Perry-Mansfield dance students to perform original choreographed works |

Perry-Mansfield dance students to perform original choreographed works

Dancer Keegan Hill performs in a rehearsal earlier this week at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. This Friday and Saturday, students in the pre-professional intensive camp will host an Evening of Dance on the Perry-Mansfield campus.
John F. Russell

If you go:

What: Perry-Mansfield presents An Evening of Dance

When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16

Where: Perry-Mansfield's Main Studio, 40755 Routt County Road 36

Cost: Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door, although performances could sell out.

If you go:

What: C Street Brass and Perry-Mansfield dance and theatre students perform selections from "West Side Story" and "Porgy and Bess."

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 17

Where: Perry-Mansfield's Main Studio, 40755 Routt County Road 36

Cost: Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door.

— High octane, powerful and intense is how Julliard-trained dance faculty member Erika Pujic describes her original choreographed work, which will be one of six pieces to premiere at this weekend’s Evening of Dance at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.

Her inspiration for “Restless Machine,” the name she’s given her work, evolved from her students’ unique styles and subtle idiosyncrasies as well as the “magic” of the Perry-Mansfield experience, Pujic said.

“It’s very abstract,” said Pujic, who was a founding member and rehearsal director for Robert Battle Battleworks and a guest artist at The Ailey School at Marymount Manhattan School. “I created it here. There’s a history here, and you pull from that. This is such a magical place of inspiration.”

Pujic said her choreography evolved throughout the 12 rehearsals she had with her dance students who are attending Perry-Mansfield’s high school pre-professional program, which ends July 24.

“I like to work with the group and adapt the work to them,” Pujic said. “These students are amazing. They’re hungry; they’re like sponges.”

Her students are dancing to an original composition written by Pujic’s husband, Carl Landa. The two are both faculty members at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and this is Pujic’s third time to serve as a member of the Perry-Mansfield dance faculty.

In addition to Pujic’s original work, the pre-professional dancers will also perform in five other choreographed pieces created by faculty members Christopher Compton, Gabe Williams, Ilana Goldman, Cindy Dufault and Elizabeth George — all nationally recognized members of the professional dance community.

These works represent the culmination of the six weeks the dancers, all high school juniors and seniors, will spend at the historic camp in Strawberry Park just north of Steamboat Springs.

According to Perry-Mansfield Executive Director Nancy Engelken, the dance performances on Friday and Saturday offer a diverse range of concert dance, ballet, modern, contemporary and jazz and will highlight the dancers’ artistic growth.

“It really is this process of creation,” Engelken explained. “Students get to experience that creative development and collaborative process with faculty members. It’s not about certain movements but how they project themselves as a dancer. It’s about creating that complete artist.”

Nicole Falk, a 16-year-old dancer from Vail, said she gained a new perspective about dance from her time at camp, and she can’t wait to demonstrate what’s she learned during the upcoming dance performances.

“It’s about creating work together, rather than standing out,” Falk said. “It’s different dancers coming together and finding a way to piece ourselves together into this performance.”

For 15-year-old dancer Taylor Lopez, from Prescott, Arizona, Perry-Mansfield gave her a new appreciation for working together as a unified group.

“There’s no competition here,” chimed in 15-year-old Taylor Lopez from Prescott, Arizona. “Everyone has the same goals as you, and it’s like one big family. It’s not about dance; it’s about creating art.”

“I think all the pieces are amazing, and they’re all extremely different,” added Keegan Hill, an 18-year-old dance student from Phoenix, Arizona.

In addition to the Evening of Dance performances on Friday and Saturday nights, the dancers will be joining Perry-Mansfield musical theatre students in a special collaboration with C Street Brass and Strings Music Festival on Sunday.

In past years, Strings and Perry-Mansfield dancers have partnered in an annual production performed at the Strings Music Pavilion. This year, the performance will take place at Perry-Mansfield, and for the first time, will involve theater students.

C Street Brass, making a return appearance in Steamboat, was the ensemble in residence at Carnegie Mellon University for three years and is known for providing an innovative concert experience. The group also is collaborating on two of the works that will be performed during the Evening of Dance on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday’s performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Studio, will feature selections from the musicals “Porgy and Bess” and “West Side Story.” Musical theatre students will perform “Something’s Coming,” “Summertime” and “I Feel Pretty,” and dancers will bring the music to life with choreographed original dance numbers created by the camp’s dance faculty.

“It’s a collaboration of dance, theatre and an orchestra,” said Cameron Marter, a theater student from Evergreen. “I get to work with dancers, and I get to work with a full-on orchestra and I get to sing a song from ‘Porgy and Bess.’ It’s all very exciting.”

Tickets for all three performances can be purchased online at

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman

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