Cindy Brandle Mini Festival

Cindy Brandle Mini Festival
November 13, 2017 Shelly Chapple Clements
Photos by Christa Wetzler-Scott, Cindy Brandle, Eli Akerstein and Annabelle Denmark. Image courtesy of Cindy Brandle.

Photos by Christa Wetzler-Scott, Cindy Brandle, Eli Akerstein and Annabelle Denmark. Image courtesy of Cindy Brandle.

In the warm space of the Gordon Gamm Theatre, Cindy Brandle walked on stage with a kind heart.  She spoke of purpose and community which are too often these days just words, but on this particular weekend, concepts in action through dance.  Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27-28, Cindy Brandle Dance Company presented CBDC and Friends, an inaugural mini dance festival advocating breath, heart and soul.  “CBDC’s mission is to bring thoughtful, passionate and athletic evenings of dance to our community,” said the director’s note in the program.  

Cindy Brandle came to Colorado seven years ago from Chicago where she was fully immersed in the dance scene for 16 years and co-directed Chicago Moving Company.  She craved a connection to the dance community in Colorado, specifically the Boulder community, and had been wanting to create a festival modeled after The Other Dance Festival that had been created by Chicago Moving Company and enjoyed a ten-year run.  She shared with the audience that she applied for and did not receive a grant for the festival.  She compared the compilation of guests on the shared bill to “asking a bunch of people on a first date.”  Well, they all showed up for the date and shared their passion and dedication to the live performing arts with the Dairy Arts Center audience.  

The always stunning Boulder-based 3rd Law Dance Theater opened the show with an excerpt from their upcoming concert Lost in Place showing at the Dairy Dec. 1 & 2 at 7:30pm and Dec. 3 at 4pm.  Lost In Place was choreographed by Katie Elliott to Nannou by Aphex Twin.  This piece shot me back in time to 1990’s-style modern dance in San Francisco.  The piece was just a bit gritty, gestural and feminine with a cast of nine female dancers.  It was a percussive portrayal of anticipation and rush.  It was costumed like a shopping trip to your favorite vintage store.  It brought to light our constant coexistence with one another traveling both parallel and perpendicular paths.

Cindy Brandle and Tara Oldfield co-choreographed and danced a monotone, ceremonial work entitled For Nora.  It was preceded by a list of names on the scrim and this acknowledgement led us into what felt like a sacred experience revealed.  The two women flowed through mindful mirrored movement in shadowed side lighting and appeared to be having isolated experiences that always led them back together.  The soundtrack was Elemental Prayer by Tenzin Choegyal and Jessie Paris Smith; it carried us through the realms of the Buddha and called in the elements.   

Boulder Ballet presented both a jaunty, academic cat-and-mouse ditty entitled Classical Ballet and vampiric story Divided We Fall.  Mary Willmeng, a CBDC guest artist danced a soft stepping and maternal solo called Falling Rain to music by Andrew Bird.  The movement was pregnant with caution.  It was encompassing and lethargic with cycles of circles.  Ali Weeks, CBDC company member, choreographed and danced a duet, Uprising, with partner Anna Claire Brunelli.  The piece had the feel of a personal, even carnal voyage to another place. The music was House by the Sea by Iron & Wine.

Tara Oldfield returned to the stage with a multimedia dance, music and film piece called I am Uncovered (Dance for Camera from CBDC’s Revealed).  The film, “Imagine the After,” was directed and edited by David Jordan, the choreography by Cindy Brandle.  Tara is a seasoned dancer who created a sense of weightlessness both on the stage and on the screen.  Evolving Doors Dance presented Bending the Road, a breathy duet danced by Lucy Vurusic Riner and Angie Simmons, artistic director, choreographer and founder of the contemporary modern dance company.  CBDC returned to the stage with In this place…we are.  Dancers Nicole Zozulia and Bridget Heddens collaborated to create this duet in which the audience was drawn to the moments of stillness and intrigued by the dancers’ protected gaze.   Nosilla Dance Project and choreographer and dancer Alli Jones presented A Walk With You, a duet that brought to mind the feeling of spending a perfect summer day with one’s best friend.  Myself and those near me sighed with the light feeling of happiness this piece shone upon us.  The show closed with The Healing Trio from CDBC’s Revealed, choreographed and danced by Tara Oldfield, Ali Weeks and Nicole Zozulia emphasizing that dance artists dance because they are called to do so.

Art holds our hands and walks us through our lives with better understanding, more compassion, and fresh inspiration.  The CBDC and Friends annual mini festival is booked at the Dairy next year for Oct. 5 and 6, 2018.


Shelly Chapple Clements was raised in rural Pennsylvania, in Amish Country.  She was drawn to the city of Pittsburgh through dance at the young age of 9 and never looked back.  Her dance education took her from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, to the National Academy of Arts in Champagne-Urbana, IL.  Shelly returned east and graduated from the renowned Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts after which she enjoyed a professional modern dance career in San Francisco from 1990-2002.  She is a master instructor for young dancers and currently teaches ballet in Littleton and Highlands Ranch and is the Artistic Director of Youth Programs for DAMAGEDANCE.  Shelly has been a Colorado resident since 2002 and holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Spanish Interpretation and Translation, Hispanic Literature, and Theatre Dance from Colorado Mesa University, and attended the master’s program at the School of Education and Human Development at University of Colorado Denver.  Her passion for writing gives voice to the dancer who speaks not on the stage.  

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