Aspen Santa Fe Ballet takes on Cayetano Soto 2

asfb-soto-1You’re seated amidst a smallish audience in a theater in the middle of the country. You’re not in New York, you’re not in London. But you’re watching an advancement the art of classical ballet.

It’s the premiere, this past weekend in Aspen, Colorado, of a new work by Cayetano Soto for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet — the fourth ballet by the Spanish-born, Munich-based choreographer to enter ASFB’s repertory and his second commission for the adventurous company.

With a big wink, Soto entitles his creation, set to music by Olafur Arnalds and Charles Wilson, “Beautiful Mistake.”

Oh really? A mistake? Nothing in this ballet — not a beat nor a move — seems less than purposeful. A massive abstract exploration of shifts of body weight manifest in exceptional partnering, “Mistake” spools at a careful pace, slow enough for the viewer to dig in. Soto’s splendid co-conspirators are the sleek, detail-driven Aspen Santa Fe dancers who nail his skewed contortions—the asymmetric dance-design, off-kilter lifts, zigzagged body wrappings. It all has integrity and taste, and profits from the high level of combined individual artistry that is the hallmark of this 17-year-old boutique dance troupe.

Costumer Nete Joseph garbs ASFB’s body-licious dancers minimally in chic black swimwear … women in bubble tops that descend from a turtle neck and fall open on the sides; men in long-sleeved sheer shirts and snug trunks. All dancers are bare-legged and wear soft ballet slippers.

The work, a dark underground journey that is somber but not depressing, has three sections. Two couples commence the ballet, soon revealing the stabbing and swinging arrow-legs that pierce the air and impel the action. The music, for awhile, has strings backing a smooth piano sound. A trio ensues, followed by a duet for Katherine Bolanos and Samantha Campanile, their pretty faces taking on a hardened aspect. In floats a little disco beat and a decadent aura emerges. Joseph Watson presides, soloing, his long limbs grounding him as his torso grows wiggy, a little loony. Nolan McGahan partners Bolanos in fits and starts; she’s freaky-faced, extreme, a deer in the headlights, reigning in high lifts. Then, in silence, Katie Dehler, in carved precision, leads her fellow dancers, a drill team, through Soto’s rigorous machinations.

A bar of heavy lighting canisters, hung far upstage, descends throughout “Mistake,” and designer Seah Johnson’s dark visual scheme keeps the proceedings cloaked in mystery.

A single viewing of “Beautiful Mistake” may prove insufficient. Its seriousness,  marvelous pacing, physical confidence, and the way the dancers seize on its creative opportunities, make it important. For me it came as a state-of-the-art ballet moment.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performs next week at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and then at the Laguna Dance Festival.

2 thoughts on “Aspen Santa Fe Ballet takes on Cayetano Soto

  1. Carole Valleskey Aug 13,2013 10:19 am

    Sounds like just a stunning new ballet, by a choreographer of whom I hadn’t heard. And that the company headed by Tom Mossbrucker is superb. Beautiful writing. Thank you

  2. Keith Jul 29,2013 11:58 pm

    Beautifully written! Body-licious, carved precision, spooling, detail-driven,skewed contortions—the asymmetric, off-kilter lifts, zigzagged body wrappings, boutique dance. Must be a real pleasure to watch in a small theater. Glad to read about it, thanks!

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