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Ballet Nouveau Colorado

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Title: Ballet Nouveau Colorado  
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Ballet Nouveau Colorado

Ballet Nouveau Colorado (BNC or Ballet Nouveau), a contemporary ballet company based in Broomfield, Colorado, is the second largest ballet company in the state.[1] BNC operates in three programming areas:

  • The professional contemporary ballet company
  • The School of BNC consisting of 300 students
  • BNC Outreach Program


Ballet Nouveau Colorado was founded in 1992 as a non-profit student performing company and school, providing outreach performances for elementary schools in

Garrison's Departure & Administrative Changes

In December 2009 BNC's Board of Directors made the decision to dismiss Lissy Garrison from her position as executive director, the longest holder of this position till that time.[4] In 1995 Garrison joined BNC as a consultant to the Board of Directors, served as president of the board for two years and became Executive Director in 1999.[5]

BNC never disclosed the circumstances surrounding the firing of Garrison. However since her departure "Ballet Nouveau has changed its administrative structure. Instead of the artistic director being subordinate to the executive director as before, both now report directly to the board and are considered peers."[6]

In the summer of 2010 Garrison's position was filled by Shari Ammon Mills, the sister of the artistic director, Garrett Ammon. On January 12, 2011 BNC appointed Christin Crampton Day, a former Colorado Ballet board member and public relations professional to replace Ammon Mills.[7]


Ballet Nouveau Colorado is a

One of BNC's partnerships has been with local businessman Don Ferguson, who donated time and services to the ballet company for free. Ferguson has provided BNC with about 200 hours a year of his time and has saved the organization an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 a year.[9]

Due in part to profiles in Dance and Pointe magazines, the company is gaining a national reputation, standing alongside Colorado Ballet and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet as a leader in the Rocky Mountain West. However only half of the company's $1 million annual budget goes to professional performances, significantly less than either Colorado Ballet or Aspen Santa Fe.[10]

On July 8, 2010 a message was e-mailed to all of BNC's "patrons, friends, and partners" requesting an additional $198,000 in donations before July 31, 2010. The message, which was also posted on the main page of the company's website warned that without the additional funds the company would need to suspend operations. The letter, signed by artistic director, Garrett Ammon and his sister, the newly appointed executive director, Shari Ammon Mills stated, "We are determined to never find ourselves in this position again. We are diligently working on new strategies and objectives that will enable us to more effectively support and sustain the continued advancement of our school, company and community programs."[11]

Nouveau at Night

Nouveau at Night is an annual fundraising event held by BNC at the start of their professional season each year. It offers a silent auction with pieces ranging from gift certificates, art, and jewelry to classes, wine, and luxury travel packages. Complimentary glasses of Beaujolais Nouveau are available to guests in addition to premiere performances by the professional company and a night of dancing to live music.

Proceeds from the fundraiser support various aspects of the organization, including arts in education partnerships with four Title I elementary schools in North Denver, The Ugly Duckling Anti-Bullying Program, and new performance pieces.

Ballet Nouveau Colorado Day

On November 21, 2008, BNC held its annual fundraiser at the Westin Tabor Center bringing the event to Downtown Denver for the first time. Attendance at the fundraiser reached close to 400 people. On behalf of Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper, the director of the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, Mike Roque proclaimed the day "Ballet Nouveau Colorado Day" in the city and county of Denver. More than 300 items were offered at the silent auction. The fundraiser featured Artistic Director Garrett Ammon's "Mediate", a performance choreographed to INXS music.[12]

The Company

When BNC was founded in 1992 it hired professional dancers only on an "as-needed" basis.[13] In 2002 BNC began to perform professionally maintaining a full-time professional company for the duration of its 25 week session, with only five dancers the first year.[10]

For their 2009-2010 season BNC had 12 professional dancers. During the season the dancers report for a five-day workweek. In addition to rehearsals and performances, company members also participate in outreach programs at local public schools. Some company members also teach classes in the ballet school.[13]


Dancer Hometown Joined BNC
Candice Bergeron Littleton, CO 2011
Ben Delony Baton Rouge, LA 2011
Peter Doll Ithaca, NY 2011
Marian Faustino Manila, Philippines 2011
Colby Foss Fargo, ND 2008
Brooke Frandsen Yuma, AZ 2011
Brandon "Private" Freeman Colorado 2011
Corbin Michael Kalinowski Tucson, AZ 2011
Julie King Pennsylvania 2005
Julia Meng Escondido, CA 2002
Damien Patterson Baltimore, MD 2009
Meredith Strathmeyer Plano, TX 2006
Sarah Tallman Greeley, CO 2004

Artistic Directors

Robert Mills

Robert Mills, two-time National Choreographic Plan Award winner and teacher

Ammon and Fay

Following Robert Mills's departure BNC recruited Ballet Memphis principal dancers and married couple Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fay. Ammon, winner of the Individual Artist Fellowship for choreography in 2007 from the Tennessee Arts Commission stepped into the role of artistic director and his wife, named one of YouTube, video blogs, and other forms of digital media as one method of making the company more modern.

Contemporary Ballet

BNC, as a contemporary ballet company presents performances with modern highlights such as ballet choreographed to rock music, collaborations with poets and music groups and internet driven choreography competitions. "Partly out of financial necessity and partly in keeping with its youthful spirit" the company has also worked to utilize various emerging choreographers[21]

"We Dance, You Vote"

For the 2007-2008 season BNC invited choreographers from around the country to submit their work via BNC posted behind-the-scenes video podcasts throughout the rehearsel process. The finalists were given a commission of $1,500 and the winner was awarded a cash prize and a contract to develop works for BNC."Dancemakers 2.0".

