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Colorado Ballet names new building The Armstrong Center for Dance

Friday, October 24, 2014

Colorado Ballet announced today that they have named Colorado Ballet’s new building at 1075 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204 "The Armstrong Center for Dance” in honor of Liz and Bill Armstrong, long-time Colorado Ballet patrons, past trustees, and donors. The new facility for Colorado Ballet opened its doors in late August.

Colorado Ballet purchased the building on Santa Fe Drive in January 2013 and after a year and half of major renovations and a capital campaign moved from their previous home at 1278 Lincoln Street. Liz and Bill Armstrong served as the lead donors on this project.  As past trustees, it was always their dream that Colorado Ballet would have its own home.

“We are thrilled to name the new building, The Armstrong Center for Dance,” said Liz Armstrong.  “After seeing the building, knowing the years of work that went into making this dream happen, this facility is beyond what we could have imagined.  Bill and I couldn’t be happier to invest in the future of Colorado Ballet and have our name on the facility for decades to come.”

Colorado Ballet's new $6.5 million facility hosts rehearsal and training studios as well administrative offices, while performances will continue to take place primarily in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

“The Armstrong Center for Dance puts Colorado Ballet’s company on the national level and enhances the training of the next generation of dancers,” said Colorado Ballet's Artistic Director Gil Boggs.  “Bill and Liz Armstrong’s generous donation to name The Armstrong Center for Dance supports us in owning our own building for the first time in our nearly 54-year history.”

The new facility, designed by Denver-based Semple Brown Design, features eight state-of-the-art dance studios for Colorado Ballet’s professional Company and the Colorado Ballet Academy. In addition, a multi-use black box theater will function as both a dance studio and performance space equipped with theatrical lighting, sound and telescoping seats for presenting smaller performances and hosting outside groups and their events.  Improved amenities for the Company also include locker rooms, showers and a physical therapy room. The new Academy location also includes safer student drop-off and increased parking in the neighborhood for Academy families. Denver-based CMC Group, Inc. was the contractor.

A sign with “The Armstrong Center for Dance” will be added to the outside of the main entrance of the building soon.

“As a former board chair of Colorado Ballet, I’ve seen the organization transform over the years but this building is a statement to the city of Denver that the ballet is an organization that is here to stay,” said Liz Armstrong. “That is very exciting for everyone involved with Colorado Ballet and we can’t wait to see the next generation of dancers come out of The Armstrong Center for Dance.”

Photo by David Lauer

Teeth [Dracula] - Colorado Ballet

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Show us your teeth! Colorado Ballet's presents Dracula for an exclusive Halloween weekend run, Oct 31st through Nov 2nd. Sink your teeth into a bloody good time!

Directed and edited by Sean Omandam. Filmed by Francisco Estévez. Music: Lady Gaga - "Teeth"

Dracula Sneak Peek - Scenes from Arvada Performance 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Scenes from our August Arvada Center Performace of Dracula. Featuring Sharon Wehner and Dmitry Trubchanov

Dracula - Interview with Dmitry Trubchanov

Monday, October 20, 2014

Interview with Principal Dancer, Dmitry Trubchanov about dancing the part of Dracula.

Includes clips of performance from Arvada Center performance with Sharon Wehner and Dmitry Trubchanov

Becoming Dracula: An interview with Domenico Luciano

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

We wanted to know how someone prepares to dance the role of Dracula, so we interviewed Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Domenico Luciano.  He is one of the dancers who will jump into the role when Colorado Ballet presents Dracula later this month.

 

1.  How do you prepare for the role of Dracula?

I got really excited as soon as I heard that DRACULA was on the schedule for this season.  Over the summer I started doing some research on the subject.  Although, I read the book many years ago, I wanted to familiarize myself again and looked for literature, plays, movies, ballet versions, to get as much knowledge about the story, as well as the time period and the characters.  I read Stoker’s Dracula, and a few essays on the matter, I saw a few different movie versions, and I’m still on the look out for more material.

 

I have to also mention that from the first rehearsal, the Ballet Mistress Lorita Travaglia, that is staging the ballet, has already given me directions and guidance about the intentions and the meaning behind the movement.  My partner Maria Mosina, has been very helpful and generous with me, she has danced the role of Mina Harker several times, and with many different partners, so she is able to help me out with both technical and artistic advice.

  

I believe that for approaching a role like the one of Dracula, a deep artistic preparation is required to have as many tools as possible, and have many options on how to deliver the character to your partner and for the audience. 

