Best of 2012: Dance Studio
Martha Graham envisioned dance as a weapon, something powerful and prodigious. The great American dancer and choreographer would have found kindred spirits at Ormao Dance Company, a company that derives its name from an ancient Greek term that meant "movement with force."
Now a few years from its silver anniversary, Ormao (or-MY-oh) began when executive director Jan Johnson pulled together a troupe of dancers. "I've always said it wasn't like I planned having a modern dance company — that was not necessarily my dream," says Johnson, a Wisconsin native. "But I know I always loved dance, and I never knew how I was going to be able to incorporate it into my life."
After consulting with dancers and choreographers in the Springs and Denver, Johnson took the plunge: She started offering dance classes, and Ormao was born. With that came the concept of community collaborations, which has become Ormao's calling card: "I feel like that's really what we do best," Johnson says.
And how. Ormao works with fellow nonprofit institutions like the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center — upcoming performances will include gallery dances at October's Son of Pop Floyd Tunson retrospective, and April's multidisciplinary Family program — Imagination Celebration and the Colorado Springs Conservatory. It even works with outreach organizations like Greccio Housing, giving free hip-hop classes to the kids living in some Greccio apartments.
Within Ormao's own walls, Johnson has renters hosting such activities as stroller fitness classes for new moms. As usual, Johnson's brainstorming ways to collaborate, and now she has the room to do it; Ormao relocated to a larger space on the west side last June. "The space has really become exactly what we hoped it would be, and that is a space for the community to come in and try lots of different things."
That adds up to 100-plus dance students, 11 company dancers, a space to host art exhibits, the return of its open-mic-esque Open Stage nights, a Mathtastic! educational program, and of course, dance shows. Now that's movement with force. — Edie Adelstein