Thursday, October 23, 2003
As always, Heidi Meshurel-Jolly is pushing her dancers to be better by dancing beside them. The piece is a Bob Fosse standard set to the song "Steam Heat" from "The Pajama Game."
Fosse's choreography is famous from Broadway -- dancers in bowler hats and white gloves. He asks dancers to execute steps that are sometimes in painfully slow motion using movements that dissect the human body for the audience's examination.
Meshurel-Jolly taught the piece in a theater dance class this summer at Colorado Mountain College.
"They worked so hard, I decided to put it in (this weekend's) show," she said.
The Fosse piece will be the only time Meshurel-Jolly takes this stage during this weekend's "A Festival of Dance." The rest of her work will be behind the scenes.
The evening showcases the work of four Steamboat choreographers -- Meshurel-Jolly, Tiana Hegemann-Kane, Nora Parker and Molly Mintun -- and 14 dance pieces.
"The idea behind this is to get some variety on the stage," Meshurel-Jolly said.
Hegemann-Kane choreographed a funky hip-hop piece for the younger dancers, ages 11 to 14.
Hip-hop, which is a popular dance with classes offered across the country, started with break dancing in the early 1980s, Meshurel-Jolly said. In the late '80s and early '90s, it was taken over by such groups as New Kids on the Block and now the dance form is getting back to its break-dancing roots.
This is the first year for "A Festival of Dance" put on by the Oak Street Performing Arts Company. Last year, the company staged "Jolly Holidays" and plans to alternate the two shows every other year.
The Oak Street Performing Arts Company held auditions in the spring, and almost 50 dancers showed up, ranging in age from 6 to 50. Everyone got a part.
The dancers spent all summer braiding hair and painting faces at the free concerts, the Beaux Arts Festival and the Fall Foliage Festival. The money they earned went toward costumes and production costs for this weekend's show.
The show will include three classical ballet pieces, a maypole dance, a jazz piece and a modern piece set to the gospel song "Walking in Jerusalem."
The Oak Street Performing Arts Company is Meshurel-Jolly's project outside of the Northwest Ballet Studio.
Her goal is to "bring as many different forms of art into the performances as possible -- so that it's not just dance," she said. This show will involve live music by the Celtic band Gaeltacht, on stage to accompany Parker's traditional Irish soft-shoe dancers.
Parker has been working with a teacher in Denver to learn more traditional steps, instead of guessing, Meshurel-Jolly said. "She's a good perfectionist."
Mintun will round out the show with the traditional belly dancing that has become her trademark on Steamboat stages.
The thread that ties "A Festival of Dance" together is the desire to show as many different styles of dance as possible.
"We want to give people something they may not have seen before," Meshurel-Jolly said.
There also will be a surprise, "if the kids can keep it quiet.
"I'll only say we are taking something traditional and doing something different with it."