Ballet Nouveau Colorado

I’ve danced my entire life, and I’ve seen dance all over the country. So when I bring a friend to a performance who has seen very little dance, or is not familiar with the company, I’m in for a treat. I can break away from my critical viewpoint and see the art through their eyes. I can sneak peaks of what their reaction is and see what’s touched them, what movements made them hold their breath, what music stirred their soul.

And so it was watching Ballet Nouveau Colorado‘s Love in the Digital Age this past weekend. I was able to let go, become absorbed in the dance even more than usual (although BNC makes this easy) – because the friend that I brought has no dance experience, isn’t concerned with sickled feet or turn out, and was ready to watch this performance with open eyes and heart.

BNC is a small troupe with a big, mushy heart. You can see it in their movements – they love what they do. I could feel the energy pulsating through the air and straight through my winter coat and into my skeptical-of-this-whole-love-thing heart. It’s raw and it’s a little scary, especially with a topic as daunting as love.

The pieces ranged from exploring the passion of love – the excitement and the beauty of finding a kindred spirit, to the playfulness that having a mate can bring. There were also hilarious bits – including a vintage public service announcement on venereal disease which had the audience rolling – and of course parts that made you just want to throw your hands up, start bawling and say, “Ok, fine, you win.” Garrett Ammon is a master at tugging on the heart strings, after all.

I am not sure what insanity is in the man’s head but Denver is lucky to have such an artist walking about sharing his gifts. He mixed dancers that are classically trained and have mastered contemporary ballet with visuals that absolutely delighted the senses, and incredible underground music.  Collaborating with guest artist Kristopher Collins was brilliant. Collins is a programmer and has won numerous awards with regard to visual art. Sometimes there was old black and white footage playing on the back drop. Other times there were flashes of words strung together in no particular order. And then there was one of my personal favorites, electronic beats blasting out, “I have this fuzzy image of a girl who’s slightly older playing coin up space invaders in jeans and purple sweaters,” while vintage video game imagery in neon colors flashed on the screen. (The song is Tin Hearts by British band The Family Simpson).

It’s honestly hard to describe BNC – their style, their flavor, what to expect when you see them perform. I would have to say that they extend beyond dancers; they are flat out artists. They are incredible when performing a pas de deux in pairs, or as a company in perfect precision. They come in all shapes and sizes and there are no rankings amongst the dancers. They are disgustingly perfect and somehow both ethereal and absolutely raw.

The ballet wrapped up with a piece called Touch. This featured a series of images flashed rapidly across the screen – imitating the assembly of thoughts of the human brain in a split second – while Maya Solovey cooed over the speaker in a haunting, calm voice. Solovey’s song is indescribable. It began and ended with a heartbeat rhythm and culminated with a giant clap of thunder – which is what BNC brilliantly chose to end the performance with. As lightning flashed both in the song and onstage, two dancers touched hands to the words, “And when the wold seems too much, remember that two souls can touch.”

A written description would never do this piece or BNC as a company justice. And the friend I brought to the performance? She was brought to tears. The audience provided a standing ovation, and everyone left feeling a little lighter, incredibly inspired, and probably a little shocked at their reactions. BNC is, after all, a company that has been nationally recognized, yet still manages to be one of the most under-rated things about Colorado next to $2 Sancho’s breakfast burritos. They are that good – yes, just as good as Colorado Ballet.

Love in the Digital Age may be over, but there’s always Rock Ballets running April 13-15. This show will sell out, so I’d advise grabbing tickets to see dance to – you guessed it – rock n’ roll, soon. The likes of Queen, David Bowie, and other artists of the genre will highlight this performance.

Check out something, anything, that BNC does this coming year. It’s worth every penny, every second, every untouched nerve.

About The Author

Erica Prather writes about dance in the Denver area. She has been published in Travel Trade Magazine, The Wichita Eagle, The Denver Post, and Redbook Magazine. She studies biology at Metro State, is active in the Denver yoga community, and can bake one kick ass rainbow cake

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