Telluride Dance Collective: “Mass Movement,” 9/18 -19!

Telluride Dance Collective: “Mass Movement,” 9/18 -19!

The Telluride Dance Collective‘s 3rd annual “Mass Movement” takes place September 18 & 19. Doors, 7 p.m.; showtime, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at, $12 for students; $20 adults in advance; $15/$25 at the door.

Telluride Dance Collective’s 3rd annual “Mass Movement”:

The Telluride Dance Collective’s (TDC) 3rd annual fall showcase, “Mass Movement,” is the company’s biggest event of the year. And this year, the performance features 27 local dancers showcasing the work of seven choreographers across a variety of disciplines, including contemporary, ballet, hip hop, and tap. The theme for the show is “Conscious Conversations,” a through-line director Kelsey Trottier believes everyone should easily connect with.

CCASE funding enabled the TDC to bring Edgar L. Page to town, a talented choreographer from the Denver  who then worked with  the local cast for one week on an original piece. Eight of the dancers in “Mass Movement” are scheduled to perform that work,  then travel to Denver in November for an encore with Page’s company.

For the program, Trottier also choreographed and directed a short film titled “We Are Home,” a piece that leveraged TDC’s live performance at Telluride Arts’ Art and Architecture Weekend 2019.

Director team Erika Curry-Elrod and Kelsey Trottier, (credit, Susan Schwab).


Kelsey’s mountain pose.

“I believe dance is for everyone, and that’s really what this, our third show, is all about. There are so many people who tell me every year that ‘Mass Movement’ is the first dance performance they’ve seen, or the first time they’ve performed on stage. This is a show that brings people together, even if they didn’t think dance was for them,” said Trottier.

“The work the whole team puts into our big show each year is truly mind-boggling. Kelsey Trottier has been particularly impressive in the process this year. As director, choreographer, producer, filmmaker, and general Jane of All Trades, she’s the glue. Kelsey is so fiercely committed to growing our dance community. That desire fuels her every decision and it shows,” said company co-founder Danielle Jenkins.

“Getting CCASE funding was amazing because, for years, we’d had this dream of bringing in an outside choreographer. A year ago I took Edgar’s class in Denver and he said he was interested in my dancing with him there. I told him I lived in Telluride and  he replied he’d always wanted to visit. So I suggested we collaborate. Edgar worked so well with our dancers and now we have this really professional piece to add to our show,” adds Erika Curry-Elrod, assistant director, “Mass Movement.”

“After seeing TDC’s first September show (“The Way Between” in 2016), I was so moved. I didn’t realize that dance was more than just movement until that performance. I really felt the story told within the piece and it blew my mind. I always wished I could be in something like that, but not being a dancer I was too scared to try out. When Kelsey invited me I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity,” says Erica Bauer, a first-time participant in TDC, who returned to Telluride to join in the fun.

“I have loved working as a stage manager and one of my favorite shows to work on was the dance recital. I never thought I could dance myself though. That never crossed my mind. When Valerie Madonia started the adult beginner ballet class last year I was so excited. I had no childhood experience, but Valerie is just an amazing teacher. It all started with her. I was really excited when TDC asked us to perform and the experience has been wonderful. I’m excited and not scared – yet. I’m glad the show is at the Palm Theatre because that venue is my comfort zone,” explains Deb Gesmundo, a first-time participant, who is used to being behind the scenes and will have her on-stage debut in Madonia’s latest effort.

“When Kelsey and Erika came to visit and take a dance class from me in Vegas, I told them I wanted to have a piece in their 2019 show. They said: ‘We can make this happen.’ It turns out, the process was a little nerve-racking when we first started out because none of us had never tried choreographing remotely. In the end, it was decided I would send videos of the proposed dance to Erika, who would then teach the dancers. Subsequently we would use video to compare notes and work out details over the phone. In the end, we were able to complemented each other’s skills a lot. What’s more, I think staying involved without being there full-time reflects the Telluride community in a way: there are so many people who think of Telluride as home even if they aren’t actually in residence. As far as my piece, it has been cool to watch its progress from afar and I’m excited to see it all come together on stage. Sure, even now there are things we’re still working out, but there are also moments when I’m like “Wow, we did that!? Bringing life to something that began in your head is really exciting,” explains former Telluride local Ellen Bator.

Katie Shewbridge, “Mass Movement” 2018. Credit, Sarah Scwab.


Dance in Telluride, a brief history:

Valerie Madonia

Dance in Telluride became a thing decades ago, but reached new heights of excellence when prima ballerina Valerie Madonia came to town in the 1990s.

Back in those halcyon days of movement, instigated by Madonia, a nonprofit known as the Telluride Society for the Performing Arts signed a five-year contract with the Joffrey Ballet, Madonia’s alma mater, establishing a summer residency for the internationally acclaimed troupe.

The relationship worked like a beautifully choreographed pas de deux: the Joffrey got to reconstruct old favorites from its repertoire and create new works in an inspiring setting; locals and guests came to anticipate regular dance performances by a company celebrated for its diversity, technical pizzazz, and irrepressible spirit.

At that time, a tent was erected in the Mountain Village each summer to host the Joffrey and soon, performances by other top-tier professional dancers from the Washington Ballet, RhythMEK, MOMIX, and more. The infrastructure and expense required to host the talent was extraordinary, but the commitment of Madonia and the group of dance lovers who gathered around her under the umbrella of Dance in Telluride bore fruit: even recalcitrant husbands and sports-addicted couch potatoes eventually succumbed to the technical panache and sensuous lines of dancers whose hands and feet seemed to articulate scripts of their own.

Then, when Madonia left town to teach at the Colorado Ballet Academy in Denver, Palm Arts Dance took over the programming and brought a spin-off of the esteemed New York City Ballet, BalletCollective, to town for another residency that included other engaging performances.

But until relatively recently, it was “carpetbaggers” en pointe, outsiders not locals, who leveraged the world-renowned natural beauty and quirky vibe of the Telluride region to create new works. That all changed with the Telluride Dance Collective, a company of homies with talent to burn.

Telluride Dance Collective, a brief history:

From “Mass Movement” 2018. Credit Sarah Schwab.


With the help of a grant from Telluride Arts, the TDC was founded in 2016 by directors Danielle Jenkins and Stephanie Osan.

The first September show was a 40-minute original work entitled “The Way Between.” After that launch, TDC entered a partnership with the Palm Theatre, offering classes for adults. With the continued support of Kathy Jepson and Palm Arts Dance, the Telluride Dance Collective has grown into a robust community of local dancers, which has performed over it’s short history at a variety of venues and events including, but not limited to Telluride Theatre productions; TASP’s Blue Party; Mushroom Festival; Telluride Arts’ Art & Architecture Weekend; Mountainfilm (2018); San Miguel Resource Center’s Chocolate Lovers’ Fling; Telluride Gallery of Fine Art; and KOTO’s Lip Sync.

The troupe also made an original short film in 2018 titled “Groundwork.”

Today TDC features a tight group of choreographers, including Madonia, who returned to town and is now also leading a highly selective intensive for emerging young dance talent from around the country. (Stay tuned for more on that program.)

Also, watch for  the work of Ellen Bator (hip hop); Amy Bolte (of the 2018 “Beatles” tap medley); Katie Shewbridge (recognizable from “Mass Movement,” TAB, and Telluride Theatre’s Burlesque); Kelsey Trottier; and guest talent Edgar L. Page.

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