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.”
goodnight, sweet chanteuse
Very sad hearing the news of the death at 92 of Lena Horne this morning. WRTI is playing her music tonight and it reminds what a big star she was, even as she had to break the racial barriers by virtue of her intelligence, class and talent.
She was the first black woman to receive a studio contract. She left Hollywood for the stage and recording because her parts were cut out of films when they played in many parts of the country.
Her vocal talents were underappreciated, but like Garland, she carved out a category of her own. Singing in front of big bands or with trios her sound was indelible, and her voice still strong on recordings she made just a dozen years ago.
A blue flame torch singer at heart, Horne was also subtle jazz stylist, who worked closely with best pal composer Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington’s arranger and mostly uncredited co-composer of many Ellington classics.
Strayhorn, who was gay, and Horne were functionally a couple. In fact despite husbands and lovers, they were inseparable. Strayhorn helped her develop her style and accompanied her on piano. In David Hajdu’s great bio of Strayhorn Lush Life, her musicians talked about Strayhorn’s pychic link to her when she performed.
Horne’s phrasing on standards like Stormy Weather, Love Me or Leave Me and You Go To My Head was among the best renditions of show jazz.
Pull the Cheney
Still reeling from the two bombshells this week.
Who could have guessed that Dick Cheney is behind deregulating the accoustic shut-off valve at the bottom of the BP oil rig. He waived that L&I requisite to save BP $500,00 when they were making the well deal during his administration. The containment tank failed to cap the gusher over the weekend so now the soulless BP execs are saying they are going to have to stuff trash in the pipe to staunch the flow.
I have a suggestion- if the Dick fits, stuff it.
And for years I’ve wanted politcally powerful antigay group The Family Research Council to explain exactly what they were research and which family. I’m delusional of course. That group exists to collect money from homophobes. There is another story about a sick closet case, a FRC co-founder working politically to stop gay rights while he himself might be on the DL. This creeper is named aptly named George Reker
He has been exposed hiring a young man from a gay male escort service off a internet to ‘carry his bags’ (almost witty that) on a two week trip to Europe. He of course denies anything sexual went on in gay Paree. But in the service contract, obtained by CNN in an interview piece with the escort, Reker’s paid for daily massages.
Reker’s was a paid ‘expert’ witness in the state of Florida’s suit to uphold the ban on gay adoptions. So gay couples providing a stable home for an unwanted kid is unacceptable, but Reker’s double life Make that a triple life, he’s a reverend. The FRC is distancing themselves from him not because he could choke on his own hypocrisy but because he might be getting more than rubdowns. That’s all folks.
Along East River Drive on my way out to PABallet studios in East Falls and an unexpected weather show over the Schuylkill River and forest banks of Fairmount Park fielding wind sheers so loud in the trees the rustling drowned out traffic noise. Completely intimate moments that would have otherwise been lost. Fading cloud chambers advancing and steel blue hues on choppy water flashing. I remembered that I was going to see a rehearsal of William Forsythe’s chaotic ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and with wind seemingly both fore and aft around the bike as I furiously pedaled, seemed a perfect prelude.
Flu season is over, but there are lingering ariatic coughs among the opera heroines onstage this week. At the AVA, Mimi, Parisian paramour, is wasting away for her art in Puccini‘s la Boheme and downtown at the OCP, Violetta, la Traviata’s cortesan, is not going to let a little consumption ruin her chances with the mens.
OCP’s Robert Driver said he has mounted many productions of doomed Violetta, but there is always something new to discover in Verdi’s music. “There are a lot of operas I don’t need to do anymore, but I always love traviatta because the story is so compelling. For Verdi, this is the most personal work. Because he was quote living in sin with Giuseppina Strepponi and society didn’t accept her. His father in law from his first marriage, whom he was very close, wrote him a very severe letter about this relationship. It weighed on him and Traviata was a release for him in writing this incredibly poignant story.”
Even though Robert admits to loving many previous casts of the opera, he thinks this one is the strongest he’s directed. “For me, this is the cast. Soprano Leah Partridge sings Violetta and “is just ideal. It doesn’t hurt that she brings the coy gentility of an Atlanta girl” Robert then takes a moment to fantasize about a Traviata set in Atlanta.
British baritone Mark Stone, left on the Academy stage last year in his skivvies in Gianni Schicci plays Germont. “Mark is such a superb actor. And he brings so much thought to this part. The dynamics of the act between Violetta and the father is just the guts of the opera. He finds the perfect dramatic balance. Driver scouted Charles Castronovo, who plays Alfredo, from his first professional role in Don Giovanni in Boston 12 years ago.