24 mixed Aspen SFe Ballet 1

Ximena Garcia (foreground) and other School of ASFB students perform a traditional Mexican folk dance

Nearly 400 young dancers promise to enthrall audiences as the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents its annual recitals on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26.

Aspiring ballerinas in classes at the school advance through Creative Movement and Beginning Ballet to Ballet 1, 2, 3, and 4. “Once our students get to the intermediate level, we add jazz dance, and the advanced girls have modern dance also,” school director Gisela Genschow said. Artistry, technique, and confidence are all encouraged in the school’s dance classes, which are taught by members of the professional Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company and other master teachers.

The Saturday program at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco Street, is the highlight of the school year. It presents ballet dancers as young as three years old and ranging up to 18. The recitals are given at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. “In Creative Movement up to Beginning Ballet, they only perform in one show because we feel it’s a little strenuous for a small child to do two shows in one day,” Genschow said. “Once they’re in Ballet I, they do both shows.”

The recitals are structured to give members of the audience a good idea of dancers’ progress from level to level at the school, which is in its 28th year. The two shows on Saturday start with Creative Dance, performed by the 3- and 4-year-old students, and end with the most advanced dancers.

For the second year in a row, the school commissioned a work, choreographed by Francisco Gella, especially for the advanced girls. It’s the Balletto per la Primavera by Astor Piazzolla. Also on the 2019 program are Scott Joplin’s “The Ragtime Dance,” “Three Shades” from La Bayadère by León Minkus, Scherzo by Franz Schubert, and other dance-worthy pieces.

The Sunday show, held at 6 p.m. at the Lensic, features kids from the capital city’s public schools. These students participate in the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s after-school programs in folklórico (traditional Mexican folk dance) and flamenco. “We go to several schools,” Genschow said. “In folklórico, we have a performance group, so these are the most advanced students.”

Tickets for all recitals are $25; call 505-988-1234 or visit ticketssantafe.com. — Paul Weideman