Working with Ms. Aszure Barton

Guest Writer: Samantha Lynch, Corps de Ballet

Another season began at Houston Ballet and the anticipation was building with the opportunity to work with Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton.

Choreographer: Aszure Barton; Photo: Graeme Mitchell

After watching her company, Aszure Barton & Artists, perform in 2010, I was impressed and inspired. It was new, sensitive, musical, and incredibly powerful.

The announcement by our director, Stanton Welch, that Aszure would be creating a new work with Houston Ballet this season was met with a lot of excitement by all.

Day One began with assistant to the choreographer Tobin Del Cuore. Watching him move is like watching a refined racehorse, at times beautifully animalistic. I was in complete awe of how incredible he was. We learnt material from some of her work to prepare to show her the following day.

We meet Aszure on Day Two. With her legs tucked beneath her in the chair she looks deceivingly small; until she gets up and demonstrates a shape, you don’t realize her long legs, beautifully arched feet and huge movement quality.

Aszure Barton and Artist of Houston Ballet; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

She loves to work with detail, clarity and efficiency. Softly spoken in giving directions: “Eyes to the corner on 1, dropping the neck forward on 2”, she would ask “Can you do it with your mouth open?”

Aszure creates this safe space in the studio which in turn gives us the freedom to be completely ourselves. There is a beautiful feeling of community in the room!

One thing I found most appealing about her process is that you feel a part of a workshop. The choreography is learnt by every dancer in the room. It’s not about just working on your steps, it’s about adapting to a certain style, a different way of moving, and building something together.

Her work has a physicality that is precise, powerful and at times sensual and spontaneously witty! Sometimes hours went by simply creating detail in the upper body. Things were constantly evolving, which you can tell is something that inspires her!

Men and women are equal in her movement. There is something so empowering about feeling masculine, yet very feminine at the same time. It feels very honest.

Aszure Barton and Artists of Houston Ballet; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Aszure has this amazing awareness of every person in the room and when she watches you move, you feel she is seeing directly into your soul. She understands and embraces our individual quirks and has a way of picking up on everyone’s “thing”!

She had this unbelievably alluring patience as she watched us move, she genuinely wanted to watch how we felt our way into the movement.

As the days continued, the piece began to take shape to a score by Mason Bates, slowly she let us listen to more, but kept us guessing to what the whole score sounds like. Sometimes I would wait in the studio at the end of the day whilst she and Tobin worked, just to hear a little more of the music! I became so drawn to the process that I wanted to see more, to learn from them as much as I could.

Aszure Barton and Artist of Houston Ballet; Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Every rehearsal with Aszure was just as intensely creative as the one before. She’s a collaborator in every sense, and the work comes first! Working with Aszure has been an incredibly rewarding, and beautiful experience.

Her work premieres September 20th, and Houston is counting down the days.

A link to learn more about Aszure Barton: http://www.aszurebarton.com/

-Samantha Lynch, Corps de Ballet

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Houston Ballet presents Women@Art from September 20-30, 2012. Three of the world’s leading female choreographers take Houston Ballet on a spectacular odyssey of dance with a fall repertory program unlike any other. Featuring a world premiere Angular Momentum by Aszure Barton, the company premiere of Twyla Tharp’s The Brahms-Haydn Variations, and the return of Julia Adam’s Ketubah.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or by visiting www.houstonballet.org.

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