On Their Toes 

A weekend of modern dance and multi-media

click to enlarge Janet Johnson, Artistic Director of the Ormao Dance, putting her best foot forward
  • Janet Johnson, Artistic Director of the Ormao Dance, putting her best foot forward

It's a fancy time in the Springs when two -- count 'em, two -- culture-enriching, soul-enhancing, mind-expanding dance performances occur during the same weekend. While our performing arts scene has been blossoming quite nicely over the past decade or so, of all the artful performance mediums that find their way to our local stages, good dance performances are still few and far between.

This weekend, however, that phenomenon exits stage left, as two excellent, locally choreographed shows grace the stages of Armstrong Hall and the Fine Arts Center.

First on tap is Colorado College's multi-media performance entitled Floored. In the works for over three months, the evening will be presented by senior dance majors, in conjunction with performers from the drama, music and art departments. It is a compilation of choreography, original music and multi-media.

What exactly does that all mean? In laymen's terms, student choreographers and dancers Sarah Logan, Zoe Hawkins-Wells and Sarah Platt will perform modern dance pieces accompanied by original scores composed by student musicians. Incorporated into the show will be a multi-media presentation featuring film and video projections, making this not just your average modern dance performance.

As Logan points out, there is no overall theme to the show. The three pieces are separate works that stand on their own. Together, they create one show -- one cohesive, homegrown, multi-media endeavor.

The Ormao Dance Company will also stage a weekend of dance and performance art. Since its inception in 1990, the local company has earned an honorable reputation on the regional dance scene and has become synonymous with quality, eclectic, contemporary dance.

Presented as part of the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration, this latest show offers a multitude of new and refreshing choreography. Five new performance pieces will be staged along with one encore performance of an old favorite and some serious star power.

The company's artistic director, Janet Johnson, has choreographed a new piece entitled "Who Cares," featuring music by the legendary Jeff Beck. Composed of three different parts -- "Fighting the Blues," "Gimme Space" and "Mama Say What?" -- this particular dance piece moves through sultry blues and fusion guitar, into playful, fast-paced, explosive dance.

Ormao will also premiere "Voices of Choices," a piece by new choreographer Mary Ripper. Eclectic and provocative, this vibrant piece focuses on those ever-present voices in our heads; those proverbial little angels and devils which dance on our shoulders daily, guiding us through the day and the choices we do, or sometimes don't, make.

Making a special appearance as a guest dancer with Ormao for this particular series of performances is nationally ranked figure skater Ryan Jahnke. He will lend his grace and finesse to Tracy Jobin's duet, "Compromising Heat." Jobin's piece is choreographed to Angelique Kidjo's arrangement of the Gershwin classic, "Summertime," complete with an echo of world music including African-pop sounds.

The last two pieces rounding out the concert are "Choking the Flower," a witty and humorous piece by nationally recognized choreographer and lighting designer Jeff Bickford, and "A Call to Dance," a collaboration celebrating Earth Day 2000 mixing professional dancers with some of our best, homespun aspiring dancers.

Finally, back by popular demand, Ormao will repeat a work called "Occupational Hazards," a comedic dance and play highlighting the humor inherent in the many different occupations which have come to exist in our world.

Ormao's Johnson humorously sums up the flavor of the company and this show: "Our repertoire contains music and dances that even men and children will find interesting and relevant."

Whether or not you are a fan of modern dance, man, woman or child, this weekend offers a plethora of local talent that should not be missed. It appears that, finally, our blossoming dance scene has flowered.


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