Steamboat Dance Theatre hosts auditions for 40th annual concert |

Steamboat Dance Theatre hosts auditions for 40th annual concert

Nicole Inglis

Jessica Hale, center, hula hoops during a hoop dance workshop led by former local Jennifer Alberts last week at Excel Gymnastics. Hale will be choreographing a hoop dance piece for the 40th Steamboat Dance Theatre annual ccncert. Auditions are this weekend.

— Gina Toothaker remembers Steamboat Dance Theatre the way it was in 1986. It was her first year in the annual dance recital, and she performed in a lyrical jazz piece called "The Wind." There were 30 to 40 people in the production then. This year, the cast could comprise more than 120 dancers.

"When I started, it was just really cool to do something artistic and creative in such a small town," said Toothaker, who has participated in and choreographed for the annual fundraising concert on and off for 25 years.

"I think it's so neat that it's still in existence after 40 years. What's cool is we have the whole gamut, from people who have never set foot in a dance studio to professional dancers, and we have room for all of them."

Auditions for the 40th Steamboat Dance Theatre concert take place this weekend.

This year, auditions have been split up into two days, with registration at noon Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

There are auditions for different pieces each day, and dancers don't have to attend both days if they are interested only in a particular piece on a certain day.

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After registration, there will be a warm-up and announcements followed by half-hour auditions for each piece that involves learning a few counts of the dance.

There likely will be space in one of the dances for everyone who auditions. There are options for beginners and experienced dancers, with styles ranging from belly and tap dance to hoop and hip-hop. This year's theme is 40 Years of Steamboat Dance Theatre, and choreographers are drawing inspiration from various decades, historical events, fads and music from the past four decades.

Meg Widmer, who teaches belly dance in Steamboat, is a co-producer of the concert for the first time this year after six years involved with the program. Her intermediate belly dance piece will pay homage to the year 1987 — set to Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

The theme is wide-reaching on purpose, and choreographers have drawn motivation this year from concepts such as the Rodney King incident and crop circles.

"It's just a great way to meet people, dance, stay in shape, perform and do something that gives back to the community," Widmer said about being a part of the concert. There also are opportunities to be a part of the technical crew. "The show is the main source of fundraising for our scholarship program, and all of it stays local. It's really fun to perform, but it's nice knowing that Routt County benefits."

In its 2010-11 year, Dance Theatre gave away $5,000 in dance scholarships to local children, teens and adults who wanted to take dance lessons but couldn't afford to.

Dance Theatre also brought in professional dance companies to classes, supported local studios and, most recently, brought a hip-hop troupe from the Front Range to do an outreach program in local public schools.

"It lifts the spirit, and it creates joy," said Dance Theatre President Traci Smith. "Especially when we're going thorough hard times — there's a lot of negativity around — this is a huge positive for our community."

As for the concert itself, Smith said the weekly rehearsal commitment of six months can seem like a lot. But Dance Theatre has become her life.

"We basically work our butts off all the way through to the show," she said. "But I've made the best friends of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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