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Ancient themes and modern dance take to Ute Theater

A Zikr Dance Ensemble performance.
Zikr Dance Ensemble

Modern ballet meets ancient narrative in the Zikr Dance Ensemble’s “Lifting the Veil,” hitting the Ute Theater on Oct. 30.

The work explores divine external forces that have impacted humans for centuries. It blends world-class dancers with advanced film projections, visuals and music to delve into the relationship of the physical and spiritual worlds, Zikr Artistic Director David Taylor said.

“It basically has to do with the challenges and struggles here on Earth that we go through in the physical world,” Taylor said. “Behind the scenes, there has always been sort of a divine presence of masters, initiates, guides, gurus, what have you, on the spiritual plane that have always been trying to help us.”



The show’s title refers to the line between the physical and spiritual planes, which Taylor said is colloquially referred to as “the veil.” The piece debuted in the spring season and is headlining Zikr’s fall season slate.

Other shows on the program include the ensemble’s “Runes” and “Oracle,” covering Viking and Greek mythology, and two smaller pieces. A duet called “Parallel and Elevated” is joined with “The Assyrian Women Mourners,” which Taylor said is more than 2,000 years old.



The Rifle show will conclude a fall run of shows for the group’s Rural Colorado Community tour. They’ve traveled to Carbondale before, but it will be the group’s first performance in Rifle, despite Taylor’s long-standing relationship with Ute Theater Director Wayne Pleasants.

The timing never lined up in previous years, but as the Ute continues to revive itself after the pandemic with expanded offerings, the wait was worth it.

“We’re trying to rebuild from COVID,” Pleasants said. “The more we can do between music and the variances and genres of music, along with throwing ballet in at times, throwing other forms of dance in at times, doing a theater piece or two, that’s the upshot is to try to bring in a variance to our program so we catch as many different people as we can.”

Pleasants said they had 75 no-shows a few weeks ago for a show, part of which he attributed to ongoing COVID-19 concerns and another part to the change of schedule after the show was moved from last year.

He and the theater believe that, as a whole, the community is ready to rebound from COVID-19 as well and go out and do things. Their strategy is to connect the community with variable offerings to get their attention.

Zikr is a good place to start; it’s been heralded as one of the most unique ballet experiences in Denver.

Taylor added that, despite recruiting difficulties due to the pandemic, the cast he has now is the best he’s ever rostered.

“We have seven new dancers out of 11 for this particular task,” Taylor said. “It was a challenge, but they have been incredible. They’ve learned the entire rep in two weeks. They’re actually the sharpest cast I’ve ever had.”

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30. Tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for children, with discounts for dance class students.

Tickets are available at UteTheater.com or at the theater’s box office, which is open Tuesday through Friday.

More info on the Zikr Dance Ensemble is available at ZikrDance.com.


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