Colorado Ballet artistic director Gil Boggs

(Photo: Courtesy of Colorado Ballet)
The Colorado Ballet has called Denver home for more than five decades.

And throughout the course of that timespan, the dance company has presented Denver audiences with a bounty of fairy tales and iconic ballets from "Nutcracker" and "Giselle" to "Cinderella." These evening-length dance narratives have become the organization’s staples. 

However, artistic director Gil Boggs understands the value of giving his dancers the chance to learn different styles of movement and choreography, as well as the necessity of bringing in outside choreographers.

This week, Colorado Ballet presents “Ballet Director’s Choice” at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

The mixed bill evening includes San Francisco choreographer Amy Seiwert’s “Traveling Alone,” former New York City Ballet dancer Edwaard Liang’s “Feast of the Gods” and “The Last Beat,” a world premiere by ballet mistress Sandra Brown.

The choreographers created all three pieces specifically on and for the dancers in the Colorado Ballet.

CPR caught up with Boggs to find out more about the specifics of his "Ballet Director's Choice" program. 

CPR: Why did you develop the “Ballet Director’s Choice” concept?

Gil Boggs: The creation process of new works in a ballet company’s repertoire should be a high priority. The art form cannot be allowed to become stagnant. All three works on the “Ballet Director’s Choice” program were choreographed on the dancers of Colorado Ballet. “Feast of the Gods” (2009) and “Traveling Alone” (2012) proved to be audience favorites and excellent works to present alongside the world premiere of “The Last Beat.

CPR: For this season's "Director's Choice" program in particular, you’ve mentioned a distinct relationship between “pure dance and music.” Can you elaborate on this more, especially for Amy Seiwert’s “Traveling Alone” with music by Max Richter? What is so special about this particular dance and its connection to the music?

Gil Boggs: It is very apparent how the music has influenced the choreography in this work. There is a repeating theme in the musical composition that is not melodic at all. It represents the sections in which the lead dancer "travels alone" in the piece. The other musical sections are very melodic and ethereal. They represent the people the dancer meets through traveling.

CPR: Is there any narrative, even a loose one, behind Edwaard Liang’s “Feast of the Gods”? If not, are there central themes in the ballet?

Gil Boggs: Yes. When Edwaard arrived to choreograph “Feast of the Gods,” we talked about what he had in mind. He was envisioning a group of gypsies, who have been traveling all day, and then set up camp for the night and have a feast to celebrate.

CPR: Can you give more details about the world premiere of Sandra Brown’s “The Last Beat”? What are some of the influences driving the work?

Gil Boggs: I wanted to do a ballet that was Denver-based, which meant the choreographer, music, costume designer and lighting designer all had to be based here. The dancers live here, obviously. I asked Sandy to listen to the music of a few local bands, and she settled on the music of local rock band DeVotchKa. The music is usually the first choice in the creative process and, thus, became the inspiration for the choreography of “The Last Beat.” 

CPR: The Colorado Ballet has a large repertoire stacked with full-length, storybook ballets. What type of opportunities does a mixed bill program at a smaller venue offer the dance artists of the Colorado Ballet?

Gil Boggs: Everyone just gets to dance. These are very physical works, where the dancers get to show what they’ve got and are not bound by 19th-century choreography. This was a collaborative experience with the choreographer, which affords the dancers the opportunity to grow as artists by being integral to the creative process. With everyone standing in straight lines and doing the same choreography in “Giselle,” this program makes for a great outlet for individuality.

“Ballet Director’s Choice” runs at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts March 28 – 30. For more information, visit ColoradoBallet.org