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I ambled downtown to the Junction Box, the new Wonderbound studio, to check out the space, witness the alchemy and have a chat with the wizard himself. The doors wide open policy at this vibrant new studio is perhaps the defining quality of the Wonderbound company. Walkers, wanderers and wayfarers are welcome to watch as Garrett and his lithesome dancers spread their joy, leaping tirelessly from repetition to repetition, stretching for perfection. Rush hour traffic idles, a homeless neighbor stops mid-shuffle and sways dreamily to the music. It’s all part of the soundtrack of community.
One of only a handful of American choreographers to be constantly presenting new works, I sat down with Ammon post-rehearsal for their new show, A Gothic Folktale to talk tutu. (I love when he does that).
Garrett_Ammon_2
TS- So, Innovator… about this award.
GA- Oh my god, it’s humbling. I mean, I’ve had so many opportunities to meet and work with some amazing people. I’m just a part of something much bigger.
No false modesty here, when Garrett speaks his authenticity draws you into his world. His vision is keen, his voice is clear and the feeling is that of an artist at peace with passion.
TS- Being a Realtor, I have to ask. How have things changed in the new space?
GA- Oh, completely, it truly fits our identity; the sense of urgency that urbanism creates, it expands on our relationship with our audience, and the need to make dance accessible.
TS- Denver really responds to you, like you’re our dance company. Why do you think that is?
GA- Hmmn. That’s nice. I think part of it is about how your art engages the world, your personal world and the larger. So dance, movement, exists in relationship to space, to humanity, but it also pushes the internals. I feel really connected, not just to the concept of connectedness, but to the energy of that union which exists in community. It’s like you embrace it, and—
TS- You build relationships.
GA- Yes.
TS- So the Arts Innovation Award is kinda like the city hugging you back.
GA- It feels that way, yes.
TS- Why do you think you’ve succeeded in creating this kind of intimate relationship with Denver?
( a long pause.)
GA- Because we’re not afraid to fail. Because we work really, really hard. And because at the end of the day, we want the same thing as everyone else in this city: to be fulfilled, to do something we’re passionate about, to be able to make a living doing what we love.
He looks out the open door at the river of cars.
GA- Isn’t that what we all want?
TS- What do you want?
GA- I want to keep pushing myself, of course. I don’t want to do the same thing because it’s that thing, so there’s that part. If I can build and sustain this company so that its members can live, you know, buy a house and really make this a career, that would be a great success.
TS- I love that. Especially the ‘buying a house’ part.
(laughs)
The Mayors Awards for Excellence in Arts and Culture will be presented to the recipients on November 14 from 6:30-8:00 PM at the Studio Loft. The event is free and open to the public. http://artsandvenuesdenver.com/events-programs/mayors-awards/
A Gothic FolktaleThe magic of autumn burns golden in its fiery leaves, reflecting on Denver’s cultural scene as it springs back to life. While the rest of us spent the summer at the beach and the ballpark, Denver’s creative community has been crafting their 2013-14 offerings. A highlight for me is the launch of Wonderbound’s inaugural season as they leap to life with a new work called A Gothic Folktale. The magic in Artistic Director, Garrett Ammon’s, choreography is often born in collaboration with other carefully selected artists, this time Denver musician, Jesse Manley, and mentalist Professor Phelyx are the lucky partners in the sublime. The effect is more than just magical, with its haunting strains and evocative story, the show is mysterious, engaging and even soothing as you lilt away to another time and place. The Wonderbound website vows to invert my reality: it was definitely twisted at the Sunday show. I took my fourteen year old son (not always an easy thing to do) and even he was transfixed. We were discussing the performance, elements of dance, the music and illusion, and then he pops out with my favorite observation. He looked at the audience that Wonderbound brings together, mix of ages and styles, and says, “Mom, this is the most interesting looking group of people I’ve ever seen in one room. It’s like the all have a really good secret in life.” Which they do. Well done, Mr. Ammon.
A Gothic Folktale plays this weekend, October 26th & 27th at the Parker Arts and Cultural Center. Tickets available.

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/cultured-people-happier-less-stressed.

People who go to museums and concerts or create art or play an instrument are more satisfied with life, regardless of how educated or rich they are.


For years we’ve read studies about how arts in education create better students, especially with the math+music connection. Here’s proof (I’m calling it proof) that you don’t have to be Baby Mozart or write the Great American Novel to benefit from the creative spirit. Partaking in the experience is a spiritual anti-oxidant of its own.
Cultural institutions work hard raising funds and keeping doors open and the gift of your attention helps them keep giving, creating a rich communal experience and increasing the value of our cities. When funding issues hit the ballot the arts are ofttimes berated. Seems to me the beraters might be happier if they picked up that dusty guitar in the basement or that watercolour they’d judged themselves harshly for and didn’t finish.
We’re inundated with news of of the benefits of exercise and healthful eating; we would be well served to take heed of our need for arts & culture as well.

This spring, Denver placed a respectful #3 on the first annual PR Newswire “Cities on the Edge” study. Factors like our love of extreme sports, a thriving music, arts & cultural scene, the respectful way we’re building green, contributed to our raise rank as well as the perception that we are ‘poised for greatness.’ Of course, we who live in Denver could have told them this. Over the past fifteen years, we’ve watched our Mile High City grow and flourish right before our eyes. We’ve built and rebuilt, created and recreated, and come into our own through the hard work and dedication of our citizens, our leaders and our innovators. We’ve hosted the World Series and the Democratic National Convention, won two Stanley Cups, two Superbowls, built or expanded four museums, created four or five arts districts and some sassy neighborhoods, grown our theatres to the nation’s center stage and thrown some bands into the spotlight. Colorado is on fire!
(…didn’t Governor Owens land in hot water for saying that?)

One thing about living here that makes us great beyond the flash is our strong sense of community. On an early, drizzly morning last week, I roused my grousing sons out of bed and joined more than 500 volunteers for Concert for Kids’ Community Day, a masterfully planned day of giving back. Over 40 of the metro area’s non-profit organizations welcomed busloads of volunteers to their sites for fix-up projects. We were transported to the Bridge Project to complete a to-do list that included painting, landscaping, and cleaning, prior to the Monday morning carpet installation. With goods, services, labor and lunch donated by denizens and sponsors, a slam-dunk day of facility improvement allows these organizations to use their operating funds for the primary programming needs.

I had no idea what to expect from putting a roller and paint brush into the hands of my twelve and seventeen year old sons on a sleep-in-Saturday morning. Could this present a problem? Possibly, but not this day. This was a day of cheerful teamwork, service to others and the kind of hard work they’re rarely asked to do at home. I was uplifted by seeing them in this light; the strong and giving young men they’d grown to be. They were gratified having done something for someone else, and satisfied by the joy they left behind. It’s this kind of dig in and get it done spirit that tips Denver over the edge of greatness and Concert for Kids makes it doable. In gratitude, this weekend CFK presents the Denver Day of Rock in venues throughout the downtown area. Listen to the Gin Blossoms, the music of Styx, the Railbenders and more. Get on your feet and dance some Zydeco with your friends, your family and the strangers you’ll call friends by day’s end. There’s nothing like dancing in the streets to get the summer into full swing!