The main stage of the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins was lit up Tuesday night with glittering costumes and festive music as Dance Express put on a variety of performances to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
The soft falling snow and abundance of Christmas lights set the perfect tone for a night of holiday entertainment put on by Dance Express, an inclusive dance company for persons with and without disabilities located here in Fort Collins.
“Primarily our dancers have Down’s syndrome, and because my sister Theresa has Down’s, that’s how I found this dance company”, says Mary Elizabeth Lenahan, artistic and executive director for Dance Express. “We’ve been established since 1989, and it gives everyone a chance to express themselves creatively, create camaraderie and a sense of community.”
Lenahan opened the show with thanks to the many supporters of the show’s success and a letter from Senator John Kefalas.
“Dance Express has delighted our community with creative and joyful performances that remind us of our common humanity,” the letter from Kefalas reads. “I am glad Dance Express has received a Colorado Creative Industries grant award—a well-deserved recognition of their good works.”
The theme of the Dance Express performances were inspired by music and choreography to embrace the traditional celebration of the winter solstice. Their focused performance was titled “Calling the Sun,” a tale of how the sun went into hiding, and how only a rooster could bring the sun back into the sky. A troupe of ten dancers performed choreography adapted from tales from Hawaii, China and Native America.
Between “Calling the Sun,” and other choreographed numbers, musical group SunnySide Singers sang classic Christmas carols, inviting the audience to sing along. Under a dramatic spotlight, community members recited poems such as “Winter’s Cloak” by Joyce Rupp and “Beannacht: A Blessing for the New Year” by John O’Donohue.
Chrissy Krumm has been with Dance Express 13 and half years. She was excited to have gotten two solos during the winter solstice performance.
“Sometimes there’s a lot of choreographing and pieces you have to remember, though”, Krumms says.
Anika Pounds was excited to have been able to dance with her friends.
“Practicing and performing is just giving hard work, and we did everything we wanted to do” Pounds says. “I don’t get nervous. I usually take deep breaths, listen to music to calm me down, plus I have some friends along the way.”
Dance Express, as well as other community music groups, ushered in the holiday season with a night of festive entertainment.