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Dancing their way into the future with virtual Steamboat Dance Theatre

Dancer Nicole LeDuc performs at a rehearsal for the 2017 Steamboat Dance Theatre Annual Concert. This year's show will be virtual. (File photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It was January 2020 when Steamboat Dance Theatre held its 48th annual performance — four shows, all sold out, with a record number of participants. Weeks later when COVID-19 hit the country, everything was shut down, and their dancers haven’t performed since.

Finally, over a year and many adjustments later, dancers will return in May for the organization’s 49th annual performance, this time in a virtual format.

“Performing arts have really taken a hit during these times, because we’re not even able to entertain the idea of doing a live event right now,” said Rachel Radetsky, Steamboat Dance Theatre president and co-producer of this year’s annual show.



Typically, the annual performance is one of four shows the nonprofit organization puts on each year. It draws over 2,000 people making it their largest turnout and fundraiser of the year.

In an attempt to re-evaluate its budget and priorities over the past year, the organization surveyed its members to learn more about what was important to them. The answers? The annual concert and their scholarship program.



So Radetsky, along with co-producer Andrea Kortas and artistic director Scott Goodhart, got to work to ensure the 49th annual show would go on.

This year’s theme is MTV Music Videos. Small groups of dancers — generally five or six, when past dances have included up to 35 dancers — prerecorded music videos at different locations throughout town, which will then be livestreamed to the public during a one-night-only event May 15.

Gina Toothaker, both a choreographer and dancer, has been with Steamboat Dance Theatre for 35 years.

If you go

What: Livestream of 49th annual Steamboat Dance Theatre Concert

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15

Tickets: $25 per person, $50 per household

For more information and sponsorship opportunities visit steamboatdancetheatre.org

“It’s very different this year, but we’re very grateful that we got to have a show at all,” Toothaker said. “We were all really missing dance in the midst of quarantines and lockdowns. Dance has saved some of us in terms of giving us an outlet.”

Toothaker recounted many virtual rehearsals where the dancers learn the dance individually and then come together via Zoom to ask questions and practice.

“It was very challenging,” she said. “We are all stretching our skills for sure.”

Dancer participation for the annual concert is at 50% of what it typically is; this year, no auditions were held, but anyone who wanted to participate could sign up, with no more than 10 dancers in each dance.

Irish dancers Jenna Kramer, middle, Nicole LeCuyer, left, and Chad McGowen perform at a rehearsal for the 2017 Steamboat Dance Theatre Annual Concert. (File photo by John F. Russell)

“After all the years of putting on the annual concert, we have a process for how we do everything,” Radetsky said. “It’s definitely been shaken up this year, but we are so thankful that our choreographers and dancers have been so adaptable and flexible and are working hard to make this a great event.”

In the end, Executive Director Kristen Jespersen says that it’s about the dancers.

“Our hopes for this concert season were largely that we could offer local community members an opportunity to dance safely,” Jespersen said. “The pandemic has hit so many of us so hard in different ways and dancing and participating in the annual concert — whatever form it may take — offers community members a much-needed creative outlet, time to be social and an opportunity to engage in a community-building activity. We can’t wait to see what the final product looks like.”


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