ELEVATED | Contemporary Dance, Fabric Art, and Back From the Dead
by Leslie Vreeland
Jan 24, 2013 | 1430 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
'PARALLEL AND ELEVATED' – An abstract work about two beings interacting together, but on different planes of existence, from David Taylor's Zikr dance ensemble. The piece will be performed next Sunday, Feb. 2 at the Wright Opera House. (Courtesy photo)
'PARALLEL AND ELEVATED' – An abstract work about two beings interacting together, but on different planes of existence, from David Taylor's Zikr dance ensemble. The piece will be performed next Sunday, Feb. 2 at the Wright Opera House. (Courtesy photo)

Zikr Dance Troupe in Ouray and Ridgway


To remember. To rehearse. To celebrate. All interpretations of the word zikr, an Islamic term which means the act of cherishing God. Zikr is also the name of choreographer David Taylor’s modern dance ensemble, which he brings to the region for three days next week with the help of the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild and a grant from the Telluride Foundation. Beginning on Friday, the Zikr Dance Troupe will visit the Ouray and Ridgway schools. Come Saturday, the troupe will partner with Weehawken Arts to offer a Master Class for senior students. Finally, on Sunday, they’ll give a performance for the public at the Wright Opera House. 

Though Taylor has worked as a Denver-based choreographer for years, “I had a background in metaphysical work before that,” he said. “I’ve always been fascinated by ritual dance – used more for sacred and transcendent purposes” than entertainment. Taylor choreographed “entertaining” ballet, though ­– his Nutcracker has been performed throughout the U.S. – in his role as founder and choreographer of the David Taylor Dance Theatre, which he led for more than two decades. “I took a break in 2006,” he said. “I taught ballet and did a lot of soul searching. I missed the dance, but I had no more interest in Nutcrackers or American in Paris-es. I decided what would hold the most meaning for me would be dances with spiritual motivations and concepts.”

Thus, Zikr Dance Troupe was born. In Ouray, the troupe will perform excerpts from 8 or 9 dances; all will be fairly brief. The pieces will include portions of Walking Prayer, “very serene and beautiful, and much more complicated to do than it seems.” Zikr will also perform segments of The Assyrian Women’s Mourning Dance, based on a 2,000-year-old ritual which Taylor calls simple yet profound. “We’ve had members of the audience who had no idea what this dance was about break into tears watching it,” he said.

The choreographer will travel with nine of his 14-member troupe to Ouray. The group’s limber movements, and the minimal number of set pieces Taylor uses onstage, means they can comfortably perform almost anywhere, from a cavernous auditorium in Denver to the intimacy of a high-school stage or the Wright. “We’ll make everything just a little smaller” to perform in Ouray County, he said. “We have to be very flexible in this business.”

To get a preview of the troupe onstage, visit zikrdance.com. For more information on Zikr’s weekend in Ouray, visit weehawkenarts.org or ocpag.com.


Fiber Arts and Film in Telluride

Calling all creative fiber artists: the deadline for entering your stitched, felted or quilted creation for Ah Haa’s first juried exhibit based on the fiber arts is drawing nigh. Submissions are due this coming Monday, Jan. 28, but the work needn’t be finished by then. All the Ah Haa School requires on that date is a digital image of what you plan to do. Along with that, please include a description of the piece, its dimensions (the maximum exhibit space is 5’x7’), what it will be made of, how you plan to execute it, and contact information. A jury selection of the pieces will be on Feb. 8; you have until Monday, March 4 to submit your finished work.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What kind of piece should this be, you may wonder. Ah Haa’s answer: as long as it’s made out of fiber, anything. Anything original, that is. “Our one stipulation is that this be entirely your design,” said Ah Haa Curriculum Director Jacey DePriest. There have  been about 50 submissions so far, ranging from garments, dyed scarves, quilts, and wall hangings to bracelets and felted figurine animals. The exhibit is the brainchild of longtime local Kathy Green, who works in dyed silks. “She’s kind of created a network of women who work with fibers in this region,” DePriest said. If practice makes perfect, it is time for a show: “the women have been nurtured by her for two decades.” Artists in San Miguel and Ouray counties are eligible to submit their work. To learn more, email info@ahhaa.org or call 970/728-3886. The show will hang in the school’s main gallery March 7-29.

Finally, for those who deem autumn (and in particular, Halloween) their favorite time of year, the TFF Cinematheque horror-film series The Undead is the gift that keeps on giving, way past the holidays. The latest two installments, classic movies from the 1960s, slither into the Wilkinson Library Monday, Feb. 4. Black Sunday (Italy; 1960) concerns a witch, back from the dead to murder her beautiful descendant (Barbara Steele, horror-film royalty of that era along with Christopher Lee and Vincent Price, in a dual role). A sense of doom infuses every frame, and director Tim Burton has called it one of his favorite films. A reviewer on the Independent Movie Database described the film as having “atmosphere so rich you can taste it.” Night of the Living Dead (USA; 1968), the seminal movie from director George Romero, is an example of what a talented film team can do with a small budget and a simple idea (zombies return from the dead to eat the living; panicked citizens barricade themselves inside a house in an attempt to elude them). As in Black Sunday, a sense of dread prevails. Dead “isn’t scary because of the zombies (although the flesh-eating sequences are still among the greatest and most horrifying horror scenes ever made),” an IMDB reviewer noted. Instead, “it is effective because it all has a feeling of impending doom. It seems hopeless, disturbing, terrifying because of the claustrophobic mood it sets. It’s not the zombies that scare us, it’s the idea of being trapped in a small area with nowhere to go and death itself standing right outside your door. What a brilliant film!” The screening is free, and begins at 5:30 p.m.

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