 

2.  Is Dracula the hero or the villain of the ballet?

After all the reading that I did for the past couple of months, I have to say that Dracula’s figure is very complex.  Stoker, the author of the original novel, uses Dracula as a vehicle to shine light on the strengths and weaknesses of the human kind.  One of the interesting messages in the Dracula tale is the comment about the human emotions suppressed.  The way I see it, Dracula does not manipulate behavior or emotions, such as lust, aggression or fear, he simply brings out what already exists within the characters and invites them to be as they are naturally, free from any restraints. 

  

Another interesting debate Stoker presents in the novel is the question of who is the monster and who is the man? The men in the story become savage-like as they decapitate Lucy and drive a stake through her heart. 

He is also offering never-ending life, the fountain of youth in a way, a quest that the human species is repeatedly on. So, I am considering all of these facets that are presented in the novel as I build my interpretation of the character.

  

3.  Why should people come see Dracula?

I think this version of DRACULA has an amazing theatrical power.  I believe the audience it is going to have a rich and fulfilling experience through the combination of the dramatic musical score and strong and raw emotions from the artists.

 

For more information about Colorado Ballet's upcoming production of Draculaclick here.

Artists of Colorado Ballet in "Dracula" by Terry Shapiro

Getting to know the new dancers: Emily Dixon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

1. Where are you from? I was born in Lubbock, TX but I grew up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in a city called Colleyville, Texas.

2. Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet? I received my early training at the Ballet Academy of Texas under the direction of Lisa Slagle, Tom Nicholson and Jenny Johnston. After graduating high school, I joined Tulsa Ballet II where I stayed for two seasons. Next, I moved to Sarasota, Florida to dance with Sarasota Ballet under the direction of Iain Webb. I performed with the Sarasota Ballet for five seasons until I moved here to Denver to join the Colorado Ballet.

3. What did you do with your summer break? The word that comes to my mind when I think about my summer break is "transition." I spent the summer at home in Texas with my family as I prepared to make the big move to Denver. It's a heavy thing to leave a place that you've lived in for five years. I have so many wonderful friends and memories of my time in Florida, so it was both exciting and difficult to leave. It was great to spend time in Texas to mentally transition and gear up for the next chapter in my life. There's something about home that reminds you of who you are, and I believe that before a big life change it's important to remember that. I was poured into by many close friends and my parents which I'm incredibly grateful for! Aside from preparing for the move, I kept myself in shape by taking ballet and yoga classes every day. I also taught ballet to little ones quite a bit- that's always fun!

4. What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class? I took my first ballet class when I was five years old. I wish I remembered it, but I don't. My mom tells me that she first took me to a gymnastics class, and I insisted that I wear a tutu to that class. I did! The gymnastics teacher came out after and told my mom to put me in ballet!

5. Who are your ballet role models? Dancers that inspire you. Kelly Yankle. I met and danced alongside of Kelly in Sarasota. She taught me so much. Not only is Kelly a beautiful dancer, but she's a beautiful person. Kelly took me under her wing, so to say, and coached me from the inside out. She immediately recognized my battle with fear and made it her goal to battle alongside with me. Kelly constantly reminded me to be bold and to not apologize for who I am no matter what. I saw that fearlessness in her dancing, and it's something I want to be someday. I strive to be the bold and tenacious, yet gracious dancer and person that Kelly embodies. 

6. Proudest moment in your ballet career? Goodness, that's a hard one! I just think of many times that I've been overwhelmed with gratitude over the opportunity that I've been given to do what I love. I remember coming off stage after performing a pas de deux choreographed by Sarasota Ballet Soloist Alex Harrison called The Blue Hour, in which I was partnered by Ian Tanzer. We had one shot at this difficult pas de deux, and we did it. We had the most beautiful and emotional time on stage, and we both left feeling so grateful for that chance! Another proud moment was after performing Ashton's Monotones II with Juan Gil and Daniel Pratt. That ballet is all about partnership and teamwork between the three dancers, and when you do it, you feel such a sense of gratitude for your partners...and their patience haha!!

7. Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher? I'm going to twist this one a bit and use a teacher, but not a ballet teacher- my father. I admit that I struggle with intimidation a lot in the studio. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a flashy technician. I'm not the strongest, but I love to dance. I love to perform. I want to tell a story, my story, and it's my aim in this profession to convey a message to the audience and leave them wanting more of the story. That being said, my dad (who knows me well, right?) told me this one time, and it's stuck with me ever since...it was before a performance. He said, "Em, don't dance to not mess up. Dance to give your gift to the audience. If you dance in fear, you are withholding and hiding. Give yourself freely and confidently. Don't withhold. Give." My heart is full of a story that I want to share with the audience, and I'm continually learning to give and to not withhold. We've been entrusted with a gift- and everyone's gift is different- but it's a shame to hide that gift just because you're afraid of being rejected or of failing. Thanks, Dad :)

8. Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch? Three ballets immediately came to my mind, and they're all made by George Balanchine : Who Cares?, Diamonds,  and Serenade. I found such freedom in performing all three of these ballets. I was one of the 5 girls in Who Cares? and I had SO much fun. The 5 girls part is incredibly hard, but it was a joy to dance because the movement was cute and playful, and who doesn't love a good Gershwin score?!? Diamonds holds a very special place in my heart because while we were learning and performing this ballet, I really came to know who I am. We live environment that can easily steal our identity as women and point out all of our flaws, and Diamonds reminded me of my worth. Despite my imperfections, I'm a priceless and rare creation of God- like a diamond. I was challenged to remember that. Last, Serenade. I've yet to meet a girl who doesn't love this ballet! The music alone is enough to make one cry. I found my own personal story in the four movements of Serenade,  so performing it felt like I was out there giving a testimony through my way of speaking- dancing. 

9. Dream role? Definitely Juliet Capulet. I love to act, and her role is so raw with emotion.

10. What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)? Well, there's lots of things I enjoy doing. I really enjoy taking yoga classes after work every day. I also love spending time alone digging into the Bible. I'm a believer in Jesus Christ, and I love learning more and more about biblical history and diving into the text. So I'm a bit of a book nerd in that sense! I also have some dear friends that live here in the Denver area, and I love spending time with them when I can. I'm always one for a good heart to heart conversation- I'm fueled by those deep friendships! I'm also a big shopper, so I try to keep myself out of the stores :)

11. What are some of your indulgences? Oh dear, this is a dangerous question! The earlier question about free time brought up my love of shopping. When it comes to shopping indulgences, I'll admit that I'm a Lululemon addict. When it comes to food, everyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE peanut butter. If you give me a jar of peanut butter, I'll gladly indulge :)

12. Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals? I gain my inspiration and confidence from my faith in Jesus Christ. Before a show, I will usually spend some time in the Bible getting strength from His promises. You can find me with my ipod in and turned up with a playlist of encouraging music to get my heart and head in the right place. Then, you can usually find me taking in a spoonful of peanut butter before hitting the stage :) 

13. What production(s) are you most excited about this year? Considering that my favorite ballets are all Balanchine, I'm excited about Concerto Barocco. Concerto is definitely different that the three ballets that I mentioned earlier, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I've never performed a Balanchine ballet that I didn't fall in love with and many of them have pushed me outside of my comfort zone.

Colorado Ballet presents spine-tingling Dracula during Halloween weekend

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Colorado Ballet will present Dracula, October 31-November 2, 2014 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.  Dracula features choreography by Michael Pink and music by Philip Feeney, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.

 

“Come sink your teeth into this spine-tingling ballet full of seductive vampires, frightening mental patients and the king of the undead himself, Count Dracula,” said Gil Boggs, Colorado Ballet Artistic Director.  “Our audience requests this production over and over again and we cannot wait to perform Dracula during Halloween weekend this year.  This is one of the most popular ballets we perform and because it is for one weekend only, we are expecting full houses for every performance.”

 

Based on Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror, Dracula contains mature content and is not recommended for children ages 13 or younger.

  

“Our production of Dracula is big, with grand sets including a train station, grand hotel, sanatorium, a terrifying underground vault and of course, Count Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania,” said Boggs.  “Audiences will feel like they are part of the action, as if any moment Count Dracula could sneak up behind them in the theater.  People who love the book or any of the other adaptations of this horror classic will love Colorado Ballet’s performance because the story is easy to follow and the dancing and music enhance the passion and terror of this deliciously macabre ballet.”

 

Performance Dates and Times:

Friday, October 31, 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 1, 2014 @ 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 1, 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 2, 2014 @ 2 p.m.

 

Ticket prices range from $25 to $155. To purchase tickets, visit www.coloradoballet.org or call 303-837-8888 ext. 2.  Dracula is presented by PwC.

 

Colorado Ballet will also host several special events around Dracula including a costume party after the performance on Halloween night and a Bloody Mary Brunch for the Center Stage Young Patrons group before the November 2 performance.  For more information on either of these events, visit www.coloradoballet.org/events.

Artists of Colorado Ballet in "Dracula" by Terry Shapiro

Getting to know the new dancers: Emily Speed

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We sent out a questionnaire to our new dancers to get to know them a little better.  

Here is the response from one of our new Corps de Ballet dancers, Emily Speed:


1.  Where are you from?

The Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area


2.  Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet?

I have danced with several different companies including Alabama Ballet, Ballet Tucson and Boulder Ballet. Before graduating, I trained with Marina Almayeva.


3.  What did you do with your summer break?

My husband and I were married and he moved here to Denver. I also went with Kevin Wilson to Jackson, MS and competed in the USA international ballet competition there. We performed a classical pas de deux and a contemporary duet.


