What Do You Call A Trio Of Dance Companies Working In Harmony? A ‘Tour De Force’

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Photo: Tour de Force dance Rehearsal
Artists of the Colorado Ballet and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in rehearsal for a new contemporary work by Parker Robinson at the Colorado Ballet studios in Denver on Feb. 22, 2019.

It took these titans of Denver dance three years to come together.

Colorado Ballet artistic director Gil Boggs, Wonderbound artistic director Garrett Ammon and Cleo Parker Robinson alongside her titular company are collaborating on a new show, "Tour de Force."

Weaving together classical ballet with contemporary dance and other stylings wasn't easy, but to the show's creators, that was the point.

"In the world that we live in, we spend a lot of time trying to differentiate ourselves, define what makes us different," Ammon said. "We could spend more time talking about how we’re all the same."

"Tour de Force," which runs March 8-10, is divided into three parts. The dancers will first perform a new piece choreographed by Parker Robinson called "The MOVE/ment," honoring the Civil Rights Movement . Then, Colorado Ballet dancers will perform their ballet "Traveling Alone." The show concludes with a new piece from Ammon, "Creatures of Prometheus."

There was no navigating divas or soothing egos as the three directors came together.

"There was no time for that!" Parker Robinson said with a laugh. "We have tight schedules, we got right to the work."

How do you get a classically trained to let loose, or a contemporary dancer to take on traditional steps?

"Very carefully," Boggs said. "It is movement that they’re not doing everyday."

And, as Parker Robinson put it, the dancer having a "tremendous respect" for each other doesn't hurt.

"Most of the time (ballet dancers are) very upright, they’re en pointe, they have to be aligned. I’m taking them out of their alignment a lot of times," she said. "And they get real tickled when they find their bodies moving a certain way, and they start laughing."

Wonderbound's style also introduced a new kind of push and pull between dancers, Ammon said.

"We do a lot of physical partnering where the ladies are lifting the men and moving the men as much as the men are moving the women," Ammon said. "They had to create this deep unity with each other."

"Tour de Force" runs March 8-10 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.