The Zikr Dance Ensemble is back on its toes.
Littleton's transcendental dance company, which explores spirituality by merging ancient and contemporary dance practices from around the world, leapt into its 2021 season with Lifting the Veil, which opened with a preview on April 7. The show officially premieres on April 10 at Littleton's Dance Ballet Theatre Academy and will be livestreamed from Boulder's Dairy Arts Center on April 12 and the Lakewood Cultural Center on April 17 and 18.
Making it through 2020 was not easy for the troupe.
"Like so many other nonprofit performing arts organizations, Zikr had to cancel last year’s season due to the pandemic," says founder and artistic director David Taylor. But with help from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, funded by the penny-on-the-$10 tax that supports cultural nonprofits in the metro area, Zikr managed to stay afloat.
Since the COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out and the state has been easing up on restrictions, Taylor says, launching Lifting the Veil was a no-brainer.
“Motivation has never been an issue with the company,” Taylor says. “We decided last fall that, come what may, we were going forward with our 2021 season plans."
The dancers rehearsed for Lifting the Veil for about five weeks and had to follow COVID-19-related protocols, including getting tested twice a week and wearing masks throughout the entire day. The company disinfected ballet barres daily and would not permit dancers to leave the studio until their rehearsals were finished.
Like all of Zikr's work, Lifting the Veil is rooted in global mythologies and spiritual practices. All of the dances in the program look at the hidden forces directing and assisting humankind. “They are the spiritual forces,” Taylor explains. “The greater masters and other spiritual initiates who work behind the scenes to assist mankind in their spiritual development. There are many places in existence, the physical being only one. Our incarnation into the physical plane is a choice of the soul, in order to learn certain lessons and to grow and progress in consciousness.
“There are spirit entities that are always with us,” he adds. “On a grander, more cosmic scale, the masters and initiates help direct and monitor our own planet’s steps of initiation in accordance with the will of God.”
One performance, "Walking Prayer," includes short, intricate arm movements and formation changes developed by spiritual teacher and philosopher G.I. Gurdjieff. "Parallel & Elevated," on the other hand, deals with two beings who keep a close connection throughout time — one on the physical plane, the other on a spiritual one. Other performances include "Oracle," "Time’s Up," Guides," "Runes" and "Lifting the Veil."
“Travis [Powell] will be developing an animated digital series of visual effects that will complement and be interspersed with slide projections that have been carefully selected for the new work,” Taylor says. “Jeff Rusnak has created some amazing headpieces for Lifting the Veil, along with what can only be described as revolving and tilting slabs, at which five dancers lie at the beginning and end of a work titled 'Oracle.'”
Whether audiences see the show virtually or in person, Taylor hopes they take in the many forms of spiritual unity found in humanity.
Taylor wants people to bask in this: "the beauty, wonder and awe of beautiful dancers, music, images and lights along with the recognition of the spiritual unity of humanity through dance expressions in many forms."
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