Peak Peformances: Summer Festivals Are Springing Up All over the Rockies

By Finnegan, Lora J.; Repanshek, Kurt et al. | Sunset, May 1998 | Go to article overview

Peak Peformances: Summer Festivals Are Springing Up All over the Rockies


Finnegan, Lora J., Repanshek, Kurt, Kaye, Susan, Fanselow, Julie, Sunset


Ski towns in the Rockies are spending the summers marrying their spectacular natural settings with some of the finest music, dance, and drama festivals in the West. The events bring to these tiny mountain towns all the great cultural offerings you find at larger resorts - generally without the crowds. And while you should book your festival event tickets in advance, making lodging reservations is likely to be a snap - summer is the easiest and cheapest season to reserve a room in a ski town.

TUTUS IN TELLURIDE

In the Colorado town of Telluride, a temporary dance floor has been set up in front of the climbing wall in the high school gym. The slap of ballet slippers against wood flooring is backed by the wailing music from the artist formerly known as Prince. Gerald Arpino, co-founder and artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, is exhorting his dancers through this modern ballet like a mother hen on steroids. "This work is simple and pure. You have to define it with clarity. Watch Jenny," he instructs, waving his hand at one ballerina, "the arch in her back. This girl gets it."

At rehearsals like these, local dancers and fans visit, ask questions, and watch how a work comes together. "For a little town like Telluride, it takes a lot of local support to bring a company like the Joffrey out from Chicago for a summer residency," Arpino explains, "and opening our rehearsals is a way of giving back to the community. We hope we can become to Telluride what New York City Ballet is to Saratoga - a world-class company in residency."

If the Joffrey loves Telluride, the feeling is mutual. "A leather-jacketed guy roared up beside me on a motorcycle the other day and said simply, 'Great show.' I loved it!" Arpino recalls with a laugh.

The Joffrey performs in Telluride July 20-August 16. For tickets ($35-$45) and more information, call (888) 3558743. New this year is the Children's Outreach program, which includes free performances. - Lora J. Finnegan

MOOSE, CANNONS, AND MUSIC IN DEER VALLEY

Some aspects of an open-air concert in the mountains just can't be replicated in a concert hall. As we lay out our blanket on the hillside at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, we're interrupted by the arrival of a moose, which strolls from the surrounding forest and moseys about the growing audience.

The concert series, which this year features stars such as Crystal Gayle, Arlo Guthrie, and Roger Williams, and ends with a rendition of the 1812 Overture (complete with live cannonry), is a social event, too. Folks "tailgate" with friends on the hillside before the show, bringing coolers stocked with food (the resort also rents lawn chairs and sells gourmet picnic baskets).

Reserved seating is available, but we showed up a half-hour before the 7:30 P.M. show and found a spot that afforded a great view as well as great sound.

Concerts are held at Deer Valley Resort most Saturdays in July and August. For tickets ($19 and $35 reserved seats) and more information, call the Utah Symphony; (801) 533-640 7.

- Kurt Repanshek

THEATER ALFRESCO IN ASPEN

There's nothing unusual about passing out throat lozenges to theatergoers. But blankets? Well, when you consider the setting - Aspen Theatre in the Park, at 8,000 feet above sea level - it's a thoughtful gesture.

Performing in its 16th season this summer, the theater is producing four plays (one for kids) to run in repertory. "So that visitors can take in all four plays in a week, we change sets, lighting, props, and costumes every other day," says executive director Tammie Dauson. "Since most plays are given 18 times, our crew and designers have the stamina of athletes. …

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