It's no easy task to open a planetary cultural dialogue in landlocked Denver, a place where members of an already strong arts community are fiercely, and perhaps rightly, protective of their own. But Patrick Mueller of the dance and movement ensemble Control Group Productions thinks a more continental mindset might infuse the scene with fresh perspectives, without ignoring what's already here.
Beginning tonight, he'll be participating with Canadian dancers Eve Garnier and Martin Bélanger in Direct from Montreal: International Dance at work | space Denver, a cultural exchange he says has been a long time coming. Funded by a Western States Arts Federation grant, the program, which continues at work | space through Saturday, features three well-developed solo performances by Mueller and the other dancers, and a looser collaborative work-in-progress.
"I feel like the place the Denver arts community is at capitalizes on its internal vibrancy -- it's working on building community," Mueller says. "But to my mind, the one thing lacking in Denver more than anything is the global dialogue, but it's changing. It's different from the mentality of the `80s and `90s that was about exporting everything from the coasts, which dictated what high culture should be. For us, the dialogue is actually happening on stage, and it's not simply that we're bringing in excellent performers. We're starting a dialogue where Colorado and local artists are participating together."
The fun in it, then, comes through experimentation during the Montreal artists' residency at work | space. "The project started out with one of the two performers from Montreal -- her solo deals with the malleability of geography in a globalizing world, addressing her experiences as citizen of France who worked in Europe and then relocated to Canada. It's based around her experience in getting visas and residencies and dealing with idiosyncrasies in a new world where cultural traditions are not as divided from one culture to another as they are in Europe."
And, he adds, things really start to percolate when they all work together: "We're latching into the local culture for this trio, which is the culmination of several years of phone conversations." And as for the solos, all developed individually in various parts of the world, he adds, "They really hang together in an almost uncanny way, all in different ways. It's like the dancers are taking themselves apart as they put themselves together."
For a taste of what's to come, check out the video clips below:
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