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Dance theater looking for choreographers, dancers

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Steamboat Dance Theatre's winter performance won't take the stage until March, but now is the time for dancers and choreographers to step forward.

Choreographers with previous experience or "a burning desire" to choreograph for the first time must attend a choreographers' meeting at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Mahogany Ridge.

"We don't want to shut out anyone just because they haven't choreographed before," SDT producer Polly Idol-Cogswell said. "Dancers often make the most beautiful pieces."

Last year, Susannah Canfield, a dancer in her mid-20s, joined the SDT and combined hip-hop, ballet and yoga to create a piece Idol-Cogswell still remembers. Canfield had done some choreography in college, but SDT was her first time in a larger venue.

Last year's performance featured the work of 10 choreographers who staged a mix of dance styles from jazz to modern, ballet to ballroom dancing, African to Celtic.

The shape of this year's performance will depend on who shows up Sunday and the vision of SDT's new artistic director, Heidi Meshurel-Jolly.

Anyone interested in putting together a piece must submit his or her concept and a resume of choreography and dance experience Sunday night. Music choices also should be submitted, if possible.

New choreographers will be mentored by more experienced choreographers, Idol-Cogswell said.

The dance company plans to buy one piece of professional choreography this year, as well.

"We haven't purchased a piece in four years, because we couldn't afford it," she said.

Now that the group no longer pays rent on its rehearsal space -- the cost became unmanageable last season and the group gave up its Studio 2 space in March -- buying a piece is possible again.

This winter, they will rent space from dance studios in town and practice at the Depot Art Center when possible.

Auditions for dancers will be held Oct. 12 in the Northwest Ballet Studio on Oak Street. Sign-up begins at 3 p.m.; warm-up is at 3:30 p.m.; and auditions begin at 4 p.m. There is a $10 fee to audition.

Dancers do not need to prepare an audition piece. Choreographers will present their concepts to the dancers, and dancers will choose which pieces they are interested in.

Auditions may run as long as four hours, Idol-Cogswell said.

This year, Stephanie Reineke will not be returning as technical director. Reineke is pursuing her own projects, and the dance company is looking for an adequate replacement.

"There is definitely a hole," Idol-Cogswell said.

Rehearsals for March's performance will begin in late October.

This is Steamboat Dance Theatre's 31st year. The dance company originally began as the Depot Dance Theatre, named after their venue. The name changed when the company moved to the Steamboat Springs High School auditorium.

"I think we have survived so long because we meet the needs of both the dancers and the community," Idol-Cogswell said. "Fifteen years ago, the cultural landscape was much different in Steamboat. Strings did not exist. The Arts Council was not as active. We were concerned about the future for the Steamboat Dance Theatre."

Not anymore, she said. "I'm seeing a lot of young blood -- new energy, new ideas. I'm not worried anymore. I think we'll be around for a while longer."

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