July 12, 2024

Styles Of Dance

Dance Styles Unite in Harmony

DanceAspen hosts 3rd annual Gala, Old Hollywood style

3 min read
DanceAspen’s annual gala returns on July 12.
DanceAspen/Courtesy photo

DanceAspen’s 3rd Annual Gala revolves around the golden era of Hollywood, blending classic Hollywood elegance with contemporary dance. So, gentlemen, don your sleek suit, tuxedo, or fedora, and ladies, slip into a glamourous evening gown.

This year’s theme partially emerged from Gail Weinglass’ love of Old Hollywood; DanceAspen is honoring Gail and Boogie Weinglass for all of their support backing the relatively new company.

“The company has grown exponentially in the last three years. Our programming has continued to get better,” Kaya Wolsey, DanceAspen director of operations, said, pointing to everything from costumes to lighting design. “Every year, we bring in new choreographers. We have been able to put a stamp on our identity, which has drawn choreographers from around the world to want to work with the company.”

This summer, it’s offering more performances, from the District Theater to TACAW, the latter of which the company will bring its talent to for the first time.

Last January, it rolled out its DanceStart Initiative. The outreach program aims to foster a deeper appreciation for dance — and all arts — among grade-school students by showcasing various styles of dance at schools and talking about their day-to-day lives as dancers. The artists encourage students to ask questions and express themselves through movement. The dancers envision extending the outreach to Rifle and beyond, she said.

“Hopefully, we’re creating a platform for them to love the arts as students into adulthood and understand the importance of the arts,” she said. “The money we raise at the gala allows for expansion and sharing.”

A year ago, the company began offering regularly scheduled adult ballet. It has expanded the program to include more styles, such as hip-hop, and contemporary dance classes for beginners to intermediates and beyond. DanceAspen also offers master class series, which take place over several days or weeks and range from dance technique to repertory, composition, improvisation, and more. It launches its Youth Master classes in ballet and contemporary for kids 9 and older on Aug. 10.

Since the first gala in 2021, DanceAspen has been able to support its artists, all of whom work full-time in the studio. Its 2022 gala allowed the company to extend the dancers’ contracts, create more works, and extend its season and outreach program.

“It’s important that we prioritize our artists so that they can live and work in the valley,” she said.

Brief performances by DanceAspen at this year’s gala include a sneak peek of one of the three premieres the company will showcase in August at the District Theater or in September at TACAW. During those performances, DanceAspen will premiere works from choreographers Laura O’Malley, Penny Saunders, and Jamar Roberts. The TACAW show will include “Animal,” a piece Noelle Kayser choreographed.

Additionally, three of the dancers — Wolsey, Jonah Delgado, and Sammy Altenau — are choreographing pieces for the gala. Altenau ushers in Old Hollywood with a contemporary restaging of “Singing in the Rain.” Wolsey is putting together a duet for Meredith Harrill and Jonah Delgado to “My Prayer” by The Platters, a piece of music she has wanted to work with for a few years. In fact, she has much more in mind — in the form of a 30-or-so minute ballet, but for now, she’s depicting a playful give-and-take between the pair.

“The music feels really romantic,” she said. “Meredith plays the instigator of going for something bigger and better. There’s a lot of deep connection between the dancers as they navigate moving forward in life.”

Of course, a DanceAspen gala wouldn’t be complete without the Aspen Bandstand Competition, which returns this year. Couples take center stage and show off their best moves for a trophy and the title of Aspen Bandstand Champion.

It’s all in good fun, but as Wolsey good-naturedly says, “You’d be surprised by how much some people will fight on the dance floor for bragging rights.”

Guests can also join the flash mob, and if they want, they can prepare the Wednesday before the gala at a pre-party, complete with light snacks and wine. Or, they can study the steps — designed for all abilities — through a video sent via email. During the gala, DJ Naka G will spin tunes for anyone — bold or shy — to hit the dance floor. As DanceAspen’s website states:

“It’s an evening of glamor, nostalgia, and fierce competition you won’t want to miss,” she said.


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