4.  What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class?

My first dance class I was only 3 years old but didn't start my classical training until much later. I just remember I always loved dancing and performing.


 

5.  What was your first ballet you remember attending?

It was a gala, but I remember they performed "Le Spectre de la Rose."


6.  Who are your ballet role models? Dancers that inspire you.

I love watching Natalia Osipova because she is such an amazing technician and isn't necessarily what you first think of when you think of a ballet dancer.


7.  Proudest moment in your ballet career?

It is hard to pinpoint one, but I am really proud to be where I am right now and it was a culmination of many events that has made me the dancer I am today.


8.  Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

Amanda McKerrow has always told me to just "stay present" on stage. It seems simple but for me it is always a good reminder to not think about what's already happened or what will and to truly focus on the role no matter how big or small.


9.  Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch?

Don Quixote has so much life and is always fun to perform  and I also loved performing Serenade. I love watching all the classics but especially GiselleSwan Lake and La Bayadere.


10.  Dream role?

Medora in Le Corsaire or Kitri in Don Quixote


11.  What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I really enjoy spending time with my family and husband. I love yoga, cooking, and traveling.


12.  What are some of your indulgences?

Chocolate :)


13.  Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals?

I get really chatty when I'm nervous or excited for a show but I like to have my hair done first and wait to finish my makeup until just before curtain. Depending on the part, I check certain sections from the piece on stage. If I do it well once I leave it there but I have to do it well once. I also like to say a quick prayer thanking God for the opportunity to do what I love.


14.  What production(s) are you most excited about this year?

George Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco"!!!!!


15.  What would you say to people who come to see the Colorado Ballet?

Denver is such a wonderful place with so many great things to do but there is something really special about participating in the arts. Thank you for watching and sharing in a wonderful part of this community.

Colorado Children’s Chorale to perform with Colorado Ballet in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Colorado Ballet's upcoming season opener of A Midsummer Night's Dream will feature music by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra and the Colorado Children's Chorale.  The production will run from September 26-October 5 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

 

About the Colorado Children's Chorale

Since 1974, the Colorado Children’s Chorale has brought its artistry and charm to audiences throughout the world. With a diverse repertoire ranging from fully staged opera and musical theater to standard choral compositions in classical, folk and popular traditions, the Chorale performs with an innovative stage presentation and a unique theatrical spirit.

 

The Colorado Children's Chorale annually trains 500 members between the ages of 7 and 14 from all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds representing more than 180 schools in the Denver metro area and beyond. Since its founding in 1974, the Chorale has sung countless performances with some of the world’s finest performing arts organizations, performed for numerous dignitaries, and appeared in several television and radio broadcasts.

 

For more information on the Colorado Children's Chorale, visit www.childrenschorale.org.

Colorado Children's Chorale

Colorado Children's Chorale

For more information about A Midsummer Night's Dreamplease click here.

About the choreographer of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Friday, September 05, 2014

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is a familiar name in the ballet world and Colorado Ballet will showcase his choreography in its upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream September 26-October 5 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.  Wheeldon originally set A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Colorado Ballet in 1997.

 

This fanciful production features also features a score by Felix Mendelssohn, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra and the Colorado Children’s Chorale.

 

Read more about the choreographer:

Christopher Wheeldon joined New York City Ballet in 1993 and was promoted to Soloist in 1998.  He served as NYCB’s first-ever Artist in Residence in 2000/01 and was named NYCB’s first Resident Choreographer in July 2001. Since then he has choreographed at least one ballet a year for NYCB. Outside the ballet world, he choreographed Dance of the Hours for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (2006), as well as ballet sequences for the feature film Center Stage (2000) and Sweet Smell of Success on Broadway (2002). In 2007, Wheeldon founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company. In 2009, Wheeldon worked with Richard Eyre on a production of the opera Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera House and in 2010 his new version of The Sleeping Beauty had its premiere with The Royal Danish Ballet. His new full-length ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was created for The Royal Ballet and given its premiere at the Royal Opera House on February 28, 2011. Thirteen Diversions (created for American Ballet Theatre 2011) and Les Carrillons world premiere formed an all Wheeldon evening at the NYCB in January 2012. In 2014, he is creating a full length version of A Winters Tale for the Royal Ballet and directing and choreographing a musical version of An American In Paris, which will premiere in Paris at the Chatelet Theatre.  His awards include the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center, the American Choreography Award, a Dance Magazine Award, the London Critic’s Circle Award for best new ballet for Polyphonia, two time Olivier award winner most recently for Aeternum choreographed in January 2013 for the Royal Ballet. Mr. Wheeldon’s recent production of Cinderella won the 2013 Benois De La Danse.

  

Click here for more information about Colorado Ballet's upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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