Friday, March 12, 2010

In the Heights - Connecting with Denver's Dance Scene

This weekend we will be at the Denver Dance Festival promoting In the Heights, which will play The Buell Theatre April 28-May 9. The Denver Dance Festival is a three-day dance festival held annually in Denver featuring live performances from some of Denver’s best dance talent. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to reach out to a community that may not know that not all musicals are jazz hands and kick lines.

In The Heights tells the story of a vibrant community in Manhattan’s Washington Heights – a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.

Propelled by the rhythms of hip hop and Latin music – uncommon sounds in musical theatre – In The Heights ’ invigorating beat belies a musical steeped in Broadway tradition. Plus it won four Tony Awards in 2008 for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Orchestration and, more importantly for this weekend, BEST CHOREOGRAPHY! Catch a glimpse of the dancing in this video of the song “96,000″:

We took some time to chat with Denver Dance Festival’s creators and directors Sarah Schachterle and Ken Jiminez about the Denver Dance Festival (DDF) and how it connects with In The Heights.

Denver Center: What made you start DDF?

Sarah & Ken: We wanted to display the talent of Colorado choreographers and dance companies and give them an avenue to unite with other artists and expose the greater community to the abundance of talent in the area. We wanted to gain recognition and popularity in dance within Colorado and to be known throughout the country as an up and coming prestigious dance festival offering a world-class dance experience. We wanted to include the most accomplished local and national dance talent in the festival, exposing the Colorado community to an even greater dimension of dance entertainment.

DC: Exposing them to a greater dimension of dance entertainment, that’s great and much like what we are trying to do with In The Heights! Tell us about some of the crews and companies performing.

S&K: We have everything from breakdancing to swingdancers. A couple of our groups were accepted on MTV’s hit show “America’s Best Dance Crew” and we have guest performers from New York City whose main performer and choreographer, “Stretch,” has choreographed for Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, and won awards for his choreography for Will Smith. In addition to these acts there is Salsa dancing, jazz, contemporary, and more. There will definitely be something for everyone.

DC: Many people don’t know how rich with culture the dance scene is here in Colorado. What would you say to help educate folks about it?

S&K: We would say to look into it! There is more than meets the eye. These days there are countless ways to get information…take the time to look it up. You will be amazed at all the culture Denver has to offer – a hint – some of the most interesting things are somewhat “underground” and spend their time and energy on product not advertising or decorating, so you may need to do some digging!

Here’s a video preview of the Denver Dance Festival: