In 2007, Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fay moved to Colorado to take the helm of a small professional ballet company in the suburbs of Denver. Under their guidance, the company, then known as Ballet Nouveau Colorado, was transformed into a rostrum for the creation and presentation of new choreography and the nurturing of contemporary dance artists.
Ammon and Fay started from scratch with the company’s performance repertoire, creating all new work that respected the past but embraced the future. With a commitment to dance that was both artistically rich and highly accessible, the organization’s vision filled an important void in the region’s dance offerings and captured the imagination of a new and enthusiastic audience.
By creating shows to rock and pop music, integrating multimedia technology, and embracing social media in creative ways, the organization garnered a lot of attention both locally and nationally, including being named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2009.
As Ammon familiarized himself with the Denver arts scene, he began developing productions with the area’s diverse range of artists. In the following years, multi-medium collaborations would come to define the dance company as it took remarkable journeys with writers from Lighthouse Writers Workshop, musicians like Paper Bird and Jesse Manley, visual artists from RedLine, and photographers like Mark Sink and Kristen Hatgi Sink.
Over the course of five years, the artistic vision of Ammon and Fay helped to define the company as a creative leader in the state of Colorado. By collaborating with artists across a spectrum of mediums, the company created transformative experiences that upended notions about how dance can be created and shared in the community.
Though the dance company was succeeding artistically, the organization was built on a twentieth century nonprofit model that was out of step with the new economy. In 2012, Ammon and Fay embarked on a nine-month assessment and development process with Bonfils-Stanton Foundation to discover new solutions for the organization’s longterm sustainability, impact and growth.
From ground up, they began re-imagining the structures that support the company’s work. Out of this process grew a new and daring vision that would free the company to blossom into its full potential and new brand that could capture its essence. In December of 2012, Wonderbound was introduced to the world.
In March 2013, less than one year after the development process with Bonfils-Stanton Foundation began, Wonderbound made the move to a 1920’s United States Post Office Garage at the confluence of Denver’s Arapahoe Square, Ballpark, Curtis Park, Five Points and RiNo Neighborhoods.
Wonderbound’s move captured the imagination of the community, opened new avenues of opportunity and was celebrated as a daring organizational and artistic move. In an economic and social climate that was inhospitable to traditional performing arts models, Wonderbound’s vision for the future shined bright—two months after relocating, Wonderbound was awarded a $250,000 ArtPlace America Creative Placemaking grant.
Wonderbound had been reborn as an American dance company living at the convergence of tradition and innovation, vulnerability and courage, and intimacy and openness. The organization’s multi-talented artists embraced these paradoxical ideals and their capacity, creativity and daring rose to new heights. They reveled in the idea that Wonderbound was forging a new path and building a new model for how the performing arts could be created, supported and shared in a rapidly evolving world.
In September 2018, Wonderbound made its next big move. Through the support of Denver philanthropists Brooke and Tom Gordon, the organization moved to 2535 East 40th Avenue, a property at the intersection of Denver’s Elyria-Swansea, Clayton, and Cole neighborhoods. In the coming years, Wonderbound’s permanent home will be built at this up-and-coming location.
This undertaking will solidify Wonderbound as an important and enduring institution in Denver’s arts community. It will allow the organization to dream bigger and serve the community more fully. And it will open the door to Wonderbound being recognized as one of the nation’s most important performing arts organizations.