From the North Pacific Rim to the Western Slope |

From the North Pacific Rim to the Western Slope

April E. Clark
Arts and entertainment contributor

CARBONDALE — Art will imitate life in Siberia as the Aspen Dance Connection presents a performance based on a nonfiction novel Sunday.

This week, Aspen Dance Connection hosts Boston dance company Weber Dance as it performs “Synchronicity and the Sacred Space,” based on the “The Raven’s Gift” by Dr. Jon Turk. Performances take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 9, at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale and in Grand Junction at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at the Roper Music Ballroom upstairs, 130 N. Fifth St.

“Rita Marsh, director of Davi Nikent in Carbondale, introduced me to Jon when he was here a couple of years ago speaking at the 5 Point Film Festival,” said Fran Page, Aspen Dance Connection artistic/executive director. “I was so impressed with the quality of the dancers on the video that I wanted to bring them here.”

Lecture demonstrations are being presented at schools from Aspen to Paonia, with master classes with Weber Dance scheduled for Aspen, Basalt and Grand Junction. The dance and lecture events are part of a Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF)-sponsored tour.

“It will be fun to see how the audience reacts here as well as in our school performances for kids,” Page said. “I am excited about the mix of gorgeous dancers and a quirky scientist/explorer who obviously is not a dancer, and yet he moves.”

Turk’s book “The Raven’s Gift” — the inspiration behind Weber Dance’s “Synchronicity and the Sacred Space” arrangement — is based on his Arctic adventure across the North Pacific Rim by kayak. During Turk’s two-year journey through the Siberian wilderness, he met a 100-year-old shaman woman of the Koryak people. The shaman, named Moolynaut, taught him about the spiritual connection between humans and nature.

“Through her teachings, my own adventures, and the patient conversations of many men and women, I have begun to see the world as our ancestors saw it, sustainable and full of wonder,” said Turk, on his website. “Slowly, I am realizing that the lessons and experiences we learn from the people who live in wilderness — and ultimately from wilderness itself — can guide us through our passages in this oil-soaked, Internet-crazed, madcap world.”

Page said Turk lives an exciting life exploring untouched wilderness areas around the world, writing about his experiences along the way.

“Jon is so dynamic. His energy and enthusiasm is infectious,” she said. “People just love him. He really inspires people to be true to themselves and not be afraid to follow their dreams.”

After publishing “The Raven’s Gift” in 2011, the author, adventurer and scientist received a nomination by “National Geographic” as one of the top 10 explorers of the year. “Paddler Magazine” named Turk’s travels across the North Pacific Rim as one of the 10 greatest sea kayaking expeditions of all time.

“We are privileged to have Jon himself introduce each act with stories from his book about his expeditions,” Page said. “This event is about his time kayaking in the arctic. Since then, he has gone into the South American rain forest. He is speaking as the headliner for a big conference in Canada and will come directly from there to us.”

Page said Dr. Jody Weber’s dance company has also gained widespread acclaim, having performed in major cities nationwide. Weber received an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Somerville Arts Council, the Workspace for Choreographers in Virginia, and the Boston Dance Alliance Retreat and Residency Award.

“Weber Dance is a contemporary concert dance company who explores the possibilities of the vast expanse of human expression revealed through the extraordinary dynamic nuance of the body in motion,” Page said. “They have performed extensively in the Boston area, and San Francisco, Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York.”

Weber will teach master dance classes from 6-9 p.m. Friday, March 7, at Dance Progressions in Aspen and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at the Aspen Clinic in Basalt.

“I’m also very excited that Jody Weber will be teaching master classes,” Page said. “Local dancers will have the opportunity to perform a dance on the program and learn from these strong professional dancers.”

Tickets for “Synchronicity and the Sacred Space” featuring Dr. Jon Turk and Weber Dance are on sale at Dos Gringos in Carbondale and at the door Sunday at Roaring Fork High School.

Call 927-0641 to reserve spots for Friday and Saturday’s master dance classes.

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