Paper Bird and Ballet Nouveau Colorado

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Paper Bird and Ballet Nouveau Colorado reunite for Carry On

:: Paper Bird & Ballet Nouveau Colorado ::
:: Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities ::
:: June 11 ::

By Brian F. Johnson

Despite the vast array of textures and depth in the project, the teaming of Paper Bird and Ballet Nouveau Colorado is an image that’s tough to be envisioned in color: The entire project brings with it an aura of a time long-gone when musicians and dancers worked together in dark, dimly lit theaters with no amplification — a world easy to imagine in black and white.

In the early part of the twentieth century, performances like this were the norm in Paris, New York, and in Russia with the Ballets Russes. Ballet wasn’t yet a stodgy institution where only symphonies accompanied dancers. At that time,  shows by local musicians and dancers were the equivalent of going to see your favorite indie band at a Colfax theater.

But, while tradition has moved away from pairings like this, one local group is holding a candle to that bygone era by bringing it back to life.

Three years ago, BNC artistic director and choreographer Garret Ammon noticed the local press that the indie/Americana Denver band Paper Bird was starting to receive, and in so doing, a light bulb (or maybe, in keeping with the old-time theme, an oil lamp) went on above his head that would ultimately turn into the performance Carry On.

“As a choreographer, I’m always searching out new music that inspires me. So I kept hearing about Paper Bird and how they were honoring all of these traditions that came before them in the  music they were playing and I thought, ‘O.K. I have to check these people out.’ It was along the line of every kind of music genre that I liked. So I went out and bought all of their albums and I just fell in love,” Ammon said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “I was afraid they were going to think I was crazy, but I sent them an e-mail and explained to them some thoughts about the possibility of doing something together. Once we decided that we were all down with it, it just blossomed into this incredible project.”

The original idea was to have Paper Bird play existing material in conjunction with the BNC dancers, but as they got into the project, the band soon realized that new material needed to be created. “We came to the conclusion that we should write an entire score for it,” said Paper Bird guitarist Paul DeHaven, in a separate interview with The Marquee. “So this is all new, previously unreleased material. Some of it came from ideas that we had that had been shelved, but this is all orignal for this project.”

DeHaven explained that writing a score for a performance like this is obviously way different than what the seven-piece band is used to. “We just kind of looked at it as an opportunity to create textures and create variety of rhythm and varieties of sound,” he said, adding that the seven-piece grew to a nine piece for the performance and that one of those additional musicians will now be a full-time member of the band.

“It’s way beyond my wildest dreams, what they did as musicians. They dared to go beyond what they normally do. It’s still them, but it’s a deeper, richer, more complex version of them,” Ammon said.

Paper Bird and BNC debuted their show Carry On earlier this year over six performances, to rave reviews. Those shows were recorded by Kevin Harbison and mixed by Jeremy Averitt, and the result is now a new CD with the entire score, culled from those nights. “It’s all live, every track is from the nights of the shows and there was no over-dubbing or anything like that,” DeHaven said.

The group and the troop will host a CD release party this month when they present an encore performance of the show. And both the band and BNC are pondering a partnership that will last beyond the initial project. “We all really feel like we just barely got started, and that we’ve just begun to really get to know each other,” Ammon said, adding that they have discussed the possibility of touring with the entire company.

Ammon also added that the entire process of producing this massive undertaking has been sheer joy, as a creator of art. “I really felt that I was just along for the ride. The art was just coming into existence and I just felt privileged to be there and to kind of be responsible for nudging it and guiding it forward, rather than trying to pull it into existence.”

 

:: Paper Bird & Ballet Nouveau Colorado ::

:: Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities ::

:: June 11 ::

 

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