ASPEN SANTA FE BALLET HISTORY
Ballet's dynamic story in the American West
In 1996 Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Founder Bebe Schweppe invited Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty to create a ballet company in Aspen. A unique multidimensional arts organization developed rapidly from the ballet school Schweppe had established in the Rocky Mountains.
"Bebe's vision for Aspen to have its own ballet company was the project of a lifetime," says Malaty, ASFB's executive director. "We embarked together on a serendipitous adventure. Seventeen years later, the connection between the dancers and our two communities is deep and inextricable."
Forging a new frontier
The company began modestly, with six dancers. Growth was organic. Friends in the field - Gerald Arpino, Trey McIntyre, Septime Webre, Dwight Rhoden - offered start-up repertoire. 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.
Innovative business model
In 2000 the Aspen, Colorado-based ballet company forged a duel-city relationship with Santa Fe, New Mexico, broadening its scope and lending crucial revenue diversification. Under this hybrid business model, a roster of arts activities takes wing, year-round, in both cities. Performance, education, presentation and community outreach all belong to/flourish in/join in the mix. Within this innovative structure, ASFB celebrated its 15th anniversary season in 2011.
ASFB's mission places highest priority on developing new choreography and nurturing relationships with emerging choreographers. The company fostered the early careers of now in-demand global dance makers like Nicolo Fonte (10 commissioned Fonte works in the ASFB repertoire), Jorma Elo (4 commissioned Elo works), Edwaard Liang, Jacopo Godani, Helen Pickett, Cayetano Soto and others. Works by late 20th century masters - William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor - round out the repertoire.
"We value building relationships with choreographers who become integral to the company. The natural beauty of our surroundings has a profound impact on creativity and our choreographers find it inspiring to create here," says Mossbrucker, ASFB's artistic director.
Based for seventeen years in the American West, ASFB has advanced to the vanguard of its field and forged a strong national reputation. Repeat engagements at the American Dance Festival, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Joyce Theater, The Kennedy Center, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Wolf Trap testify to the company's popularity and ability to please audiences. Overseas invitations arrived and ASFB embarked on international tours to Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Guatemala, Israel, Italy and Russia. Premier funders - The National Endowment of the Arts, the Joyce Foundation, the Wolf Trap Foundation, Dance St. Louis and The Princess Grace Foundation - have supported ASFB's growth.
Accolades into the future
In recognition of their pioneering and innovative model for American dance, Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty were honored by the Joyce Theater Foundation with the Joyce Theater Award in 2010. In the 2011-13 seasons, ASFB veteran dancers Seth Del Grasso, Sam Chittenden and Katie Dehler, respectively, retired each having given more than a decade of artistic service to the company. New dancers have been incorporated. The always evolving Aspen Santa Fe Ballet looks to a bright future with high energy and optimism.