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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at Jacob's Pillow
by Elyse Sommer
Jacob's Pillow is not just a Berkshire treasure but a national treasure and no visit to this area is complete without at least one visit to what is lovingly referred to as "The Pillow." For all the improvements and additions to a constantly evolving and growing organization like this, the dance festival retains its woodsy feeling and exuberance.
Given the feast of cultural activities demanding coverage, my own visits to Beckett are far fewer than I'd like. Happily I was able to catch the exciting young Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Company last Friday. If you read this too late to catch this inventive group's Jacob's Pillow appearance, you'll want to watch out for them as they expand their appearances away from their Denver home base.
The dozen young dancers who make up the company look more like champion athletes than dancers, a fact underscored by the eye popping statue-like poses they frequently strike. To lend excitement to their appearance at the Ted Shawn Theatre, they presented Moses Pendleton's tour-de-force "Noir Blanc," This at once flashy and simple piece of choreographic wizardry (actually a collaboration between Pendleton, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Nutmeg Ballet and his own company, MOMIX), is as unusual a dance piece as I've seen in a long while.
Initially the ghostly, black and white stick figures on stage makes you wonder if you've stumbled into the Cirque du Soleil since the dancers seem to be suspended from wires as in an acrobatic number at a circus. But no. . .the floating, leaping figures are completely wireless and the eerie, otherworldly flotation effect is made possible by Pendleton's costume concept (executed by Phoebe Katzin) which has the dancers clad in black and white unitards and a scrim. The fantastical noir blanc figures lean backward and forward and at times seem to have lost arms and legs. At times the shapes also metamorphoses into bird, fish and outer space images. The concerpt is artful but never artsy or inaccessible.
The program, which included three other works ends July 13th -- but there are lots of other not to be missed events coming up -- both at the large Ted Shawn venue and the more intimate Doris Duke Studio. That's not to mention the lectures, free inside/out presentation and enjoyable dining to make a single visit to Jacob's Pillow insufficient. For details about what's happening, visit the Jacob's Pillow web site
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