The Colorado Springs of today is far removed from its 1990s self, when Ormao Dance Company first appeared on the scene.
“The appetite for art was very different,” said Ormao founder Jan Johnson.
Johnson was hungry to create a wellspring of modern dance, for the public and the performers.
“I wanted the community to see we have dancers who lived here who were wonderful,” said the executive and artistic director. “There were few opportunities for them to perform.”
Though it was slow going at first, both population growth and new residents over the last decade, who arrived looking for more arts and culture opportunities, have been a boon to Ormao’s growth. To help celebrate its 30th anniversary season, the company will present “All at Once” on Friday and Saturday at its black box theater. It marks a return to indoor performances, after outdoor shows over the last 18 months of the pandemic.
“It’s a good, balanced repertoire show, which is what we are,” Johnson said. “We’re always looking at the human condition.”
To honor those three decades of dance, Johnson has brought in new and former choreographers to create 12-to 25-minute pieces for the dancers.
Mollie Wolf, a former Ormao student, will present her piece, “Entering Wilderness: Location Unknown.” The anxiety-provoking work features audible texts of commands we can hear during a day — “Notice your surroundings,” “Don’t make eye contact,” “Do make eye contact” — accompanied by an ambient music track with driving beats.
Ila Conoley’s “Six,” featuring six dancers, including Johnson, was created by having each dancer journal their thoughts on topics related to their bodies, such as choosing a body part and writing a conversation from that part to its owner.
In Johnson’s piece, “Liquid Mind,” three dancers intertwine their bodies with a piece of white silk that reminds Johnson of water: “It’s the idea of the underlying subconscious, and that we are all from one place. And as we grow and become older, we reveal ourselves in different ways.”
Choreographers Alice Klock and Florian Lochner, known as Flock, will present their piece “Memory Cue,” about family dynamics. Kailani Dobson’s multimedia installation, “Promisi.Austi,” will inhabit the small studio inside Ormao, and be available before and after the show.
“It’s (modern dance) a language of its own, but it’s a universal language that everyone can understand,” Johnson said.
“Through the lens of your life and experiences, you may see something different than the person sitting next to you, but modern dance allows for that space. It’s like an abstract painting. We see different things.”
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