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Spectrum Dance Festival returns to Carbondale

Photo Courtesy Peter Strand
Staff Photo |

For the second year in a row, Carbondale-based nonprofit Dance Initiative will hold its two-day Spectrum Dance Festival, providing a full lineup of dance-related workshops, competitions and performances this weekend.

Peter Gilbert, who founded the organization in 2009, said its mission is “to promote and support dance, dancers, choreographers and teachers of dance in our community” with a goal “to entertain and to educate.”

Because of the festival’s wide range of dancing styles, Gilbert said the name Spectrum seemed most fitting when he was organizing the inaugural event last year.



“The name Spectrum popped into my head because I didn’t want to focus on one style; I wanted to use the festival to introduce people in the area to forms of dance they may never have seen before,” he explained.

“It’s pretty amazing what [these break dancers] do. These are some of the top dancers in the state, and you’d think they could be Olympic gymnasts with how they handle their bodies.”
Peter Gilbert
Dance Initiative founder

“I saw the need to give dance its proper due in the world of arts here in the valley. We have lots of music, theater, painters and sculptors, but not very much dance. I’m trying to build the community.”



The majority of this weekend’s events will be held at the Third Street Center in Carbondale, including 11 different workshops on Saturday that range from tango to aerial artistry.

Open to dancers of all abilities, Gilbert said these workshops feature well-known dance teachers and choreographers from outside of the Roaring Fork Valley, allowing local dancers to work with instructors they might otherwise not encounter.

Saturday will also feature the “Battle 2 the Drums” break dance competition, providing a forum for more than 20 two-person crews to compete for a $1,000 prize. Elimination rounds will take place beginning at 3 p.m., at which point a panel of three judges will narrow the field to eight crews.

“It’s pretty amazing what they do,” Gilbert said of the break dancers. “These are some of the top dancers in the state, and you’d think they could be Olympic gymnasts with how they handle their bodies.”

The judges, who are all professional break dancers, include Ruen (Los Angeles), Mig187 (Las Vegas) and Airsick (St. Louis). Saturday evening, the crews will compete in quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds, with the latter two featuring live African drumming by the Marbonia All Stars.

In between the quarterfinals and semifinals, there will be a performance titled The X Dances, featuring “On the Earth and In the Air” with Gabi Rojas and Michelle “Meesh” McGlone.

“Gabi and Meesh have spent a week together in Denver creating a performance combining dance and aerials,” Gilbert said. “Meesh recently performed with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks, and Gabi grew up in a circus family, so she’s very comfortable in the air.”

The final event on Saturday will be the La Milonga tango party in the Round Room at the Third Street Center.

Finishing up the weekend, Sunday will feature what Gilbert described as the weekend’s showcase event: two performances by the ZIKR Dance Ensemble.

“It’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon or evening, watching these beautiful dancers perform these dramatic pieces,” Gilbert said. “They perform a spectrum of works, and they’re really stunning and powerful pieces.”

David Taylor, the group’s artistic director, discussed some of the ZIKR Dance Ensemble’s unique qualities.

“We are a little different from most professional dance companies in that we try to focus on one genre, and that is transcendent dance rituals that come from different areas of the world and different times in history,” said Taylor, who has worked in the dance industry for 45 years.

Performances by the ZIKR Dance Ensemble can include everything from contemporary ballet to the Gurdjieff movements, a collection of sacred dances. Taylor said he utilizes brightly colored costumes and slide projections to enhance the show.

“This will be our fourth time in Carbondale, and we’re really thrilled to come back,” Taylor said. “Our goal is to do an excellent, top-of-the-line performance for our audience, and hopefully we can sell out both shows.”

The ZIKR Dance Ensemble will perform at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale. Thanks to a donation from Alpine Bank, the matinee performance is free for children 18 and under; adult admission is $20.


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