DanceAspen, a nonprofit contemporary dance company, will premiere its first summer showcase at the Wheeler Opera House on Aug. 25 and 26. This performance, titled “Solstice,” will feature work from world-renowned and award-winning choreographers Matthew Neenan of Philadelphia Ballet and Cayetano Soto of Barcelona, Spain. Audiences can also expect to see an all-time favorite piece by Australian ballet dancer Danielle Rowe.
Executive Director Laurel Winton said that ‘Solstice’ may be DanceAspen’s best production to date; a perfect mix and meld of creations born in the rehearsal process, which has been in session since May.
“We’re looking forward to doing a show while everyone is still in full summer swing,” she said. “I’m excited about ‘Solstice’ specifically because we are bringing some of the top choreographers in the contemporary dance world into this and putting their work alongside our in-house works created by our dancers.”
For Winton, the collaboration with Neenan is a full circle moment. She first met and began working with him during her first professional dance job at Pennsylvania Ballet.
“Working with Matthew again and bringing him to the new company is really exciting,” she said., “Also, Cayetano’s work is just so unique. Both works are physically demanding, but that has been a fun challenge for our dancers to navigate.”
Of Soto’s stylized and structured work, DanceAspen performer Sammy Alteneau added, “Cayetano pushes us in a lot of interesting ways. He definitely likes to play with us by going between narrative-driven and musically-driven internal processes. You never know until after you run a piece with him what he wants to focus on next.”
Dancer Blake Kraples, who has been with DanceAspen for a year, touched on his excitement for these collaborators. Having worked with both Neenan and Soto in the past, he praised the choreographers’ ability to connect with dancers and audiences.
He explained, “A lot of times, choreographers come into a studio and they have this choreographer hat on. Something about Matthew is that, while he is a choreographer and commanding space in the room, he’s also very human and allows us to connect with him in the space.”
Kraples stated that Neenan’s ability to connect with the dancers in tandem with Soto’s dynamic and playful direction will translate on-stage in a way that will resonate with audiences and entice them to return.
“Even if you don’t understand a piece specifically, I think every audience member will see something in their own life,” Kraples continued. “Whether it’s an emotion, the music, the physicality of the dancing, the lighting or the costumes, there’s something that is relatable and will be felt and seen by everyone.”
Adding to those statements, Altenau said the dynamic pieces that have come to fruition throughout rehearsals will feature a range of different elements that will take audiences on many different journeys.
“The pieces are different enough that there’s not one overlying theme for the whole show,” she stated. “You’ll see intense, moody work, satisfying musical numbers and, for our final performance, it’ll be something in-between. It is upbeat, flowy, intense and almost dystopian.”
To purchase tickets for “Solstice” at the Wheeler Opera House on Aug. 25-26, visit www.danceaspen.org