No two-headed dance monsters on the Aspen Santa Fe line
Tom Mossbrucker and Jean-Philippe Malaty are ballet dancers who met 18 years ago and have been together ever since on and off stage. In 1995, on an invitation from Bebe Schweppe, who had founded the Aspen Ballet School five years earlier, to build a company. The couple wanted to make it more stable, nurturing and creative for dancers who routinely face tough times and rough career choices.
“We didn’t know how to run a company, but being dancers ourselves we learned a lot. We knew what not to do,” Matalay said. “We know how to compromise, we are one CEO instead of a two-headed monster. It takes away a lot of stress.”
ASFB splits their time between Aspen and Santa Fe, New Mexico and continues to grow as a contemporary classical ballet company. “We have one founding dancer who has been us for 14 years. We’ve been fortunate to have very little turnover.”
The troupe of ten is capping a 35-city tour in Philadelphia, then on to Kennedy Center prior to their main home season in Aspen. For their first appearance at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia they performed William Forsythe’s sensually athletic pas de deux Slingerland (love that potato chip tutu). The wildly romantic In Hidden Seconds by Nicolo Fonte with dancers appearing and vanishing via a slit black backdrop.
Also on the program a reconstruction of Sue’s Leg, a dance comedy choreographed by Twyla Tharp, set to Fats Waller. It was great to see them triumph with this piece. They presented it at the American Dance Festival and during the performance the sound system exploded. After a 15 minute break the dancers returned valiantly to finish the piece but never recovered the moment. The capper last night was Red Sweet by Jorma Elo which Jean-Philippe said is their new signature.
The pair, beaming with smiles and twin floral shirts talked to everybody last night and were genuinely glad to see me. “Writers always say they will stop by to say hello and then we never meet them. I always think it’s because they hated the performance and are going to write something nasty.”