One of the things that makes Aspen truly special is the combination of beauty and opportunity for outdoor athletic pursuit in a location that also has literally world class culture and art. A primary example of this is the Aspen Sante Fe Ballet.
The ASFB as it is known is primarily funded by the two namesake cities, both world renown for their unique identities and love arts. Having these unique locals as the ballets home provides the spirit of the Rocky Mountains and the American Southwest, and with that a striking balance between strength, grace and creativity.
The Aspen Sante Fe Ballet was founded in 1996 by Bebe Schweppe, bringing dancers from New York City to Aspen to begin the company with a modest six dancers. Moses Pendleton’s highly popular Noir Blanc was a seminal event for the young ASFB. It launched a tradition of commissioning new works. An open, exploratory style emerged as Mossbrucker and Malaty tapped the creative scene in Europe where classical ballet was breaking from its boundaries. The athletic and adventurous American dancers found themselves at a crossroads of dance history. The divide between ballet and modern dance was dissolving.
The strong troop has continued to grow and currently has ten dancers: Craig Black, Katherine Bolaños, Sadie Brown, Paul Busch, Samantha Klanac Campanile, Peter Franc, Nolan DeMarco McGahan, Emily Proctor, Seia Rassenti, Joseph Watson. Samantha Klanac Campanile is one of the senior members, hailing from New York, she trained at the American Academy of Ballet, and on scholarship at The Chautauqua Institute, NYSSA, and School of American Ballet. Emily Proctor is a six year veteran A native of North Carolina, Emily trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Prior to joining ASFB, she had the opportunity to tour with Hell’s Kitchen Dance in Aszure Barton’s Come In, which starred Mikhail Baryshnikov.
The ASFB has performed around the world, in 2004 thewy made their international debut in Canada and France and in 2013 were invited to Moscow, Russia to perform at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. They were wildly received with one review reading.
“The energy of Aspen and Santa Fe combines dancers’ athletic build and sport nature of partner dance which sometimes reminds of figure skating. This is an exclusive product the company is happy to share with the audience.”
The ballet traditionally trains for and performs a winter and summer repertoire with of course always making time for a very community integrated performance of the holiday classic The Nutcracker. Locally they perform in an intimate venue where you can literally hear the dancers breathing, nationally the company has made landmark appearances at the famed Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Kennedy Center, New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival, American Dance Festival, Wolftrap, and the Joyce Theater in New York City.
In addition to their own performances the ASFB hosts national and international dance companies on a regular basis, like the Paul Taylor Dance, The Trey McIntyre, Momix, Hubbard Street, and the Complexions Modern Dance Company.
The troop trains locally at the Aspen branch of the Colorado Mountain College, so if you are attending a class or seminar there is a good chance you may see them milling around on break, or it is very common to see a dancer out at dinner with friends as they truly are a part of the community.
In addition to the performances the company has schools in both Aspen and Sante Fe, offering a curriculum of ballet, jazz and modern dance. Providing quality training for the pre-professional student as well as the recreational dancer and guiding many young dancers into professional careers, the school fosters a supportive environment that enhances confidence and accomplishment as well as technique and artistry.
If you are visiting be sure to check the schedule as experiencing a performance by this athletic, graceful troop is beautiful and inspiring.