Arts center flying high over new dance company

Anne-Marie Kelley
Special to the Post Independent
Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The final curtain has come down on the annual Dancers Dancing program. But in its place, a new professional dance company is born in Glenwood Springs.

On Nov. 4, artistic directors Gary Snider, Deanna Anderson and Claire Evans, along with Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts executive director Gayle Mortell, established the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts/Dance Arts Theatre Company.

“We’re raising the bar,” said Anderson. “There’s no reason Glenwood Springs can’t have a professional dance troupe. Recitals are a thing local dance studios do. We’re going to put on performances in which dancers train very hard to participate.”

Professional dancers from the Joffrey Ensemble in New York have already committed to participating in the company’s performance of Act II of Sleeping Beauty in May. The company will also present several other pieces, including original choreography by both Anderson and Evans.

All three directors have extensive experience in dance.

By the age of 3, Anderson and Snider, who are siblings, were training at the San Francisco Ballet. Both started their professional careers in San Francisco and then moved to New York to dance. They joined the American Ballet Theatre and danced with legendary ballet figures, including Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland.

While in New York, Anderson also danced with the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine and was an original member of the Broadway production of “Cats.”

When Anderson stopped dancing professionally, she began teaching and serving as artistic director for dance companies, most recently the Atlanta Ballet Youth Co.

Snider went on to dance with Harkness and the Joffrey Ballet in New York. Later, he joined the La Scala troop in Spain and then danced in the Jubilee in Las Vegas. After his on-stage career ended, Snider began teaching at American Ballet Theatre, Harkness and the Joffrey.

Evans has taught dance on the Western Slope since 1987. She began her formal training in Austin, Texas, but it wasn’t until she moved to Denver that she really focused on dance as a career. In 1986, she moved to Rifle, where she established a dance school. In 1992, she began teaching dance, primarily jazz and tap, at the arts center and Colorado Mountain College.

“I hope starting a company generates a lot more interest in our programs,” Evans said explaining that dance has often lost out with high school-aged students to the sports programs.

Mortell said about 230 students participate in the growing dance program. She said she still can’t believe how lucky she was the day Anderson walked in the door of the arts center.

“I was looking at her resume thinking, ‘Holy smokes, holy smokes, holy smokes!'” Mortell said.

Glenwood Springs has been without a dance company since the mid-’90s.

In 1984, Andrea Loverro-Sprick established Glenwood Springs Dance Works. This company of local dancers performed mainly modern pieces and showcased its work at the annual Glenwood Springs Dance Festival. Loverro-Sprick said the festival and the company came to an end in 1994 due to a lack of community support.

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