Wicked Bayou with The Widow’s Bane
On the enchanting evening of October 18, 2023, I had the privilege of attending Wicked Bayou with The Widow’s Bane at the Wonderbound venue in Denver, Colorado. The performance was a part of Wonderbound’s 10th anniversary celebration, and it proved to be a mesmerizing fusion of contemporary ballet, live music, and spellbinding storytelling.
The wonderment began as soon as I stepped into their new venue, which lives at the convergence of tradition and innovation per their description. The ambiance was mysterious and inviting, setting the stage for this journey into the unknown.
The Widow’s Bane, a live and enthralling band hailing from the unknown, provided the musical backdrop for the entire show. Their haunting melodies, evocative lyrics, and immersive performance enhanced the overall experience. From the first note, it was evident that the music was going to play a crucial role in weaving the narrative.
The performance introduced us to the characters of Seraphine and Armand, childhood friends who fall in love. Their journey was at the heart of the story, and it was beautifully depicted through the art of contemporary ballet. The choreography was not only visually striking but also emotionally resonant, as it portrayed the nuances of their relationship and the challenges they would encounter in the dangerous and mysterious marshland. The emotional depth of the performance reached its peak when Armand’s father passed away. In this heart-wrenching scene, the dancer portraying Armand shed real tears, and the band fell silent, allowing the raw emotion to fill the theater. It was a poignant moment that resonated with the audience.
One of the most memorable scenes was the puppet ballroom dancing sequence within scene four. The precision and artistry of the puppetry were exceptional, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that drew the audience into the world of the characters. It was a unique and captivating element of the performance that added depth to the storytelling.
Act one reached its breathtaking conclusion with a flood scene that was a masterpiece of multisensory artistry. Flowing ribbons symbolized rushing water, while the sound of thunder and realistic lighting simulated lightning. The Widow’s Bane accompaniment began to accelerate, and a rain backdrop completed the immersive experience. The synchronization of these elements created a powerful and thrilling moment that left the audience in awe.
Act two was equally captivating, featuring an alligator that seemed to move like magic, igniting the audience’s imagination. This alligator was pieced together with the movements of six dancers, a testament to the performers’ skill and coordination. It was a true spectacle, and its presence added an extra layer of danger to the narrative. The dynamic between the Puppeteer and the Bruja was fascinating and unsettling, further enriching the storyline to its epic finale.
The story of Wicked Bayou, created by Clay Rose and Garrett Ammon, is based on the song ‘Old Bayou’ by Gov. Mortimer Leech, lead singer of The Widow’s Bane. It was expertly adapted for the stage by Garret Ammon, Artistic Director of Wonderbound. This tale weaves a captivating narrative of love, friendship, and the mysterious forces of the bayou. The performance featured a talented cast, each character contributing a unique dimension to the unfolding story. The dancers’ performances breathed life into their roles, creating a haunting and mesmerizing experience.
The contemporary choreography seamlessly intertwined with the live music, forming a dynamic and rich performance. Along with providing the live score, the band’s presence on stage and their interactions with the dancers not only amplified the ambiance but further leaned into the theme of puppeteering and control as the music propelled the story.
As a celebration of Wonderbound’s 10th anniversary, Wicked Bayou with The Widow’s Bane was a testament to the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional ballet. It was a perfect blend of storytelling and creative art, offering the audience a truly unforgettable adventure.
In conclusion, Wicked Bayou with The Widow’s Bane was a night to remember—the combination of contemporary ballet, live music, and an engaging narrative made for a unique
performance. Wonderbound’s dedication to artistry and ability to create a world where vulnerability and courage intersect with tradition and innovation were on full display. If you ever have the opportunity to witness their work, I wholeheartedly recommend it. The night was a journey into the unknown, and I emerged from the performance both enchanted and inspired.
Patrice Harris is a new writer for Presenting Denver. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Patrice’s passion for the arts started at a young age. She participated in various forms of art, including theater, piano, and visual art.
Patrice attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science, and Psychology. During her time at university, she continued to explore her passion for the arts by participating in various creative programs and events.
After graduation, Patrice began working as a Resident Services Coordinator at Mercy Housing, where she supported and empowered residents in need of services and resources. There she connected residents to dance with workshops from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.
In 2022, Patrice began working at WellPower, where she coordinates facility improvements and engages in community relations. In her free time, Patrice continues to write dance reviews and explore her love for the arts.