Review: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet starts Pittsburgh Dance Council’s season off strong |
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Review: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet starts Pittsburgh Dance Council’s season off strong

Mark Kanny

Pittsburgh Dance Council’s season opened strongly Oct. 11 with the return of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, a troupe that made its highly successful local debut in February 2010.

The program consisted of three abstract works commissioned by Aspen Santa Fe, all first performed between 2012 and earlier this year.

The evening began most impressively with “Square None” by Norbert De La Cruz III. A recent graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, Cruz showed wonderful creativity in details of movement, flow in the sequence of his ideas, command of stage space and selection of music.

“Square None” begins with the dancers flat on the floor. They acquire individuality as they join the first one to rise up, a section that moves to jagged and irregularly spaced electronic music. One of the most appealing qualities of Cruz’s choreography is the way it develops within each section and from section to section. The pas de deux is followed by a trio for women, who are soon joined by four male dancers. The final section, for all seven dancers, is an exhilarating display of brilliant individuality.

“Beautiful Mistake” by Cayetano Soto followed after the first of two intermissions. Although mostly dark in mood and costume, with all the dancers in black, “Beautiful Mistake” contains in its final duet the evening’s most emotionally satisfying moments.

Samantha Klanac Campanile and Peter Franc were physically exuberant, especially in her movements as he held her aloft, ecstatic.

The program concluded with “The Heart(s)pace” by Nicolo Fonte, whose piece “Hidden Seconds” was the most impressive at this troupe’s Pittsburgh debut.

Fonte’s newer piece, which had its premiere in February, featured the most impressive backdrop — colored lighting, red to start, and geometric side wall patterns. Like the other choreographers, he made excellent use of the dancers’ strengths — fluency in moving from classical ballet language to modern and vernacular styles, precision and stamina.

The relationship between the dancers in Fonte’s piece was often notably more relaxed and even supportive, including helping ones who fall to the stage floor, than in the other works. Yet if these characters were less driven by angst, they were not particularly warm, either. This fit the kinetic music by Ezio Bosso.

The program was very well received by a large audience. Although impressively mixed in age, the audience members shared the ability to respond enthusiastically to dance that was intellectually stimulating, distinctively stylized and brilliantly performed.

Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-3207877 or [email protected].

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