Bebe Schweppe founded the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in 1996 in Colorado. A former
dancer, Schweppe established the Aspen Ballet School in 1990.
school provides dance training for some 500 students yearly and hosts a Mexican
folklore outreach program. Six years after opening the doors to her academy,
Schweppe called upon Tom Mossbrucker and Jean Philippe Mataly to direct a
professional company in Aspen. In 2000, the troupe officially made a second home
in Santa Fe, splitting their year between the two cities. The company will
officially premiere in Israel on Tuesday with one show at the Haifa
Immediately following, ASFB will continue on to the Herzliya
Performing Arts Center for four additional shows.
Since its inception in
1996, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has been a repertory company. ASFB is a magnet for
internationally acclaimed choreographers, drawing them away from the familiar
studios of New York, London and Paris to the Wild West. In 15 years, ASFB has
presented 24 ballets by the world’s top creators, including Twyla Tharp, Ohad
Naharin and Moses Pendleton of Momix.
Unlike many directors of similar
companies, neither Mossbrucker nor Mataly is a choreographer. Both enjoyed long
careers as dancers; Mossbrucker with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and Mataly
with the Los Angeles Classical Ballet, Ballet Hispanico and others. In a recent
interview with The Jerusalem Post, Mossbrucker explained that while he feels
passionately about good choreography, he does not want to create it himself.
“Because neither one of us choreographs, I can’t rely on myself to make new
pieces for the company. We present four new ballets every
Thankfully, the serene scenery and seasoned dancers of ASFB are a
huge draw for any choreographer. “Some of our dancers have been in the company
for over 10 years.
Our newest has been with us for four. Aspen is
beautiful and quiet. We give the choreographer the whole day to create, and they
really get immersed in what they’re doing. It’s a great place for choreographers
For their Israeli debut, Mossbrucker and Mataly put together a
mixed program, which will introduce local audiences to the unique blend of
contemporary and classical dance for which they have become famous. The evening
will include: Stamping Ground by Jiri Kylian, Red Sweet by Finnish choreographer
Jorma Elo and Where We Left Off by Nicolo Fonte. Though Elo and Fonte will not
accompany the dancers to Israel, this tour also marks their official debut in
Mossbrucker and Mataly spend a great deal of their time
searching for the fresh talents to present. “We are always looking for something
the next great or interesting choreographer. When we see it, we
know it. When we saw Fonte’s work for the first time, we just knew. We were on
the phone calling him right away. The same with Jorma Elo,” said Mossbrucker.”
Though the changing programs ASFB
presents each season keep their audience engaged, the downside is the lack of
personal connection visiting artists have with the 10 dancers of the company.
“The dancers have to be a blank slate for all the choreographers they work with.
They have to strip everything down and fit the choreographer’s vision. What
we’ve tried to do is create relationships with choreographers.
choreographer companies foster strong relationships with dancers. We try to make
Nicolo knows the dancers very well.
He knows their
strengths and weaknesses. If we had a resident choreographer, it would be
Where We Left Off premiered in February and is the eighth ballet
Fonte has made for ASFB.
Over the past several years, Elo has risen to
the top of the dance charts.
He is the house choreographer for the Boston
Ballet and has been commissioned by many international troupes, including New
York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater.
Elo’s work combines sharp,
technical movement with flawless musicality.
“Elo has had a long
affiliation with ASFB,” said Mossbrucker. “This is the third piece he has done
for the company, and we are honored to have him. He’s from Finland, so it was
difficult for us to get a visa for him. We weren’t able to commission him for a
The thing I like about his work is that he uses the same
vocabulary, but the pieces look different on all the dancers.
completely different on our company than on American Ballet Theater or Hubbard
Street. He creates for each company.” Red Sweet was commissioned by ASFB in
The third piece in the program is the oldest, made by Kylian in
“It’s nice for the audience to see a mixed program, and this is a
very interesting one,” said Mossbrucker.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet will
perform at the Haifa Auditorium on March 29 (for tickets, call (04) 835-3506)
and at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center on March 30, 31, April 1 and 2 (for
tickets visit www.hoh-herzliya.co.il or call 1-700-70-2929).