Amid the turmoil and tragedy of Marie, our most recent production, audiences were treated to a much lighter tale of deception, greed and power-hungry shenanigans through the silent film,”The Affair of the Necklace.”
Though Wonderbound’s regular season ended in April, things didn’t slow down much as we marched on toward summer.
2014-15 Season Photo Shoot – On May 16, we had the pleasure of spending the day at Junction Box with Kristen Hatgi and Mark Sink. These two remarkable photographers are longtime Wonderbound collaborators and have been shooting our promotional images since 2011.
We always have fun exploring new possibilities with Kristen and Mark while leaving the door open for serendipity. This year, our image for our new holiday production called Winter was actually the first test shot Kristen snapped while the dancers were waiting in the space.
Ladies Kindle – The following week we hosted our first “Ladies Kindle” where we hosted fifteen invested community members to Junction Box to learn more about Wonderbound over a delicious lunch provided by our good friends at Fuel Cafe. During the gathering they had the opportunity to watch rehearsal for a work created by Company Artist Sarah Tallman that was to be presented the following day at RedLine.
RedLine’s Epic Gala – May 22 was a special day for our neighbors and longtime collaborators at RedLine. Their first ever “Epic Gala” was a major fundraiser and celebration in honor of founder Laura Merage. Sarah and Laura had collaborated together on a work in 2010 that featured a collection of Laura’s photography, so Sarah put together a short piece of choreography to surprise Laura at the event.
Sonny Lawson Park Grand Re-opening – In July of 2013, the ball field at Sonny Lawson Park reopened to the community after a complete overhaul. Almost ten months later, the next step in revitalizing this historic park came to fruition. On May 31, the Wonderbound Hares joined Curtis Park Neighbors, Better Block Five Points, Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, Montessori Academy of Colorado, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Mile High United Way and other community members to christen the park’s new playground, fitness equipment, basketball court, flowerbeds and other improvements.
Since re-opening, the park now features the Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace each Saturday thru October 11, regularly occurring Plein Air Art Workshops by RedLine through September 13th and weekly Violin Concerts by Philip Ficsor.
Rated “R” On Stage – In preparation for a production of Dead Man Walking during its 2014 Summer Festival, Central City Opera organized “Rated ‘R’ On Stage” a “community panel on sex, violence and nudity in the performing arts” at Curious Theatre Company. I was honored to join Karen Federing and Michael Mayes from Central City Opera, Chip Walton and Karen Slack from Curious Theatre Company, Selene Karavites-Valdez from Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret and moderator Chris Parente from FOX31 TV for the lively discussion.
Art Vault Fundraiser – For the second year in a row Wonderbound supporters Peter and Marian Taylor, and Jim Taylor and Julie Engle generously opened their Art Vault for a fundraiser benefiting Wonderbound. Over 70 people joined us for the evening on June 5, which included live music by Ian Cooke Band, dancing by the Wonderbound artists and tours of the Taylor art collection.
My wife and Producing Director Dawn Fay and I went on to share Wonderbound’s story and focused in on Project Generations, which brings dance to our elders living in assisted living facilities in the Denver area before sharing a new video about the program. Read a story about the program by Stephanie E. Richards: Dandizette Magazine – Project Generations: How Will You Dance?
As a special thank you, each donor that evening received a ceramic Wonderbound Hare created by Denver artist Fredrick Doerpholz.
Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado Residency – From June 10-14, Wonderbound held a residency at Junction Box with Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado (BCOC) to generate ideas, concepts and movement for its collaborative production of Marie, which will be presented in February.
Sketches of Marie – On the last day of the residency we presented “Sketches of Marie,” a collaborative salon at Junction Box. The sold-out crowd enjoyed amuse-bouche and libations while we shared the exploratory excerpts we had created during the week interspersed with discussions about the production, the creative process, early music and ballet traditions as well as historical context provided by University of Colorado Department of History Professor Celine Dauverd.
School of the Poetic City Visit – Students from the School of the Poetic City urban art camp came to visit Wonderbound during rehearsals for Memories. The school’s summer camps “promote the having of wonderful ideas through contemporary art practices, exploration of the city, and art making.”
Memories at the Arvada Center – The following weekend on June 20, Wonderbound presented its annual performance at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities Outdoor Amphitheater. The evening began with the Denver premiere of “Odessa,” set to an original score by Israeli-American composer and regular Wonderbound collaborator Ofer Ben-Amots performed by Colorado College musicians Susan Grace, Jerilyn Jorgensen and Jeffrey Watson. The second half was “Memories and Well Grounded Hopes” with nouveau klezmer band Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe. It was a pleasure to revisit these special works and share them with an enthusiastic crowd in the open air at the Arvada Center’s beautiful facility.
