By Tess Wisher
Special to The PREVIEW
Denver’s nationally acclaimed Zikr Dance Ensemble will present its critically acclaimed 2018 program “Runes” at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and are available through the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts box office at 731-7469 or online at pagosacenter.org. Tickets will also be available at the door.
The Zikr Dance Ensemble offers a spectrum of works that are based on dance rituals from many different ancient world cultures throughout history along with original and contemporary dance/theater realizations.
Artistic Director David Taylor’s company has been met with consistent rave reviews and standing ovations throughout Colorado and the United States over the past 10 years, and Taylor’s original work has been lauded as “breathtaking and stunning,” with his most recent premiere during the company’s 2018 season, “Runes,” being hailed as “a masterpiece.”
The Zikr Dance Ensemble’s presentation of both rare, historic and multicultural dances, which include works from the Gurdjieff sacred movement repertoire, along with original contemporary works, seeks to enhance the appreciation for the unity of the human spirit and provide a unique artistic experience of the many ways that diverse spiritual and cultural traditions express creativity and wonder through dance.
The Zikr Dance Ensemble’s singular artistic focus makes it totally unique among professional dance companies in the United States, and the company’s outstanding company members are some of the finest ballet-trained professionals in the nation.
“Runes” is also the title of the company’s critically acclaimed world premiere, which has as its focus the ancient magical northern European alphabet as it was used in its symbolic form for divination and prophecy. This stunning new work features the use of a cyr wheel along with a breathtaking set of monolithic structures.
Also on the program is a major new work created by guest choreographer and internationally acclaimed Persian dance master Shahrzad Khorsandi titled “Atash” (“fire” in Farsi). This beautiful piece was created especially for the Zikr Dance Ensemble’s female dancers and features an original score performed on authentic Persian instruments by Denver’s Farabi Ensemble.
The program will also include one of the most intriguing and historic samples of the Gurdjieff Sacred Movements, a 2,000-year-old work titled “The Assyrian Women Mourners,” along with the Zikr Dance Ensemble’s signature work and audience favorite, “In Your Eyes.”
Taylor has been professionally involved in the Colorado dance community for the past 48 years. During the course of a 12-year dance career, he began choreographing in 1976 and, since then, has created over 100 original works.
In 1979, he founded the David Taylor Dance Theatre, which for 32 years was recognized as one of the Rocky Mountain region’s most acclaimed dance organizations, and Denver’s original contemporary ballet company.
Taylor has received three National Endowment for the Arts grant awards along with the city and county of Denver’s first Individual Artist Fellowship award for dance, and in March of 1997, he and his company were proud recipients of Colorado’s Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
He has been commissioned to create ballets for Opera Colorado, the Colorado Symphony, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Museum of Outdoor Arts and the Up Close and Musical Ensemble, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Colorado Wind Ensemble, and for the Dayton Ballet in Ohio. He has also staged works for the Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, the Lone Star Ballet of Amarillo, Texas, and for the Canyon Concert Ballet in Fort Collins. His original and innovative productions of “The Nutcracker” and “Rainforest” garnered national critical recognition and for 20 years were booked extensively across the United States. Taylor has additionally served as a board member for the Mayor’s Commission on Cultural Affairs, as the vice president for the Colorado Dance Alliance, as a peer panel member for the Colorado Council on the Arts and, in 2008, he received the Carson-Brierly Dance Library’s prestigious “Living Legends of Dance” Award.
Currently, Taylor serves as the artistic director and upper-level ballet program faculty member for Denver Ballet Theatre, a Vaganova-based preprofessional ballet academy in Centennial, Colo., where he teaches ballet technique, pas de deux, pointe, variations and dance history. His extensive background also includes a longtime involvement with metaphysical studies, sacred dance and ritual.
In 2009, he founded the Zikr Dance Ensemble, a unique professional company that has its singular focus, dance, as a medium for spiritual expression and atonement.
By Tess Wisher