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Aspen Santa Fe Ballet premieres ‘Heart(s)pace’ by Nicolo Fonte

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performs “Heart(s)pace,” a work by Nicolo Fonte that will have its first performance in Santa Fe March 21-22 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. (Courtesy of Sharen Bradford)
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performs “Heart(s)pace,” a work by Nicolo Fonte that will have its first performance in Santa Fe March 21-22 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. (Courtesy of Sharen Bradford)
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In many contemporary ballets, the dancers contort in angst while darkness pervades the music, the lighting, the costumes.

Tom Mossbrucker wanted something different for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s newest work when he contacted choreographer Nicolo Fonte.

“Everything you see (in contemporary ballet today) is very dark, very serious and important,” Mossbrucker, the ballet’s artistic director, said in a recent telephone interview. “We decided to go in a completely different direction. The stage is filled with light and color. It’s an exuberant piece … . It’s an abstract work, but it’s heavily influenced by light, love and caring.”

The new work is “Heart(s)pace,” a clever play on words that evokes both the feelings you hold within your heart and the beat of the organ’s life-giving pulse.

Members of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet rehearse “Heart(s)pace,” a new work choreographed by Nicolo Fonte that will be performed with two other pieces in Santa Fe on March 21-22. (Courtesy of Sharen Bradford)

Members of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet rehearse “Heart(s)pace,” a new work choreographed by Nicolo Fonte that will be performed with two other pieces in Santa Fe on March 21-22. (Courtesy of Sharen Bradford)

It will have its Santa Fe premiere on March 21-22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St. The company first performed the work in Aspen on Feb. 14 – a work of the heart presented to the public on Valentine’s Day.

The piece contains references to people caring for each other – a dancer on the floor being helped up by another, tender touches, a lot of eye contact. And the dance opens up to the audience, Mossbrucker said. Rather than feeling that they are peering into a private space, viewers almost feel as if they are part of it.

The second movement is a romantic pas de deux that references classical ballet, including the fact that the woman is en pointe, the only time a dancer is on his or her toes in the piece, he said.

Fonte, who already had created seven works for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, initially wasn’t sure he wanted to do another, according to Mossbrucker. Fonte, who moved from performing to full-time work in choreography in 2000, has worked closely with companies in Spain, Sweden and elsewhere, and was named resident choreographer for Ballet West in Salt Lake City with the 2012-13 season, according to his website.

As the two of them talked about the new dancers in the company, Mossbrucker said, the choreographer became inspired by the idea of working with them. Three of the company’s senior dancers retired in the last two years – and when you’re talking about a troupe of 10, that’s a major difference, he added.

“On the first day, he only worked with three of the newest dancers. He began from a new place, as he knew their strengths and weaknesses,” Mossbrucker said.

In many ways, Mossbrucker added, this work declares to him: “This is the new company. This is who we are now.”

“Heart(s)pace” is set to music by Italian composer Ezio Bosso. “It sounds classical, but it’s also contemporary and upbeat,” Mossbrucker said of the music, which Fonte chose.

“It has that driving, relentless energy to it, as the heart has,” Mossbrucker said. And the music builds and builds to a finale that expresses a true culmination, he added.

The program includes two other pieces that were commissioned for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and already were performed once in the City Different.

The opening work, “Fold by Fold” by choreographer Norbert de la Cruz, is light and beautiful, with a sense of community and interaction among the dancers, Mossbrucker said. The accompanying music also was commissioned from composer Michael Gilbertson.

“Beautiful Mistake,” choreographed by Cayetano Soto, and set to music by Olafur Arnalds and Charles Wilson, is a direct opposite to “Heart(s)pace,” Mossbrucker said. Dancers wear black costumes and move in and out of stark patches of light on the stage. The music is almost dreamy, but the movement is athletic, detached and even aggressive, he said.

The company’s winter season in Santa Fe ends April 19 with an “Encore!” performance of these three pieces.

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