Wonderbound's 'Dust' is anything but dry

Dance, theater, music join forces for new production

“Integrating our artistic companies and redefining the limits of our collective art forms is an essential part of what makes the Dust collaboration so exciting,” said Dee Covington of Curious Theatre Company, who has written a script for Dust, a combination dance, theater and music production that will appear at three venues in April: Performing Arts Complex at Pinnacle Charter School, Federal Heights; PACE Center, Parker; and Newman Center for the Performing Arts, Denver.

The project was initiated by choreographer Garrett Ammon, Artistic Director of Wonderbound Contemporary Ballet Company, who makes a practice of collaborating with other artists and has worked with these pros in the past. The production features all new music from Jesse Manley and His Band.

“Dancers will act, actors will dance,” said Covington.

She continued: “Dawn (Fay, Ammons' wife/partner), Garrett, Chip (Walton, Curious director) and I sat down together well over a year ago to discuss the possibilities of a collaboration.” Curious had called on Ammons several years ago to help with the staging of “Eurydice,” a poetic retelling of Greek mythology ...

“… We landed on taking a deeper look at Colorado's history with the land during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Naturally, Garrett chose Jesse (Manley) to complement our work because Jesse's creative voice and sound as an artist is so well attuned to this era: Both hauntingly reminiscent of this era and also incredibly progressive—the perfect collaborator and a true complement to the project.

“In this very early conversation, I wrote the phrase 'snake oil salesman' in the margin of my notes…the phrase stuck with me as I began to dig into the possibilities of a Dust Bowl narrative,” Covington continued. “As I learned more about the people living through this apocalyptic time, I was struck by their vulnerability, their loss and their need to keep some kind of faith alive in order to continue to survive.”

Two points of view surfaced: One Biblical and the other leaning toward a “rainmaker” to bring salvation and rain. Each character has to define “What will I do?”

Covington and Garrett are co-directing and he is choreographing the work.

Manley, in his fourth collaboration with Ammons, said he grew up in Oklahoma, “exploring the experiences of those who lived through the Dust Bowl and intrigued by the music that is native to that country.” In recent years he has “enjoyed learning more about traditional blues and folk music and I will be drawing on the rich cultural heritage of these musical styles to create a musical soundscape which transports our audiences back in time.”

Covington wanted to write a play that would stand on its own “without the addition of dance so that we had a strong story from which to work, from which to understand character and circumstance. From there, we would add dance, eliminate text or combine the elements any way we saw fit to best serve the story …”

Area dance and theater lovers will look forward to experiencing another original, rewarding production created by these leaders in our local arts community.

If you go:

Dust will be presented by Wonderbound:

7:30 p.m., April 15, 16 and 2 p.m.m April 17. Performing Arts Complex at Pinnacle Charter School. 1001 W. 84th Ave., Federal Heights. Tickets: $22-$50, 303-292-4700, wonderbound.com

 7:30 p.m., April 23 and 2 p.m., April 24. PACE Center. 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker. Tickets: $350$40, 303-805-6800, parkerarts.org

7:30 p.m., April 30. Newman Center for the Performing Arts. 2344 E. Iliff Ave., Denver. Tickets: $29-$57 adults, discounts for seniors/students/groups, (303)871-6200, newmancenterpresents.com

Wonderbound dancers in Garrett Ammon's Dust with Jesse Manley and His Band. Photo by Amanda Tipton. 2016.