. “And that’s the reaction we’re going for.”

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