FREE COMMUNITY DANCE EVENTS THIS FALL
“Dance is fun. And the cool thing about dance is that you can do it on stage, or in the studio, or at your daughter’s wedding. Anyone can do it. Dance is for every body.” — Mary Wohl Haan, Dance Bridge.
If you live in Colorado and love dance, then November is going to be a very good month. Whether you are in the mood to watch a sampling of performances by local dance companies and studios, try out hip hop for the first time, see students
show off their own Michael Jackson inspired choreography, or take a workshop from some of Colorado’s best dance professionals, there is something for everyone this month. And it’s all offered for free.
Dance Bridge Dance is for Every Body!
Dance Bridge’s annual festival Dance is for Every Body! showcases a wide variety of dancers and dance styles. The two weekend long event allows local professional and non-professional dancers, companies, studios, and schools to present work, works-in-progress, open rehearsals, structured improvisations, mini lectures, and activities with audience participation. The schedule is fluid, audience members can come and go as they please, and it’s all meant to be a fun, relaxed, family-friendly way for the public to enjoy and experience and participate in dance.
The diversity of groups and dance and movement styles participating in Dance is for Every Body! is impressive. Participants include professional companies (e.g., The Schiff Dance Collective) showing polished work or work-in-progress as well as dance studios and student groups looking for a place to show off what they can do. Past Showcases have included audience participation Samba dancing, Hawaiian and Middle Eastern performances, American Square Dancing (Calico & Boots), students from East High School, CU Boulder, and Naropa, middle school students, and a master tap instructor and former Broadway performer (Gene GeBauer).
There are typically 35-45 groups and a few hundred dancers participating, and 700 or 800 people watching over the course of the Showcase. Dancers — and audiences — come from all over the Front Range. Mary Wohl Haan, Dance Bridge Coordinator and dancer, choreographer, company director, and teacher, has been organizing Dance is for Every Body! since 2003. She says, “Dance is for Every Body! is about creating community through dance. We want to entertain and educate as many people as possible. You will see all kinds of bodies and all ages up on the stage, from little baby ballerinas to 80 something year old tap dancers.”
The Canyon Theater performances will run continuously and people are invited to stop by any time and stay as long as they like. Some presentations will invite the audience to get up on stage and participate. This event is open to all ages. Haan says “We have kids sitting on the steps, some people coming and going and coming back, and some people staying all day. One year we had 30 people up on stage doing Samba. It’s a big family thing.”
Funded by the City of Boulder Office of Arts and Culture, Dance is for Every Body! will take place on Saturday, November 7 from 11 am to 4 pm and on Sunday, November 8 from 1 pm to 4 pm at the Boulder Public Library main campus (1001 Arapahoe Avenue). A second round of shorter Showcases will be held on Saturday, November 14 from 11 am to 12 noon at the George Reynolds Branch (3595 Table Mesa Drive) and from 3 pm to 4 pm at the Meadows Branch (4800 Baseline Road). A tentative and very flexible schedule will be posted by November 2 on the Dance Bridge website http://boulderarts.org/dance-bridge/.
Denver Arts and Venues Chance to Dance
Denver Arts and Venues highlights the diversity of dance in Denver with its third annual Chance to Dance to be held on November 7 from 9 am to 5 pm in The Studio Loft at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The public is invited to join in this free, all-day event of master classes, workshops, choreography competition, and short performances. Brooke Dilling, Special Events Coordinator for Denver Arts and Venues, says “this event was originally designed as a fun event for children, but this year’s Chance to Dance aims to expose the public to a variety of local professional dance companies and studios.” Chance to Dance will be held on the first Saturday of Denver Arts Week, a city-wide celebration of art and culture.
Participants will have a wide range of choices for dance related workshops and master classes in the morning. Mark Gabrielle de Bell, production manager of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Boettcher Concert Hall, will offer a Master Class Workshop session on lighting for dance production. Dawn Fay, Producing Director of Wonderbound, will teach a workshop on music and choreography. Technique master classes will be offered in a variety of styles by teachers from Colorado Ballet (classical), Cleo Parker Robinson (modern), BBoy Factory (hip hop), Mudra Dance (Indian), Iluminar Aerial Dance (aerial), and Bennett School of Irish Dance. Almost all classes are open to students of all ages and abilities, and most have an enrollment of around 30-35 students.
