By Raleigh Burleigh
Sopris Sun Editor
The pandemic saw the whole world turned inside out. In terms of performance arts like dance, this happened quite literally with companies taking their work outdoors to keep audiences safe. Now, with the outside turning in again, “OUTSIDE/IN” chooses to meld the best of both worlds for a unique experience of place-based movement.
On the heels of last summer’s outdoors production of “SHOES”, Aspen Dance Connection is partnering with IMPACT Dance (www.impactdancecompany.com) to present a site-specific performance using both the outdoor stage and indoor theater at The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW).
“It’s so different for a dancer to be dancing on raw earth and uneven ground,” Fran Page, executive director of Aspen Dance Connection, told The Sopris Sun. “Dancers learn to adapt their feet to receiving the earth, and also the wind affects the way they move … all the elements come into the situation.” She assured us that there’s a back-up plan in case of rain, but is optimistic that won’t be necessary.
Once inside the theater, the show will make full use of TACAW’s state-of-the-art lights, bathing the dancers in color and multimedia projections. As a site-specific production, the show seeks to push the boundaries at TACAW, a venue that Page considers perfect for the work. “When dance comes into a space it just changes it,” she added. “It really adds community.”
Between the indoor and outdoor portions, excerpts from IMPACT Dance films will be screened in the lobby that separates the two spaces, maintaining artistic continuity.
IMPACT Dance is a contemporary dance and theater company founded by Judy Bejarano that celebrated its 25th anniversary just before COVID-19 shut everything down in 2020. Bejarano, 2020 recipient of the “Legends of Dance Colorado” award and a dance instructor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, will bring five dancers from the company to stay several nights in the Roaring Fork Valley for this performance.
“OUTSIDE/IN” incorporates elements from “HUMANESQUE”, a show produced in response to the hardships of the pandemic. Bejarano has marveled to see the art gather new layers of meaning over time. For example, a poem about a sunflower took on new meaning with the eruption of war in Ukraine. Moreover, a piece that talks about choice has become increasingly poignant.
In addition to the main production at TACAW, and in keeping with the character of Aspen Dance Connection, there will also be three free performances at Garfield County libraries on Thursday, July 14. “Our purpose is to nurture and inspire choreographers, to support and challenge them to be true to their own authentic talents and expressions,” said Page. This is accomplished, in part, with extensive outreach programs taking dance to schools and libraries from Parachute to Aspen.
The first two library performances will occur indoors: at New Castle Library at 10 a.m. and Silt Library at 1 p.m. Then, in the evening’s cool, there will be an outdoor show at the Carbondale Library at 6 p.m.
The library shows are intended to be a little more interactive and multi-age friendly, said Bejarano. The location of an IMPACT Dance show changes “even how we approach some of the same exact work.” She added, “We make those subtle shifts that professional performers can do to really make it feel accessible to the audiences we’re presenting to.”
“The whole thing about going inside — multimedia, projection, technology — we just can’t mirror that in the library,” said Page. The library shows, therefore, will be more like appetizers, presenting a taste of the full work on display at TACAW on Saturday, July 16 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are at www.tacaw.org