Year First Place Audience Favorite
2008 Ma Cong Heather Maloy
2009 Joshua Blake Carter Joshua Blake Carter

Ballet & Popular Music

At the beginning of BNC's 2007-2008 season the then new artistic director, Garrett Ammon premiered his ballet "Love of My Life," a performance choreographed to the music of Queen. Before joining BNC, Ammon had choreographed a work titled, "Mediate" set to INXS music. On October 31, 2008 BNC premiered its second show of the 2008-2009 season, "Garrett Ammon's Rock Ballets." Accompanied by "Mediate" and "Love of My Life" was the world premiere of "An Occasional Dream," a ballet set to the songs of David Bowie.[24][25] According to Ammon, "Unlike traditional ballets that tell a story, movements in these ballets follow the inspiration of the music".[26]

The 2009-2010 season of BNC featured "POP," a ballet that blends pop music and ballet in the style of Rock Ballets. Ammon was joined by 2008 choreography competition finalist, Alex Ketley and 2009 choreography competition winner, Joshua Blake Carter in creating contemporary works for the season's opener. "POP" consisted of four pieces, three premieres and one revival. Carter's piece, "Nothing is forever, darling" utilized the music of Rufus Wainwright while Ketley's "Kill the Anthem" was a blend of indie rock and electronic featuring music from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Test Icicles, The Knife, and MGMT. Ammon's two pieces included the world premiere of "Bang Bang" a piece choreographed entirely to Nancy Sinatra's music and "and tomorrow came" a piece that originally premiered on April 4, 2008 at BNC and features music by the indie folk artist Joanna Newsome.[21][27]

25 To Watch

The School of BNC

The School of BNC offers two sessions: the 38-week Session that runs from August to May and the Summer Programs including Adult and Interim Classes and a Summer Camp. The ballet training is based on a mixture of the English National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.

Boys Program

The Boys Program focuses on learning men's jumps and turns and strengthening the muscles needed to partner with women dancers.

Pre-School Ballet

This program is for students ages 3 and 4. Students learn basic vocabulary and music skills and focus on building coordination in basic dance steps.


Adults are offered classes in Adult Ballet, Body Conditioning, Pilates, Yoga, and Adult Modern.

Performance opportunities

Throughout the course of the year students enrolled in the school are offered various opportunities for performance.[29]

Professional productions

Students aged 7 and older who meet certain requirements are given the opportunity to audition for roles in the professional company's annual stage production, The Nutcracker. In addition advanced students may be invited by the professional company's artistic director to dance in other productions or to become trainees to the company.

Student Company

The Student Company, established in 1992 is a pre-professional company designed for intermediate and advanced students who have met certain requirements including those required to audition for The Nutcracker. The Student Company has various performance opportunities including an annual spring concert presented to the public at the end of the season. Their schedule includes 20 hours a week of classes and rehearsals.

Young Choreographers' Showcase

The culminating production of the Composition class, the Young Choreographers' Showcase presents student created dance pieces. Students participate in all elements of production, including costume and lighting design.


BNC offers educational outreach programs providing free arts programming to 20,000 residents each year. They develop a year-long partnership with local elementary schools to provide dance education that supports the schools' curricular goals as well as free performances to students. BNC also provides over 1,000 free tickets each season a diverse group of low-income, senior and at-risk individuals.

Year-long Elementary School Partnerships

The various elements of the program are designed to give students multiple dance and movement experiences. These include:

  • Two interactive lecture/demonstrations in their own facility
  • An on-site performance for the entire school that will reinforce concepts from the periods of time discussed in the history presentation
  • Two in-depth residencies designed to enhance and support the school’s specific curricular priorities
  • Two performances where students are bussed to a theatre[30]

Ongoing experiences with Ballet Nouveau Colorado professional artists and teachers encourage students to think more critically about the art they see, be more willing to participate in artistic activities, and learn through non-traditional modalities.[31]

The Ugly-Duckling Anti-Bullying Program

A performance workshop where students and company dancers work together to create lifelike scenarios of everyday school life using discussion and creative choreography.[1] The program utilizes best practices from the anti-bullying field and provides schools with an artistic method of assisting students in creating a caring community. Teachers begin by leading their students in activities provided by BNC that emphasize the concepts of respect, empathy, and teamwork. Students are then bussed to a live performance of "The Ugly Duckling" put on by members of BNC's professional company. The show originally choreographed by Robert Mills as been called, "a delightful romp through 1980’s pop culture" and takes the classic story and presents it in modern times featuring the Ugly Duckling going to school. Following the performance key scenes are re-enacted to show students how one or two brave people can create a caring community and end bullying.[30]


External links

  • BNC Photos on Flickr


  • Ballet Nouveau Colorado's latest offering ambitious, but mixed (Apr. 21 2010)
  • Ballet Nouveau Colorado lunges into the abstract with piece by Lauri Stallings (Apr. 16, 2010)
  • Broomfield-based Ballet Nouveau serving up 'Nutcracker' for holiday treat (Dec. 9, 2009)
  • Ballet Nouveau Colorado has a winner with "Pop." (Oct. 1, 2009)
  • Bowie and Ballet? Why Not? (Oct. 31, 2008)
  • BNC Presents A Winner – Tallman Knocks One Out Of The Park. (Oct. 3, 2008)
  • Ballet Nouveau Colorado Takes Dance To Cyberspace (Mar. 6, 2008)
  • Ballet Nouveau Colorado presents all new “Moulin Rouge” (Feb. 9, 2008)

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