Longform

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

part 4 of 4

Best Real-Life Adventure for Grown-Ups
Inner Reality
After all the hype about last year's "summer of violence," Dave Stalls, former recreation director for the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, decided it was time for a reality check. Specifically, an Inner Reality check, Stalls's invaluable, adult-oriented inner-city variation on the Outward Bound theme. The paid tour guides are "streetwise" kids from the neighborhoods--some of them former gang members, some runaways--and the itinerary changes monthly to keep the 24-hour trek "as fresh and as real as possible," Stalls says. One recent trip had participants boarding the 15L bus on Colfax and heading into the heart of Aurora's gang turf, then moving on to the Gilliam Youth Center for dinner before bedding down in the neighborhood--and they all gladly paid $150 for the privilege. After all, truth is the best defense.

Best Dance Showcase
Colorado Dance Festival
Now entering its twelfth year, the Colorado Dance Festival brings major dance companies to Boulder for a concentrated month of culture filled with performances, workshops and, beginning this year, a collaborative project linking local teenagers with guest artists. In the process, you get a taste of what folks take for granted in New York City--and you get it with a mountain view.

Best Inner City Dance Venue
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre
119 Park Ave. W.

Cleo's roost is one of the hottest beds of physical creativity going and it's made all the more charming by its location in the old Shorter A.M.E. Church building on Park Avenue West. The resident troupe graces the old neighborhood with several performances a year, while the dance school sets young artists into motion. And the excitement doesn't stop there; last year, the venue brought modern dance grande dame Katherine Dunham to town, and this year Robinson and crew are collaborating with vibraphonist Jay Hoggard in a piece to be performed at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Best Outer City Dance Venue
Space for Dance
2590 Walnut St., Boulder

The Space for Dance was once the Watts-Hardy Dairy, but this former home of four-legged hoofers has since been transformed into a spacious, airy place where local dance troupes of the two-legged variety can put their best feet forward. They may not bottle milk anymore at the facility, but the cream still rises to the top.

Best Place to Do-si-do
Temple Events Center
1595 Pearl St.

Good, clean fun is alive and well at the Old Time Community Dances held at the Temple Events Center on the second and fourth Friday of each month. If the idea of a Capitol Hill hoedown strikes your fancy, this is the place to find it--no experience is necessary and a fiddle band keeps things lively, while a caller teaches the steps, most of which are related to New England-style contra dancing. All ages are welcome to swing their partners, peel off and promenade into the night.

Best Local Theater Production
Black Elk Speaks
Denver Center Theatre Company

Black Elk Speaks was a genuine contribution to the literature of the American theater. Politically correct and proud of it but also substantial, the beautiful play gave the history of contact between Native Americans and European-Americans from Columbus to the mid-twentieth century from the Indians' perspective. Tragic as that history has often been, the play leaves the viewer with a shred of hope.

Readers' choice: Black Elk Speaks

Best Production of a Bad Play
Baltimore Waltz
Victorian Theater

Despite a "disease-of-the-week" writing level, the performances and staging in Baltimore Waltz stood out valiantly. Jeremy Cole's direction was especially inventive and witty as he pulled out all the stops with inspired hilarity. Cole gambles with the shows he produces and he always seems to win--he likes the risks, and he maneuvers through them brilliantly.

Best Performance by a Ghost
Pam Clifton
Rebecca
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

Witty, engaging and intelligent, Pam Clifton's Rebecca, a one-woman history performance piece for kids presented at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, was first-class interactive children's theater. Clifton was anything but transparent, and nary a boo was heard from the young audience.

Best Production of a Dysfunctional Family Drama
A Breeze From the Gulf
Theatre on Broadway

The excellent performances from Darrett Sanders, Erin Hart and Arthur Payton in A Breeze From the Gulf shed light on abuse--of the substance, spousal and child varieties. Terry Dodd is a master at bringing out nuances of character, but here his sensitive direction produced a transcendent experience. Dodd avoided waxing sentimental without undermining revelatory feeling.

Best Theater Company Season
Industrial Arts
Our Town and The Elephant Man were standouts and Rashomon brought the season to a worthy conclusion. Industrial Arts uses its intimate space at the Loft Theatre with a brilliant ingenuity--on a small stage, the company creates whole worlds out of thin air.

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