Dance has always had to cope with some rather stuffy associations: stuck-up ballerinas, tap dancers clad in top hats, esoteric interpretive dance numbers.
These are unfortunate stereotypes, considering that at Colorado College's Extraordinary Dance! Festival, it's more accurate to envision fake bomb props, suspended cheeseburgers, circus clowns and trapeze artists.
These are only some of the elements that CC faculty have previously incorporated into their three-week dance programming, highlighted this weekend at the eighth annual Gala Performance.
The festival has attracted a varied ensemble of form-pushing, international dancers, some of whom tend to be shunned within that other dance world. This year's lineup includes New York-based hip-hop performer Brian Green and a return visit from former Cirque du Soleil artists Sara Joel and Kevin Gibbs.
"It is exciting to come here and see and know that there are all kinds of dance ... dance on the floor, dance in the air," says trapeze expert and circus artist Bronwyn Sims, who teaches aerialism and "AcroYoga" at the New England Center for Circus Arts. Sims will be performing two pieces that will showcase her clowning and circus skills in the dance arena.
"[Seeing] circus combined with dance more and more ... it takes it to a different place," she says. "People are less likely to say things like, 'Wow, she can hang by her neck.'"
Also illustrating dance's capacity to be downright weird is the avant-garde duo HIJACK, made up of CC alums Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder. They specialize in "contact improvisation," a style involving constant body contact between two or more dancers, often with post-modern themes.
And yes, HIJACK's past performances have involved props like fake bombs and dangling sandwiches, giving a performance-arty twist to a form that proves dance can be edgy and highly entertaining, not to mention entirely free of tutus and sequins.