We might all be feeling like we’re merely existing in-between disasters these days.
Dancer Jordan McHenry did. But as the gloom descended, he became more focused on and inspired by the talented dancers he met around town, in the recreational dance classes he teaches and through his job as Colorado Springs Dance Theatre’s executive director. Finding these creative people spurred him to create the contemporary dance show “Living Safely Between.”
“It was important for me to curate an evening trying to get people to remember art is a tool to bring you back to the present,” says McHenry, “and to live safely between disastrous reminders that are happening all the time. It’s a way to find joy in living.”
The event features short solo dance pieces by eight performers, including McHenry, Gabi Elliott, Sue Lauther and Drew Fountain, all choreographed by McHenry. There are four opportunities to see the 25-minute performance Friday at Ormao Dance Company. Attendance will be limited and distanced. Proceeds will go to TESSA, a local domestic violence prevention organization.
McHenry’s soloists are wide-ranging. There’s Lauther, an older woman who teaches at Colorado College and Ormao.
“I was inspired by Sue’s youthful persona coming to my class and keeping up with the early 20s dancers,” says McHenry. “She brought me to the moment just in class.”
He found 12-year-old Elliott through one of his classes at Kemper Dance Academy: “She’s a smart girl and has a captivating personality.”
The pieces are set to music you might recognize — Talking Heads, Nina Simone, Tracy Chapman — it’s whatever moves and inspires the choreographer.
McHenry, a Colorado Springs native who graduated from Air Academy High School, moved back to town full time in March due to the pandemic. His most recent professional job was dancing with the Martha Graham Dance Company on its 90th anniversary tour, which traveled to 36 countries in two years. Before that he danced with Cirque Du Soleil for seven years, including five with the “Zumanity” show in Las Vegas, and was cast as a dancer in the 2010 thriller “Black Swan.”
When he landed back in the Springs, he found a rich environment and was eager to build a wider understanding of dance. However, he still comes across those who want to be fully entertained, and that’s not always the purpose of contemporary art.
“It’s asking you to think and challenging what you think is dance or who is a dancer, like Sue or Gabi,” he says. “They don’t look like professional dancers or have professional dancer bodies, but they’re on stage getting paid. It’s how do you look at bodies openly and lovingly with kindness?”
Contact the writer: 636-0270