Breckenridge International Arts Festival returns to town after pandemic hiatus

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The modern dance company Pilobolus celebrates its 50th anniversary of touring with shows around the world. Yet unlike regular traveling shows that last a day or two, he will remain in residence for 10 days for the Breckenridge International Arts Festival.
Ben McKeown/Pilobolus

The wait is over. The Breckenridge International Arts Festival returns for the first time since 2019. The 10-day Breckenridge Creative Arts Festival runs from Friday August 12 through Sunday August 21 and includes multiple mediums such as music, dance and sculpture. which address the general themes of the environment and life in the mountains.

Free and paid shows, exhibits, workshops and more are planned for indoor and outdoor venues in Breckenridge. The Old Masonic Hall, 136 S. Main St., will be a hub with free art. It features kinetic “mirrors” made of wood and other materials called “Reflections” by New York artist Daniel Rozin. Showing daily until September 4, the work uses a camera to capture the likeness of people.

“Altered Land” by clay artist and geologist Steve Hilton, is on view daily through August 28. The piece uses unfired clay pebbles to tell a story about Breckenridge’s mining history. Visitors are encouraged to interact with it and roll the marbles through the artwork in progress.



Just outside on Ride Street Plaza on the Arts District campus is a daily creative gathering place that will host demonstrations and artist talks. for all ages. It includes a work space for valuable plastic initiative where people can hand in clean, label-free plastics Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 which will then be transformed into art.

Located throughout Breckenridge for the duration of the festival is “We Are the Asteroid», a series of LED highway billboards with environmental messages by artist Justin Brice. Art also intersects with nature in the returning Trail Mix series. Calder Kamin’s “Once Upon a Time in the Future” unicorn sculpture made from recycled plastic is at Moonstone Trail and Ben Roth’s “Daddy Long Legs” is on the Iowa Hill Trail. Beethoven’s Last String Quartets, slowed down by the Tank Center for Sonic Arts, will play from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 16 through Thursday, August 18, at Illinois Creek Trail.



One way to see all the art is to take the Main Street Trolley or the Breck Free Ride Gray Route. The buses will have local singer-songwriters: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily for the trolley, and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday for the gray route.

As for transportation, families are invited to skate, jog, or hop onto the Arts District campus for an outdoor screening of “Mia and the Migoo” on the AirStage at 6 p.m. Sunday, August 21. . The event is free but requires advanced knowledge. registration and encourages a $10 donation.

Alongside the arts festival is the Revolution Music Series, formerly known as the Breckenridge Music Festival. Artistic Director Steven Schick and musicians from the National Repertory Orchestra return for a variety of concerts. The series begins at 6 p.m. Friday, August 12 at the Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., and features one of Rozin’s wooden mirrors on stage. While this event is free with a suggested donation of $50 per party, other mirror-centric performances are set for 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the Riverwalk for $10. These tickets include a serving of beer or wine and participants must be over 21 years old.

For something a little softer, a sound meditation will be offered at 8 a.m. on Sunday, August 14 at the Riverwalk. The class introduces Schick on percussion and offers a $10 donation. Then another orchestra concert will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday August 17, with works by composers such as Stravinsky and Debussy.

Connecticut-based Pilobolus is known for a variety of dance styles, but particularly for his work with shadows. His performances are just one aspect of the return of the Breckenridge International Arts Festival, which also features sculptures, live music and more.
John Kane/Pilobolus

50 years of dance

Closing the Revolution Music Series is a performance at 6 p.m. on Friday August 19, which features the dance company Pilobolus. However, Pilobolus is actually in residence for the entire festival, bringing their modern dance formats to audiences in various ways.

The group celebrates its 50th anniversarye anniversary. It was formed when a cross-country skier, fencer and pole vaulter from different disciplines took a dance class at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1971. The name comes from a phototropic fungus that spreads its spores at rapid speed, clinging to whatever it lands on. .

According to Renée Jaworski, one of Pilobolus’ two artistic directors, the company has stuck to the Northeast, especially rural Connecticut, because dancers can connect with nature, explore trails, and take things at a pace. slower than a busier city can demand.

But that doesn’t mean Pilobolus doesn’t creatively push the boundaries. Jaworski said one of the reasons for their longevity is their ability to adapt like the fungus of the same name, which is known to survive animal digestion and find light.

She said they had principles and styles, but were willing to pivot and explore, whether it was sticking in the trunk of a car, creating art of the shadow or, their most recent effort, to work with Native American storyteller Darlene Kascak of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

“In the same way, we are constantly looking for light, for new ideas,” Jaworski said. “We lean, twist and lean, read new things and think new things with new people.”

Over the years, Pilobolus has performed all over the world and in places such as the Oscars, the Olympics, the Parthenon. The company has also produced digital works, such as the music video for OK Go’s song “All Is Not Lost”. their cars.

Breckenridge audiences can first see the work of Pilobolus on Friday August 12 and Saturday August 13, with his Umbrella project. The interactive event invites people to use light-up umbrellas on the Riverwalk lawn to create shapes which are then projected onto a screen. The lawn will also host four free-flow workshops. Participants of all ages and experience levels can learn how to improve their balance and fitness or how to spell the alphabet with their bodies.

When Pilobolus performs for the Revolution Music Series, it will be to local music by Leon Joseph Littlebird. Schick actually commissioned Littlebird to write for the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus — of which Schick serves as musical director — but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the premiere. Titled “When Echoes Speak,” the composition is a 13-minute piece that takes ideas from three of Littlebird’s songs and features him playing four different flutes, as well as ancient instruments like bone whistles and rattles.

“He came out so beautiful,” said Littlebird, adding that he hopes to play him in other cities. “Just rehearsing for it has been a joy. It’s a musical dream come true for me. It’s really a high point for my career.

Finally, to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, Pilobolus will perform their “BIG FIVE-OH!show at the Riverwalk Center on Saturday, August 20. It will be similar to other touring productions in that it highlights some routines from the decades, but there is also a new element.

In collaboration with Kascak, Pilobolus has created a new piece called “Ballad” which tells the story of his life, his hope and the Native American myth. Breckenridge’s show will be his second touring performance and Jaworski, who has been with the company since 2000, is pleased to share new work.

“After three years of not being able to create a piece for the stage due to COVID, this is the very first for us, so we’re very excited about it,” Jaworski said.

Local musician Leon Joseph Littlebird will see his music come to life in the Revolution Music Series with the National Repertory Orchestra and choreography by dance company Pilobolus. The musical series runs concurrently with the Breckenridge International Arts Festival.
Tom Fricke/Courtesy Photo

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