Ballet Nouveau Colorado

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Ballet Nouveau Colorado
Ballet Nouveau Colorado Logo.jpg
General information
Name Ballet Nouveau Colorado
Year founded 1992
Artistic staff
Artistic Director Garrett Ammon
Official school School of BNC

Ballet Nouveau Colorado (BNC or Ballet Nouveau), a contemporary ballet company based in Broomfield, Colorado, is the second largest ballet company in the state.[1] BNC operates in three programming areas:

  • The professional contemporary ballet company
  • The School of BNC consisting of 300 students
  • BNC Outreach Program


Ballet Nouveau Colorado was founded in 1992 as a non-profit student performing company and school, providing outreach performances for elementary schools in Adams County and Denver's North Metro area. In 2002 BNC transitioned to maintaining a full-time contemporary ballet company.[2] Later in 2002 BNC was honored by the Colorado State House of Representatives with CO House Resolution #02-1009 "for its commitment to bringing arts to the metropolitan region and for providing a wonderful educational haven to individuals who are interested in dance".[3] By 2005 BNC had grown into the second largest ballet company in the State of Colorado. At the start of their 2007-2008 season BNC made a significant adjustment to their marketing campaign and established a widespread presence on the internet including profiles on Facebook and MySpace as well as video postings on YouTube. BNC has never had a permanent home performance venue. The school and offices are based out of their Broomfield location and the company performs in a variety of spaces, taking the position that "wherever there's a stage there can be dance as well."[1]

Garrison's Departure & Administrative Changes[edit]

Former BNC Executive Director Lissy Garrison

In December 2009 BNC's Board of Directors made the decision to dismiss Lissy Garrison from her position as executive director, the longest holder of this position till that time.[4] In 1995 Garrison joined BNC as a consultant to the Board of Directors, served as president of the board for two years and became Executive Director in 1999.[5]

BNC never disclosed the circumstances surrounding the firing of Garrison. However since her departure "Ballet Nouveau has changed its administrative structure. Instead of the artistic director being subordinate to the executive director as before, both now report directly to the board and are considered peers."[6]

In the summer of 2010 Garrison's position was filled by Shari Ammon Mills, the sister of the artistic director, Garrett Ammon. On January 12, 2011 BNC appointed Christin Crampton Day, a former Colorado Ballet board member and public relations professional to replace Ammon Mills.[7]


Nouveau At Night 2007 - Bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau

Ballet Nouveau Colorado is a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts organization and as such is supported by donations, fundraisers, and ticket sales. BNC is also supported in part by the The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District of Adams, Broomfield, and Jefferson Counties and by the Broomfield Community Foundation. Ballet Nouveau earns 60 percent of its revenues from ticket sales and school tuition.[1] BNC also partners with local communities and businesses to assist in fundraising.[8]

One of BNC's partnerships has been with local businessman Don Ferguson, who donated time and services to the ballet company for free. Ferguson has provided BNC with about 200 hours a year of his time and has saved the organization an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 a year.[9]

Due in part to profiles in Dance and Pointe magazines, the company is gaining a national reputation, standing alongside Colorado Ballet and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet as a leader in the Rocky Mountain West. However only half of the company's $1 million annual budget goes to professional performances, significantly less than either Colorado Ballet or Aspen Santa Fe.[10]

On July 8, 2010 a message was e-mailed to all of BNC's "patrons, friends, and partners" requesting an additional $198,000 in donations before July 31, 2010. The message, which was also posted on the main page of the company's website warned that without the additional funds the company would need to suspend operations. The letter, signed by artistic director, Garrett Ammon and his sister, the newly appointed executive director, Shari Ammon Mills stated, "We are determined to never find ourselves in this position again. We are diligently working on new strategies and objectives that will enable us to more effectively support and sustain the continued advancement of our school, company and community programs."[11]

Nouveau at Night[edit]


Nouveau at Night is an annual fundraising event held by BNC at the start of their professional season each year. It offers a silent auction with pieces ranging from gift certificates, art, and jewelry to classes, wine, and luxury travel packages. Complimentary glasses of Beaujolais Nouveau are available to guests in addition to premiere performances by the professional company and a night of dancing to live music.

Proceeds from the fundraiser support various aspects of the organization, including arts in education partnerships with four Title I elementary schools in North Denver, The Ugly Duckling Anti-Bullying Program, and new performance pieces.

BNC Dancer Meredith Strathmeyer and former PR Director Talia H. Davis at Nouveau At Night 2008

Ballet Nouveau Colorado Day[edit]

On November 21, 2008, BNC held its annual fundraiser at the Westin Tabor Center bringing the event to Downtown Denver for the first time. Attendance at the fundraiser reached close to 400 people. On behalf of Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper, the director of the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, Mike Roque proclaimed the day "Ballet Nouveau Colorado Day" in the city and county of Denver. More than 300 items were offered at the silent auction. The fundraiser featured Artistic Director Garrett Ammon's "Mediate", a performance choreographed to INXS music.[12]

The Company[edit]

When BNC was founded in 1992 it hired professional dancers only on an "as-needed" basis.[13] In 2002 BNC began to perform professionally maintaining a full-time professional company for the duration of its 25 week session, with only five dancers the first year.[10]

