The Quirk Factor

Photography by Jim Lafferty


Aszure Barton is a thoroughly postmodern choreographer: She doesn’t mind if a step is ugly, as long as it’s interesting. Over the past six years, she’s choreographed for American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet of Canada and Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, using her training from Canada’s National Ballet School to shape ballet bodies in new ways.

This September, Barton’s latest work, Angular Momentum, shared a bill with pieces by Twyla Tharp and Julia Adam on Houston Ballet’s all-female-choreographers evening, Women@Art. She began rehearsals with the company with just a score (“Gemini in the Solar Wind,” from Mason Bates’ The B-Sides: Five Pieces for Orchestra & Electronica) and an idea to make a ballet about energy. Barton spent the first few weeks introducing the company to her vocabulary. Her shapes are idiosyncratic, her dynamics unconventional. A grand plié splinters into five different movements. The face is treated like another limb, with even the mouth becoming a choreographic element. “Stanton Welch told me that Houston audiences are willing to try anything, so I could do whatever I wanted,” says Barton. “That takes a lot of trust.”

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