Fall Preview – Gotta Dance!
By Marc Shulgold
Whether in spacious ballrooms, crowded nightclubs or in the privacy of our living rooms, we love to move in time to music. We also like to watch trained dancers set their lithe bodies in motion. With fall approaching, our local companies are limbering up for another season of performances. It’s also worth knowing that many of them visit our schools to encourage folks of all ages to get up and dance!
Hannah Kahn Dance
There’s no way around it – dancers age, just like the rest of us. “I can’t believe it, but I’m turning 65 this year,” Hannah Kahn remarked with a laugh. “My creative process has slowed down.”
After 40 years of creating works for her company, the dance-maker has been lately dipping into her large repertorial bag in assembling concert material. Her company’s season-opener in late November, for example, includes two movements from a work created back in 1980 (Crest), one from 1994 ((R)evolve) and one from 1996 (Dusk). But she’s not just about oldies-but-goodies.
“There will be one new work,” Kahn promised, adding, “That’s all my body can handle.” Though she’s not above sitting down while rehearsing her dancers, she said she prefers to demonstrate the movements herself. “The thing that’s always interested me is the physicality. And if I can’t do it, they can’t really get it.”
The new work, as yet untitled, will use music by New York composer Todd Reynolds. The performances, held in Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts, bear the name “Apples and Oranges and Other Dances” – the fruit reference referring to a work revived from last year.
“I like to do that,” she said of re-staging Apples and Oranges. “I enjoy giving one of my recent pieces another chance.” Don’t expect a complete make-over, Kahn cautioned. “It’s evolved, but it hasn’t changed.”
After the November shows, Kahn’s troupe won’t return to the public stage until the spring – which doesn’t mean they’ll be idle. Far from it. “Last year, we did 25 or 30 school shows, using funding from the SCFD and some from the Denver Foundation,” she said. “The kids really enjoy it – and so do we.”
Hannah Kahn Dance will present “Apples and Oranges and Other Dances” on Nov. 21 and 22. Both performances begin at 7:30 in the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. Information: (303) 444-7328 or thedairy.org.
The initials “cm” in cmDance stand for community-minded. And community-minded dance is exactly what Caryn Carbonaro-Carrasco was aiming for when she founded the program in 1999.
“I’ve been a dancer all my life,” she said. “My parents met at a dance. I’ve always social-danced.” Settling in Denver from Chicago, where she had taught at a Fred Astaire studio, Carrasco created cmDance with one goal in mind: “I wanted to bring the social dance world to Denver, by bringing dance experts here.”
Since establishing cmDance as a non-profit in 2006, she’s done just that, hiring nationally recognized instructors and setting up classes along the Front Range, to get locals of all ages and stripes out on the dance floor. At first, she covered all the expenses out of her own pocket, finally securing SCFD funding in 2008.
Carrasco and her team of a half-dozen instructors began working with Denver and Arapahoe County high school students, who had already discovered the joys of swing dance in the late ’90s. Then, in 2010, she was approached by the City of Denver, and asked to create a pre-school program. YouTube videos of her work with the little ones, viewable on cmDance’s Web site, reveal the pleasures shared by the visiting teachers and their energetic students.
“Dancing plants the seed,” she observed. “It shows you what you can do with your body – how to be creative, how to improvise. At the same time, we’re exposing them to music they may not be familiar with.”
Recently, Carrasco brought in a folkloric troupe from Chile (the Chilean government helped underwrite the cost), introducing school children to the sights and sounds of world dance, with hopes of importing other folkloric ensembles every other year.
Teaching may dominate her company’s dance card, but there are also public performances, just not the sort you’d expect. Certainly not what travelers at DIA expected on Nov. 22, 2011, when a contingent of 100 carefully rehearsed cmDance student-and-faculty swing dancers formed a flash mob and began shimmying like their sister Kate, much to the delight of those airport visitors lucky enough to be in attendance – not to mention the 3.8 million who’ve since viewed the YouTube video. It put Carrasco’s company on the map, and led to appearances in Vail and elsewhere. Don’t be surprised if her gang pops up in other unlikely places, such as a Rockies baseball game or a downtown Denver park. If you happen to be there, try not smiling – we dare you.
For information about cmDance and its group classes at the Denver Turnverein and the Auraria Campus, visit cmdance.org or call (303) 883-6691
A Sampling of Other Dance Company Events:
Nutcracker, December 14-21, 2014, Lakewood Cultural Center
Coppelia, March 21 and 22, 2015, Lakewood Cultural Center and the Pace Center
Van Gogh, May 1 and 2, 2015, Lakewood Cultural Cente
Nov. 7-8: The company performs Wanderer, a dance/theater presentation, offered as part of Veterans Speak, a weekend observance of Veterans Day at Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts. Information: (303) 440-7826, or 3rdlaw.org