The Colorado Ballet’s latest season is coming to a close with a ‘bucket list’ performance

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Courtesy Colorado Ballet/Amanda Tipton
The artists of the Colorado Ballet rehearse for “MasterWorks,” the company’s last production of the season.

This season, the Colorado Ballet included two audience favorites, "Dracula," which sold all the way out, and of course, its annual holiday tradition, "The Nutcracker."

Now, the Ballet is rewarding audiences — as well as its own dancers — with a season finale program of three pieces meant to satisfy both groups, "Masterworks."

The annual tradition of "Masterworks" has established itself as a brilliant way to reward the artists in the company for a great season by giving them the challenge of tackling established favorites and newer ones that help mark Colorado Ballet as a world-class company. 

“It's rewarding the artist,” said Artistic Director Gil Boggs. “And I call it the bucket list of ballets that they would love to dance and that, you know, selfishly a little bit, that I would love to see.”

The Colorado Ballet has been dancing for 62 years. And while each season is different, some things remain the same. For instance, it has been performing "The Nutcracker" each year since the 1961-1962 season, including a virtual performance at the height of the COVID pandemic.

But now, as those restrictions ease, audiences and company members are celebrating in person with "Masterworks" capping it all off for this season … at least until the new season starts later this year.

This year’s "Masterworks" program features the Colorado Ballet Orchestra in concert for Balanchine's “Prodigal Son,” Clark Tippet's “Max Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1,” and Jiří Kylián'sSinfonietta.”

Colorado Ballet fans will recognize the choreographer of “Sinfonietta” because of another amazing piece the company has recently performed for "Masterworks," Kylián's “Petite Mort.” 

Boggs had initially secured Kylián's “Sinfonietta” for the company’s 60th anniversary, which, like many things, was interrupted by the pandemic. Boggs said the company is delighted to finally be able to perform it now. 

“Every aspect of this, the music, the choreography, the intensity, the emotions that it brings out of an audience are amazing to witness,” Boggs said.

Corps de ballet dancer Catie McGregor says “Sinfonietta” is vibrant and plays well with the music. 

“I would just say [the audience needs] to know that it's about experiencing life and everything to its fullest and just, you know, the sheer joy in all of that,” McGregor said.

Principal dancer Christophor Moulton said he appreciates the opportunity to work directly with the experts, known as répétiteurs, to stage Kylián’s ballet.

“Kylián’s works are very beautiful because they're so musical, they have intent behind each step and with every répétiteur that's come to set his pieces,”  Moulton said. “Say for ‘Sinfonietta’ that we're doing this year, they're very good at explaining the intent behind each step, while also allowing us to express our emotions.”

Urtzi Aranburu is the répétiteur working with the dancers as that expert and he describes “Sinfonietta” as a very difficult ballet, especially because of the musicality of the piece; it was initially created for performance by the Netherlands Dance Theater

“When I was a dancer, I was always looking at how ballet teachers, assistants, stagers were working,” Aranburu said. “And I was always thinking like, ‘If one day I will set a ballet, I will try to do it like they do.’”

Aranburu describes Colorado Ballet’s dancers as very well prepared and trained. 

“And the technique is excellent,” Aranburu said, also praising the dedication of the dancers. “It's very nice for me. Also makes my life easier.”

McGregor says "Masterworks" is a good way to end the season, ahead of the new season’s premiere of “Swan Lake” in October.

“It's one of those moments where in the ballet we get to kind of feel like, ‘We did it.’ It's almost like a cap on the season. Now we're celebrating all together on stage and just closing that chapter. That feels really, really good.”

For Moulton, who began his dance training in his hometown of Colorado Springs, dancing this kind of programming in a world-class ballet company so close to home has deep meaning for him.   

“This was the company that I grew up watching and always wanted to be a part of,” Moulton said. “And just to see how much it's grown with the community and the population and how much love the community has for us. It's incredible. Yeah. It's a lot.”

Colorado Ballet presents “Masterworks” at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver April 14-23.