A troupe that combines athleticism, ballet movements and gymnastics comes to Telluride Sunday, Jan. 20, when the acrobatic dance company Diavolo takes the stage at the Palm. Diavolo, which takes its name, in part, from the Greek word dia (meaning across, or from point to point) and the Latin word volo (for “I fly”), was founded in 1992 by Jacques Heim, a recent Cal Arts graduate with a degree in architecture. The troupe has worked out of Los Angeles ever since. Heims drew on his architecture background for the oversized forms the troupe as for backdrops; Diavolo uses stairs, sofas, doors and other everyday items as set pieces, as well. The troupe is composed of ballet dancers, gymnasts, rock climbers and actors who collaborate on their movements. At the Palm, Diavolo will perform “Fearful Symmetries,” one of a trilogy of pieces commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to premiere with the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, and “Transit Space,” a new work inspired by the movements of skateboarding. “Complete trust” is at the core of what Diavolo does, Heim has said. “Building a team that allows for [it] has been essential to creating a kind of work where dancers are inspired to take serious risks.” A critic for The Los Angeles Times noted, “to call Diavolo exciting would be redundant.” Tickets at the door are $41 for adults, and $23 for students and children. For more information, visit telluridepalm.com.
Movies in Telluride and Montrose
Also in Telluride, a film worth noting this week, and another in Montrose. Admittance to both are free. In Montrose, the short film Viva La Vie is about the journey of American climber Jonathan Siegrist who heads to France and teams up with Swiss luminary Nina “La Machina” Caprez to climb the hardest routes on the limestone crags of the Verdon Gorge (the birthplace of sport climbing). It was recently chosen for the 2013 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, and is the first in an occasional series of adventure films which will screen at Two Rascals Brewery. The film screens Wednesday at 7 p.m. In Telluride, filmmaker/activist Byron Hurt’s latest, Soul Food Junkies, which he calls “an investigation into the dark side of the food industry and the food justice system born in its wake,” plays at the Montrose Library Monday at 7 p.m., and the Wilkinson on Wednesday. SFJ concerns Hurt’s puzzlement as he watches his dad continue to devour junk food in the midst of a health crisis, and his exploration of the history of soul food and its relevance to black cultural identity. This is the second film Hurt has screened for the PBS series Independent Lens. The first was the thoughtful Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and in which Hurt questioned the impact of hip hop and rap lyrics on the wider culture – particularly his own. A former “fanatical hip-hop head,” Hurt, who played football at Northeastern University, has said his views began to change after he worked in a program teaching male athletes about violence against women. “Here’s the conflict,” he said. “You still love hip-hop and you love to see the artists doing well, but then you ask, ‘What are they saying? What is the image of manhood?’”
Expect his take on junk food to be just as searching.
In Montrose and Grand Junction: Celtic Music from FEAST
The popular Western Slope Concert Series – which is to say, the musical Mientka family from Grand Junction – returns to the region in their latest incarnation tonight, as the Celtic music and dance group FEAST in “Celtic Rhapsody.” Though the Mientkas have been known for their classical and chamber music concerts in Paonia, Grand Junction and Montrose for years, the Celtic variation is what put them on the map, and FEAST shows sell out every year. An inspiration of the late Tyne Mientka, who came up with the idea simply because he wanted to play a concert on his new electric cello with his wife, Kathryn, on her new amplified keyboard, FEAST got its start in 2005. The show was so successful, the Mientkas soon added a pair of percussionists. By 2009, FEAST had morphed into a full-fledged music-and-dance ensemble that played to a packed house at the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction; the Montrose Pavilion; and the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. The show (for this was a mere concert no longer) was filmed by Rocky Mountain PBS.
The Mientkas are down one significant member – patriarch Tyne Mientka passed away last March – but the family continues to perform; they played a chamber music concert at the Pavilion last fall, and recently toured the Midwest in a highly successful concert series, to be continued later this spring. It takes an effort to get them together these days: Gabriel Mientka is studying cello in Germany, and Stephanie is working on her masters degree in music at Rice University in Houston. Rosemarie, the youngest Mientka, is in training with the Nashville Ballet. As FEAST, along with Kathryn Mientka on keyboards as well as violinists, percussionists and a bass cellist, they’ll perform an energetic mix of Irish melodies as well as slower, more traditional tunes such as “The Last Rose of Summer” and “Dulaman.” No matter how high-spirited the music gets, the family’s classical roots never really leave them. “We tend to mix genres,” Gabriel said. Two members of the Denver troupe Strictly Irish, alums of Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance” ensemble, will dance at Saturday’s performance. It’s the family’s first, big FEAST show completely without their leader. “We were thinking part of it would be a tribute to our father,” Gabe said. Rosie, who rarely appears with FEAST, will perform Saint-Saens’ elegiac “The Swan” in Tyne Mientka’s honor, and Gabe will play the cello in place of his dad. “It was one of his dreams to see us perform in a big concert like this,” he said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.” The show is at the Pavilion on Thursday, and the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction Friday and Saturday nights. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at junctionconcerts.com or at the door.