The long-running Aspen Santa Fe Ballet announced today that it will dissolve its nationally renowned dance company—but not the nonprofit as a whole.
"The path of destruction left by the pandemic has affected everyone, and the performing arts community has been hit especially hard," reads a statement from the organization. "We have missed seeing you all and although we have not been able to perform onstage, behind the scenes we have been actively seeking paths towards a healthy recovery."
The statement from Executive Director Jean-Philippe Malaty and Artistic Director Tom Mossbrucker says that while ASFB will no longer produce its own performances, the nonprofit will continue to work with other companies to make events happen in Santa Fe and beyond.
The news isn't all doom and gloom, however, with the nonprofit announcing the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Fund for Innovation in Dance. The fund will focus on matching dancers and companies with resources, plus offers scholarships, after-school programs and dance classes for all ages.
The announcement is a part of the larger performance arts evolution within Santa Fe and beyond as traditional venues and arts nonprofits struggle to make ends meet. Despite the Trump administration's second relief bill in December, which allocated $15 million to the arts sector, many within the performing arts industry see little hope in sight beyond an outright end to the pandemic.
"It's sad news for the people who love the work their dance company does, and that includes me. It really took my breath away when I heard it. But you know things like this are happening for nonprofit organizations," Joel Aalberts, executive director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center, tells SFR. "They've always brought very interesting and compelling performances to the Lensic that our audience appreciated."
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's productions—particularly its famed holiday performances of The Nutcracker—regularly brought in big crowds to the Lensic, according to Aalberts. He adds that while the dance company itself is dissolving, the nonprofit's evolved mission means it will still bring other companies to the Lensic, both virtually and, in the future, in-person. All of that, of course, depends on public health orders set down by the state under its new red-to-green framework.
"Everyone is evolving in different ways. Our hope as a theater is to support all organizations when they're able to come back," Aalberts says. "We're still making space for companies as the cornerstone of our programming. There's a great love of contemporary dance within that company, and they want to use their resources to keep the art form really successful. It's wonderful."
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet was founded in 1996 and reportedly performed roughly 100 ballets from nearly 50 choreographers, including commissioned works, over the last 25 years.