In 2007, Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fay moved to Colorado to take the helm of a small professional ballet company in the suburbs of Denver. Under their guidance the company, then known as Ballet Nouveau Colorado, was transformed into a rostrum for the creation and presentation of new choreography and the nurturing of contemporary dance artists.
Ammon and Fay started from scratch with the company’s performance repertoire, creating all new work that respected the past but embraced the future. With a commitment to dance that was both artistically rich and highly accessible, the organization’s vision filled an important void in the region’s dance offerings and captured the imagination of a new and enthusiastic audience.
By creating shows to rock and pop music, integrating multimedia technology, and embracing social media in creative ways the organization garnered a lot of attention both locally and nationally, including being named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2009.
As Ammon familiarized himself with the Denver arts scene, he began developing productions with the area’s diverse range of artists. In the following years, multi-medium collaborations would come to define the dance company as it took remarkable journeys with writers from Lighthouse Writers Workshop, musicians like Paper Bird and Jesse Manley, visual artists from RedLine and photographers like Mark Sink and Kristen Hatgi.
Over the course of five years, the artistic vision of Ammon and Fay helped to define the company as a creative leader in the state of Colorado. By collaborating with artists across a spectrum of mediums, the company created transformative experiences that upended notions about how dance can be created and shared in the community.
Though the dance company was succeeding artistically, the organization was built on a twentieth century nonprofit model that was out of step with the new economy. In 2012, Ammon and Fay embarked on a nine-month assessment and development process with Bonfils-Stanton Foundation to discover new solutions for the organization’s longterm sustainability, impact and growth.
From ground up they began re-imagining the structures that support the company’s work. Out of this process grew a new and daring vision that would free the company to blossom to its full potential as well as a new brand that could capture its essence.
In December of 2012, Wonderbound was introduced to the world.
During this process, Ammon and Fay were introduced to urban in-fill developer and community leader Amy Harmon. They quickly discovered a natural synergy with Harmon and began working with her to create an innovative shared space that would bring the nonprofit, private and public sectors under one roof by housing Wonderbound; her development company, Urban Market Partners; and Community Coordinating District No. 1, a Metropolitan District established by local citizens to be a partner with the City of Denver Parks and Recreation, Public Works and Human Services.
In March 2013, less than one year after the development process with Bonfils-Stanton Foundation began, Wonderbound made the move to the shared space at 1075 Park Avenue West – a 1920’s United States Post Office Garage at the confluence of Denver’s Arapahoe Square, Ballpark, Curtis Park, Five Points and RiNo Neighborhoods.
The building was affectionately dubbed “Junction Box” for its unassuming architecture and its location at the intersection of three major thoroughfares, but most importantly for the idea that it would serve as a gathering place and nerve center to animate the area with ongoing creative energy.
With the move, Ammon and Fay made the significant decision to open Wonderbound’s creative process to the public. Virtually every day there are guests in the space who, depending on the hour and day they show up, may see a full run-thru of a new ballet, an inspired period of rapid choreographic creation, or a slow process of negotiating just a few seconds of movement.
Wonderbound’s move to Junction Box captured the imagination of the community, opened new avenues of opportunity, and was celebrated as a daring organizational and artistic move. In an economic and social climate that was inhospitable to traditional performing arts models, Wonderbound’s vision for the future shined bright and two months after the move to Junction Box, Wonderbound was awarded a $250,000 ArtPlace America Creative Placemaking grant.
Today, Wonderbound stands reborn as a new American dance company that lives at the convergence of the seemingly disparate ideas of tradition and innovation, vulnerability and courage, and intimacy and openness. Resident within the Wonderbound family is a collection of multi-talented individuals who have embraced these paradoxical ideas and been selected for their capacity, creativity and daring. They revel in the idea that Wonderbound is forging a new path and building a new model for how the performing arts are created, supported and shared in a rapidly evolving world.