Teen ready to hit the stage in theater showcase

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— Austin Forrest may not be able to ask for a cup of coffee in Spanish, but his artistic expression of the Argentine tango landed him a spot in this year's Steamboat Dance Theatre showcase and a trip to the South American country.

Forrest will partner with Beth Bagley-Lewis for an Argentine tango piece today and Saturday a great way to celebrate his 18th birthday two days early.

The love of dance as an avenue to express people's creative and artistic talents has remained a community event for the past 30 years in Steamboat Springs.

Every March, the Steamboat Dance Theatre recruits new faces and new dances to offer entertainment to the community as well as showing off great Steamboat talent.

One of this year's new faces and new talents is Forrest.

"I started with the East Coast swing and took ballroom classes at the college and then learned the cha-cha," said Forrest, adding tango just fell in line of dances to learn and tap dancing is his current fetish.

Since his lessons from professional tango dancer Daniel Trenner this summer at Perry-Mansfield, Forrest has been focused on his upcoming piece in the showcase as well as his trip to Argentina in April.

"I'm surprised that I caught onto it so quickly, but I still have a lot more to learn," Forrest said.

Forrest began dance lessons just two years ago and learned the Argentine tango only one year ago from Bagley-Lewis and her husband, Sid.

"We kind of have a routine, but mostly the male leads and he interprets the music," Forrest said.

The 30th anniversary showcase this weekend will feature African dance, the Argentine tango, jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, ballet and Native American.

Also new this year is a professional Omaha, Native American dancer Clint Cayou. He is from the Fort Collins area and will appear in full Native American regalia. Steamboat Dance Theatre President Gigi Walker and former president Robin Getter said this has yet to occur for the Steamboat Dance Theatre.

"Powwows are so neat. People come from all over and have drumming, dances and sell their goods," said Walker, adding powwows are competitions among several Native American tribes.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary, Getter said she is re-debuting her Women's River Ritual back to the stage after 15 years. This was her second or third choreographed piece after her start in the Steamboat Dance Theatre.

"It has an Afro-Caribbean influence. People will remember the dance. People that were in it that will be in the audience will remember it," Getter said.

The only difference with the new Women's River Ritual is the elaborate costumes Getter made and the addition of a male Chris Carbone.

Getter and Walker said the tap pieces this year are sizzling-hot numbers and one of the biggest yet for the Steamboat Dance Theatre.

"Robin and I are in a tap piece together for the first time," Walker said.

Walker said she began in the Steamboat Dance Theatre just three or four years after its start in 1972 and could only say the dances and dancers have improved as time has progressed.

"It's more professional. I have to hand it to the choreographers," Walker said.

Walker said it's amazing the choreographers can take any level of dancer and work them into a dance. This year warrants new people who have never danced before in a new piece.

"If they want to be on stage, we'll make sure they are," Walker said. "It's so fun dancing with other people."

Although the theater considers the people in the company an adult-level program, members said at times they've even had children on stage.

But Forrest wouldn't consider himself a child, only a young and novice dancer who has picked up a new passion quickly and will continue dancing after high school.

"I definitely plan on continuing dance. I'm moving to Costa Mesa, Calif., and going to Orange Coast Community College it's only 45 minutes from L.A.," Forrest said ecstatically.

Steamboat Dance Theatre, an affiliate of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, gives money away every year for scholarships, grants, guest artists and the new Promethea Dance Project.

"If we don't keep bringing these people up here, we don't get better," Getter said of guest artists and dancers to help them learn new pieces.

While the price for other dance shows and plays continues to rise in the community every year, Getter said Steamboat Dance Theatre tries to make its annual performance affordable for everyone.

As the budget continues to get tighter with new programs and improved talent, Getter and Walker said they would have to look to other forms of monetary assistance.

"We'll have a few small shows for fund-raisers this year and we're looking for a grant writer," Getter said.

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