Denver-based Wonderbound gets campy for ‘Gone West’


Denver-based dance troupe Wonderbound, formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado, doesn’t shy away from exploring different medians of art. Artistic director Garrett Ammon often speaks of his inclination to explore where different artistic disciplines intersect. And, with past productions like “Carry On,” “Intersection,” and “A Gothic Folktale,” the list of Wonderbound collaborators is long and diverse.

For the company’s season closer, “Gone West,” Ammon and his kindle of Wonderbound dancers teamed up with local musician, singer/songwriter Ian Cooke and Michael J. Henry, a poet and the executive director of Lighthouse Writers Workshop — original costumes were designed and built by Rachel Kras, wardrobe supervisor and costume designer at Wonderbound.

As a guest for Wonderbound’s recent “Gone West” teaser, held at the company’s downtown Denver headquarters known as Junction Box on March 19, I got a sneak peek of what to expect for the two-week run in early April.

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Wonderbound: Beyond Dance


For the final performance of Wonderbound’s 2013-2014 season, artistic director Garrett Ammon and Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop executive director Michael J. Henry collaborate for the third time to produce “Gone West”—a cross between Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and a KOA campground.

Sound like an unusual concept for a ballet? It sure is. But with these two creative talents at the helm, expect only the extraordinary.

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Photos: Wonderbound’s Hare Ball


Wonderbound, the dance company formerly known as Ballet Nouveau Colorado, hosted its first Hare Ball — and for anyone wondering how that name was chosen, it’s because Wonderbound’s logo is a bunny rabbit. There was a through-the-looking-glass theme, and the added attraction of “no auctions, no special appeal … no kidding! Leave your checkbooks at home!” In addition to dinner, the evening paid tribute to Susan France, former director of programming at the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. There also was a 360-degree projection mapped experience made possible by the immensely talented Kristopher Collins and a performance by Wonderbound dancers. The event was held at Junction Box, which is where Wonderbound is headquartered.

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Library Spotlight: The Most of It


We interrupt our regular library spotlight for a quick pas de deux: a minute (and two seconds) that gives voice to movement and movement to voice.

In The Most of It, dancers Amanda Copple and Brandon Freeman use rhythm, phrasing, emphasis and texture to create a dance… for ears only.

The Most of It was commissioned by Colorado Public Radio’s brand new arts bureau, as part of their ongoing experiment in translating dance to the radio. What does Ira Glass have to do with it? And how did the Wonderbound dancers approach this challenge? Find out.

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Wonderbound to Premiere ‘Gone West’


This April, Wonderbound invites audiences to experience a brand new creation that is best described as a cross between Shakespeare’s The Tempest and a KOA campground. A collaborative work featuring the choreography of Garrett Ammon, music of Ian Cooke and poetry of Michael J. Henry, this world premiere work, entitled Gone West, will close Wonderbound’s 2013-14 season.

“Each time I have worked with Michael J. Henry, he has pushed me to new and unexpected places. Gone West is no exception. Mike has brought a collection of beautifully flawed humans to life in these new poems,” said Ammon. “Having Ian Cooke and his band join us on this adventure is adding an entirely new dimension. Ian’s music is as layered as Mike’s characters, creating a richness and depth that is utterly inspiring. It is a privilege to work with such dedicated and honest artists.”

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Can dance work on the radio? Ira Glass weighs in


On the inaugural episode of CPR’s new arts show tomorrow, Ira Glass, the host of “This American Life,” comments on a new project mounted by CPR’s Arts Bureau to find out how dance — a predominantly visual medium — might carry on the aural medium of radio.

Glass is in a prime position to offer thoughts on CPR’s “Radio Dances” project as he recently toured the country with dance-makers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass in a live stage show in which the radio personality and his collaborators told stories with words and movement.

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