Wonderbound Fundraiser and Photo Exhibit at Fuel Cafe – On June 24, we had the pleasure of heading down the road to Catherine and Bob Blair’s Fuel Cafe at Taxi for a fundraiser hosted by the Blairs, Stephen Dynia and Ahita Ardalan, and Leilani Renteria. Before the event we installed photos created this past season in collaboration with photographer Lena Prieto and homeless residents from the neighborhood.
During the evening, guests enjoyed treats prepared by Bob while they learned about the work Wonderbound has been doing to be a catalyst for social change and make a positive impact on the lives of its neighbors.
President Obama visits Denver – As a decidedly purple state Colorado gets its fair share of visits from elected officials, but on July 9 our neighborhood saw an unusual amount of activity as President Obama made his way to several engagements around the city. The Wonderbound staff joined our neighbors on the street to cheer on the president and his motorcade as it passed a total of three times that day.
Artspace visits Junction Box – Artspace, one of ArtPlace America’s regular partners, came to our neighborhood on July 15 as part of a feasibility study, in partnership with the City of Denver and the River North Art District (RiNo), for artists’ live/work space. During their visit, we had the pleasure of giving the group a tour of Junction Box and sharing a bit about our creative placemaking efforts.
Wish of a Lifetime Send-off Party – Wonderbound had the pleasure of working with Wish of a Lifetime Foundation to grant a wish to David, one of our Project Generations participants at the Retreat at Church Ranch. On July 20, we gathered with his fellow residents to cheer him on as he prepared to depart on fly-fishing trip with his brother, who he hadn’t seen in many years.
City Parks Alliance Urban Parks Study Tour – On August 1-2, more than 30 park professionals from across North America convened in Denver for a tour of Denver’s city park system organized by City Parks Alliance and Denver Parks & Recreation. As a City Parks Alliance Board Member, Junction Box co-owner Amy Harmon and her Urban Market Partners hosted the group for their breakfast orientation at Junction Box before a walking tour of our neighborhood parks.
San Francisco’s Smuin Ballet – On August 3, Dawn and I departed for San Francisco to stage my “Serenade for Strings” on Smuin Ballet. We spent two weeks with this lovely organization, led by Artistic Director Celia Fushille, as we guided the dancers through the ins and outs of this athletic work. I will return to San Francisco at the end of September to move the work to the stage as Smuin gives it its West Coast premiere on October 3 during its season opening program, Untamed.
TheBigWonderful – Our quickly evolving neighborhood saw the launch of a new, sustainable, urban market on July 12 at Sustainability Park, just two blocks from Junction Box. Occurring every Saturday into October, TheBigWonderful “is a low-cost/high traffic curated food exhibition for entrepreneurs and existing food establishments to sell, test, and market new and existing food items. In exchange, the public is able to try as many locally and globally inspired recipes as their hearts desire and helps you get instant feedback on your items and generate income.”
We wish founder Josh Sampson, who relocated to Denver from Brooklyn, NY, and his team the greatest success as they look to make TheBigWonderful a year-round affair.
Recent Local Conversations
Wonderbound Producing Director Dawn Fay and other arts leaders weigh in with reporter Megan Verlee on the Denver Performing Arts Complex: Colorado Public Radio – Denver struggling to keep performing arts complex relevant.
I talked with arts reporter Stephanie Wolf for a story about Colorado’s numerous international arts festivals: Colorado Public Radio – Few Colo. artists highlighted in international arts festivals in Rockies.
And, sports columnist Benjamin Hochman reached out to get my thoughts on Broncos quarterback Payton Manning’s unique dance moves: The Denver Post – Hochman: Peyton Manning flagged for illegal motion.
As Wonderbound closed its fiscal year on July 31, it was a natural time to reflect on the past year, to consider our success and our misses, and also looking forward to what is ahead. As I talk about Wonderbound and its work, I regularly describe it as a journey; and each program, project or event that we engage in is a part of the whole. I find that this perspective helps to keep us evolving. It turns what we have learned into experience that we can draw on in future endeavors and helps us avoid perceiving any individual success as a formula for future undertakings. It keeps us from ever thinking that we have arrived.
During their summer hiatus, Wonderbound’s artists have had their own opportunities for reflection as they explored the world beyond the studio and stage. Company Artist Sarah Tallman captured her own thoughts about embracing the journey, making friends with “Time” and pushing back against perfection in a beautiful essay titled “I’m not perfect.”
In addition, Wonderbound’s videographer Brad Stabio put together a video titled ” Morning Rehearsal” that embraces the theme of time at Junction Box.