Esmé Dance Company presented Kalopsia at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Performing Arts Complex to a sold-out crowd on Saturday, November 12th, the second night of their weekend run. Esmé is a local jazz and contemporary dance company founded by Veronica Burch in 2014 with the mission of “creating a home where dancers are free of judgement and where our creativity is limitless”, so states Burch in her bio, listed in the program. Kalopsia is a word of Greek descent defined by the Urban Dictionary as, “a condition wherein things appear more beautiful than they are,” it is a delusion. The show promised, a hint of circus, a splash of adventure, a truth to every story.”
Esmé Dance Company is a group of young female dancers passionate about artistry and the love for dance. Veronica Burch brought them together under the theme of Esmé, a French word meaning, to be loved, to be esteemed. The company is the place these dancers call home. It is a place for them to have love for one another and to lift themselves higher. Esmé is the resident company at Gravity Dance Collective where several of the company members take class and teach. Esmé leader, Veronica Burch, is the Artistic Director for Gravity Dance Collective, and company member Nicole Cappelletty is the founder and owner. These ladies and the rest of the dancers: Dani Worthman, Courtney Donohoe, Shannon Worthman, Mandy Barben, Katie Weeks Hays, Cassandra Weaver, Mae Jones, Gabby Ranfranz, and Daron Linton are clearly adored by their artistic communities and beyond. Dancers, friends, and family members of all ages and backgrounds came out to support these incredible women in this sold-out, mysterious show.
The cast of characters of Kalopsia included Siren-Ring Mistress, Rou-Siren’s daughter and star tightrope artist, Amandine-Siren’s daughter and acrobat, Jade-Animal Tamer, Calliope Blaze-Fire Dancer, Maude-Mime, Ezra- Siamese twin and ring dancer, Florentine-Siamese twin, Zazzle-Circus ballerina, and Aralia-Snake charmer and fortune teller. The costumes were gorgeous and colorful and set the scene beautifully. This mysteriously unique show used original skits and dialogue to guide the audience through the tumultuous life of a circus performer. Right before our eyes, the performers experienced the glamour of the spotlight as well as the backstage drama of competition, envy, and tragedy. Aralia walked us through the experience guided by the mystical cards she read to predict the future, Siren worked to hold the show and the performers together, and nobody liked Maude, the mime. Ezra wowed us with her dazzling ring act spinning 7 rings about her body at once, creating a mesmerizing light show. Rou’s character struggled with the pressure of being a star performer and tragically fell to her death at the end of the show during her tightrope act.
Other circus acts presented included a cutthroat duet to the music of Son Lux, a dance of the circus animals, a unicyclist, tappers with canes, and mimes in bright colored tights and tutus who moved to the intensity of Enter Sandman by SHEL. The dancers, clad in tight golden jumpsuits came together to form one giant snake that was tamed by a featured belly dancer. Everybody loves a circus, and everybody loved Esmé Dance Company’s Kalopsia.
The messages that Kalopsia left us with were that beauty never comes without a price and to never take each other for granted. I saw the connection between the circus life that the show created and the dance studio life that the company members live. I commend Esmé Dance Company for presenting this project of passion dedicated to the love of our art and the power of positivity.
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.