Chance to Dance also will feature a student choreography competition called Dance off, open to DPS students from ECE to 12 grade. Denver Arts and Venues is partnering with Bringing Back the Arts Foundation to sponsor this competition. This year’s theme, “Michael Jackson”, is sure to inspire some creative and fun choreography. Cash prizes will be awarded, and each participant will receive a SWAG bag. The judges will include Ian Flaws (BBoy Factory), Jeanette Trujillo (Flamenco Denver), and Cedric Hall from Cleo Parker Robinson. Short performances by Swingin’ Denver (lindy hop), Spoke N Motion (integrated dance), BBoy Factory (hip hop), Sweatshop Dance (pre-professional dance academy), and the Ni Shang Dance Academy (Chinese dance) will be interspersed throughout the competition.
At the lunch break, local dance companies and studios will set up booths to inform people about their classes, events, and opportunities. Visit www.bringbackarts.org for more information on the choreography competition and how to enter. Advance registration for the master classes and workshops is advised at www.artsandvenuesdenver.com/events-programs/chance-to-dance/. Snacks will be available. Bring a sack lunch. And dance away!
Denver Ballet Guild Showcase of Dance
The Denver Ballet Guild introduces school children to dance as a performing art every fall at its annual Showcase of Dance, to be held this year on November 4, 5, and 6 at Colorado Heights University. Professional dance companies and local studios are invited to perform at Showcase of Dance. There are two performances each day, and each one showcases classical ballet, contemporary, and cultural dance, thus exposing children to a variety of styles and techniques. Showcase of Dance is open by invitation and free of charge to DPS students in 1 through 5 grades. Nearly 6,000 school children, teachers, and parents, primarily from Title I schools, attend Showcase each year. “Many of these children are watching a live dance performance for the first time in their lives, and they get so excited,” says Jean Armstrong, President of the Denver Ballet Guild. “We try to serve mostly lower-income schools, and this exposure to the performing arts can be life changing.”
Showcase of Dance is educational as well as entertaining. Before the performance, a curriculum guide drafted by DPS is made available to participating schools to help teachers instruct their students in correct audience etiquette (grades K, 1, 2) and in the elements of dance choreography and performance (grades 3, 4, 5). The children are expected to sit quietly during the performance, clap after and not during each piece, and write illustrated thank you notes to the dancers after returning to school. During the show, Ballet master Peter Davison keeps the pace running smoothly as emcee, and prefaces each piece with a brief introduction to the dance style and to the company performing. Denver dance legend Cleo Parker Robinson also engages the children with stories about traditional African dance. After the show, some of the dancers greet the children as they are exiting the theatre, thus giving audience members the added treat of talking to a “real ballerina” in tutu, a cool hip hopper, or a sari-clad Indian dancer.
Each show runs for about an hour, and three Denver dance companies present excerpts from their repertoire at each performance. Slated to perform this year are Colorado Ballet, Boulder Ballet, Ballet Ariel, Hannah Kahn Dance Company, Kim Robards Dance, Cleo Parker Robinson, Celtic Steps Irish Dance, and Mudra Dance. The Denver Ballet Guild has presented the Showcase of Dance to Denver school children for almost 20 years. The event is planned and organized by volunteers from the Denver Ballet Guild, and all expenses, including school bus transportation, are covered by the Guild. For information about the Denver Ballet Guild, visit www.denverballetguild.org.
Hilary Simons Morland: Hilary works as a free-lance writer, wordsmith, and grant-writer, currently specializing in covering dance and the environment. She serves on the Board of the Denver Ballet Guild and manages Guild Publicity. Hilary is Adjunct Faculty at the Colorado Women’s College, University of Denver, teaching an advanced seminar about climate change. She has had a varied career doing fieldwork on lemurs and monkeys, managing conservation programs in Africa, and being a stay-at-home mom. Hilary is a California native, and holds a BA in Anthropology/Psychology from Reed College and a PhD in Anthropology from Yale University. She studied dance through college and is a life long aficionado of the performing arts. Hilary is very proud to have a son pursuing a BFA in Dance at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.