Diaghilev hung around Venice’s Lido Beach with Lifar. Balanchine cooked Sunday dinners for his favorites. Ballet impresarios need down time. If they genuinely enjoy their artistic charges, they hang around with them on their day off.
Here’s the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic and executive director duo, Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty, on a rare afternoon away from the studio, posing before a “Colorado-Rocky-Mountain-high”-style creek. Joining them is Katie Dehler, ASFB’s senior-most female dancer. Many consider Katie to be the “face” of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
I chatted briefly with Dehler during my recent company visit. Born and raised in St. Joseph, Minnesota, she is a ballerina of the American West. Her degree is from the University of Utah’s Department of Ballet, and she’s made a career not in New York, but by living close to nature. She’s still dancing top-notch works of contemporary choreography in – hello – Colorado. It’s not only a solid career choice, it’s a lifestyle thing.
Now in her thirteenth season with ASFB, Katie’s a veteran performer who finds freedom when she dances. “I want to enjoy myself on stage and not worry so much about doing things correctly,” she told me. “Once, in a performance of a Jorma Elo piece at Wolf Trap, we were all on stage and I felt the group somehow transcend the steps. It brought us all to a special place.
“I’ll always cherish that memory,” she said.
In a moment of utter normalcy captured in the photo above (clickable), Katie and her husband Sam Chittenden (also a long time Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company member) take a break from refurbishing their cool new home outside Aspen.