Artistic inspiration struck at the ski resort. It was in the big outdoors that Kelsey Trottier and Claire Beard first pondered a big idea: collaborating on a wintertime performance for the Telluride community.
“It started with a chat on a chairlift,” Beard recalled, “and it went from there.”
Big outdoors, a big idea — and also, potentially, a big problem: there were precious few places in town that could potentially serve as a venue for what Beard, the executive director of the Telluride Chamber Music Association, and Trottier (executive director of Telluride Dance Collective) had in mind: a collaborative performance not only of two organizations, but of musicians and dancers on the same, shared stage.
Just one place would do, and that is exactly where the performance will take place Sunday evening: on the 3,332-square-foot stage of the Michael D. Palm Theatre.
“We could not do this without (partnering organization) Palm Arts’ support,” Trottier said.
Sunday marks the second consecutive performance of “Sustenance,” as the show is called.
“We’ll have a similar format to last year, with all-new content,” Trottier said.
Its title suggests warmth, nourishment, collaboration — a feast for body and spirit. Artists across all disciplines “feel a common need to create, to channel our creativity, to come together to share experiences,” Trottier explained. “It’s what sustains the creative spirit, and what gives us sustenance.”
Which was precisely what was not happening when Trottier and Beard first breached the topic on that chairlift ride.
“‘Sustenance’ was born from a place where, as performing artists, we were all really craving this nourishment of the creative community, after a few hard years of COVID shutting down the performing arts,” Trottier recalled.
“We lost the outlet of the creative arts for a couple of years,” Beard added. “We thought about what that means to the human spirit, and how the vitality and emotional release that comes with being a performer or an audience member is so important.”
All will find artistic sustenance on stage Sunday, as 13 dancers and 11 musicians come together, in various combinations, to perform a dance repertoire encompassing “many genres,” Beard said, and many types of music: from tango and flamenco, to Celtic folk, classical and more. Two new compositions have been commissioned, by pianist Travis Fisher and violinist Danny DeSantis, and will be performed specifically for the show.
“We think there’ll be a piece of music, or a style of dance, that will appeal to everyone,” Beard said. “To anyone who attended ‘Sustenance’ last year, you can expect something similar, but different: We’ve honed in on what really worked” at last year’s performance, “and I think we’ve created something even more exciting. To anyone who hasn’t been before, you’ll have a blast.”
Safe to say, the performers should be particularly inspired: it is rare to have musicians (who are typically relegated to an orchestra pit) share the stage with dancers. The set up “is quite unusual,” Beard said, who will play the flute onstage Sunday evening.
“I would say the combination really adds something creatively: As musicians, we’re used to interpreting notes on the page, but to see the dancer embody that in in a physical form” adds an additional layer to the performance “that is quite special.”
The choice not only of where to host this event, but when, was deliberate, Trottier added. “There are so many big events this season, and we wanted to make sure this didn’t overlap” with anything else taking place in the community simultaneously.
The other advantage to offering “Sustenance” in the depths of winter, said Trottier — who will dance with other members of the company Sunday night — “is that it feels warming to have people gather to celebrate the traditions of live performance, when days feel so short, dark and cold.”
Telluride Chamber Music Association, Telluride Dance Collective and Palm Arts present “Sustenance,” an “eclectic” evening of live music and dance, Sunday at the Palm Theatre. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the performance begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale at telluridepalm.com.
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