Our guest this week is choreographer Nicolo Fonte. Artistic Director Adam Sklute has invited Nicolo to create a world premiere for Ballet West’s second “Innovations” program. Nicolo is working with the artists of Ballet West for three days this week before he comes back in the spring to fully create his new work. I first met Nicolo in 1989 when I staged James Kudelka’s “The Heart of the Matter” for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. At that time he was a very young and extraordinarily exceptional dancer. It’s an honor to now assist him as he creates an original ballet for Ballet West!
Nicolo Fonte was born in Brooklyn, New York and started dancing at the age of 14. He studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York as well as at the San Francisco Ballet and New York City Ballet Schools while completing a Bachelor Degree of Fine Arts at SUNY Purchase. Upon graduation he danced with Peridance in NYC and later joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal, dancing in the works of Balanchine, Tudor, Kudelka and Spaniard Nacho Duato. Fonte subsequently joined Duato’s Compañia Nacional de Danza in Madrid and forged a strong identity in the Spanish company for seven years – for both his dancing and his choreography. “En los Segundos Ocultos,” (“In Hidden Seconds”), one of three ballets Fonte made for the Spanish company, was hailed as a breakthrough work of great impact with the poetic vision of a mature artist and indeed this ballet established his presence on the European dance scene.
In 2000 Fonte retired from performing to devote himself full-time to his choreographic career. Since that time he has created or staged his ballets for The Dutch National Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Stuttgart Ballet, The Australian Ballet, The Göteborg Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, The Washington Ballet, Ballett Mainz, Ballett Nürnberg, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, TANZ Ensemble Cathy Sharp, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Tulsa Ballet, Ballet British Columbia and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal.
Fonte received a Choo San Goh award for his 2002 collaboration with Pacific Northwest Ballet, “Almost Tango”, of which R.M.Campbell of the Seattle Post- Intelligencer wrote, “Fonte is a thinker, an architect who creates the new rather than reinvent the old. He is a master of manipulating space and creating relationships”
“Almost Tango” was also voted as one of Dance Europe’s “Best Premiere”s when it was re-staged for The Australian Ballet in 2004.
From 2002 to 2006 Nicolo enjoyed an ongoing creative partnership with The Göteborg Ballet in Sweden, creating and staging numerous works that helped establish the company’s distinct profile. While in Göteborg he created his first full-length ballet, based on the life of Tchaikovsky, which was widely acclaimed in the international press for Fonte’s marriage of rare narrative skill and thoroughly contemporary choreographic language. “Re: Tchaikovsky” appeared on the “Best of 2005” lists of both Ballett International and Dance Europe. Fonte has also played an important role in the ongoing development of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet as one of that company’s most popular guest choreographers. To date he has created five highly successful works for ASFB that have toured throughout the US and overseas – Jack Anderson, writing in The New York Times called Fonte “a choreographer worth knowing” when the company presented “Left Unsaid” at The Joyce Theater in 2005. ASFB continues to invest in their relationship with Nicolo Fonte with a planned sixth collaboration set for July of 2008.
The 08-09 ballet season has just begun but already Mr. Fonte has had his first successful premiere – “The Possibility Space”, choreographed for The Australian Ballet. Critics hailed the beauty and power of the dancing as well as the fascinating emotional resonance of the ballet, set to a commissioned score by Australian Ross Edwards. Other upcoming projects include creations for Ballet West, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and once again for The Dutch National Ballet.
Nicolo Fonte with members of Ballet West.
Make sure to visit Nicolo’s website – www.nicolofonte.com.