For their 2009-2010 season BNC had 12 professional dancers. During the season the dancers report for a five-day workweek. In addition to rehearsals and performances, company members also participate in outreach programs at local public schools. Some company members also teach classes in the ballet school.[13]


Dancers Strathmeyer, Franklin ('07-'11), Guerra ('05-'10), King, Joyner ('06-'11), Meng, and Watson ('07-'11) at Nouveau at Night 2007
Dancer Hometown Joined BNC
Candice Bergeron Littleton, CO 2011
Ben Delony Baton Rouge, LA 2011
Peter Doll Ithaca, NY 2011
Marian Faustino Manila, Philippines 2011
Colby Foss Fargo, ND 2008
Brooke Frandsen Yuma, AZ 2011
Brandon "Private" Freeman Colorado 2011
Corbin Michael Kalinowski Tucson, AZ 2011
Julie King Pennsylvania 2005
Julia Meng Escondido, CA 2002
Damien Patterson Baltimore, MD 2009
Meredith Strathmeyer Plano, TX 2006
Sarah Tallman Greeley, CO 2004

Artistic Directors[edit]

Robert Mills[edit]

Robert Mills, two-time National Choreographic Plan Award winner and teacher[10] acted as artistic director for the company from the 2004-2005 season through the 2006-2007 season. Mills choreographed various contemporary pieces for the company during his three-year term such as "face.2.face", a collaboration between BNC and the all-male, all-vocal Boulder, CO based rock band, Face.[14] He is also known for choreographing the one-act show "Moulin Rouge" to music by Jacques Offenbach for BNC's debut at the downtown Denver, CO landmark, the Paramount Theater. For the next three years the company performed Valentine's Day performances at this venue.[15] At the end of the company's fifth season Robert Mills left to become the artistic director for the Oklahoma City Ballet[16][17]

Ammon and Fay[edit]

Dawn Fay

Following Robert Mills's departure BNC recruited Ballet Memphis principal dancers and married couple Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fay. Ammon, winner of the Individual Artist Fellowship for choreography in 2007 from the Tennessee Arts Commission stepped into the role of artistic director and his wife, named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" for 2007, took on the newly created position of associate artistic director.[18] The new artistic team's first season with BNC took on the theme "Experience the Evolution" and premiered Ammon's "Love of My Life," a ballet choreographed to Queen music, at BNC's annual showcase. The new show was later featured at the fundraiser, Nouveau at Night. Ammon went on to reinvent BNC's Valentine's Day show, "Moulin Rouge", which had originally been presented two years earlier as a one act set in a Toulouse-Lautrec-esque Parisienne cafe choreographed by former artistic director, Robert Mills.[19] Ammon's "Moulin Rouge," a full-length show, was a love story inspired by the 1894 Gothic horror novel "Trilby," by George du Maurier and featured the hypnotist character Svengali.[20] Collaborating with BNC's staff, Ammon and Fay developed the "21st Century Choreography Competition," an American Idol-like contest for choreographers utilizing YouTube, video blogs, and other forms of digital media as one method of making the company more modern.

Contemporary Ballet[edit]

BNC, as a contemporary ballet company presents performances with modern highlights such as ballet choreographed to rock music, collaborations with poets and music groups and internet driven choreography competitions. "Partly out of financial necessity and partly in keeping with its youthful spirit" the company has also worked to utilize various emerging choreographers[21]

"We Dance, You Vote"[edit]


For the 2007-2008 season BNC invited choreographers from around the country to submit their work via YouTube as part of their 21st Century Choreography Competition. Then, based on public vote and the vote of BNC's artistic director, Garrett Ammon, three finalists were chosen. Each finalist was given around 25 hours of rehearsal time at BNC’s Broomfield, Colorado studios to set their work on the BNC dance company.[22] BNC posted behind-the-scenes video podcasts throughout the rehearsel process. The finalists were given a commission of $1,500 and the winner was awarded a cash prize and a contract to develop works for BNC.[23] The winner is ultimately chosen by popular vote from the audience (via text messaging or paper ballot), Garrett Ammon, and guest judges from the "Arts Business Community" such as Daniel Cappello, assistant editor of The New Yorker and dance professionals such as Wendy Perron, editor of Dance Magazine. The competition was continued for a second season and was rebranded "Dancemakers 2.0".

Year First Place Audience Favorite
2008 Ma Cong Heather Maloy
2009 Joshua Blake Carter Joshua Blake Carter

Ballet & Popular Music[edit]

At the beginning of BNC's 2007-2008 season the then new artistic director, Garrett Ammon premiered his ballet "Love of My Life," a performance choreographed to the music of Queen. Before joining BNC, Ammon had choreographed a work titled, "Mediate" set to INXS music. On October 31, 2008 BNC premiered its second show of the 2008-2009 season, "Garrett Ammon's Rock Ballets." Accompanied by "Mediate" and "Love of My Life" was the world premiere of "An Occasional Dream," a ballet set to the songs of David Bowie.[24][25] According to Ammon, "Unlike traditional ballets that tell a story, movements in these ballets follow the inspiration of the music".[26]

The 2009-2010 season of BNC featured "POP," a ballet that blends pop music and ballet in the style of Rock Ballets. Ammon was joined by 2008 choreography competition finalist, Alex Ketley and 2009 choreography competition winner, Joshua Blake Carter in creating contemporary works for the season's opener. "POP" consisted of four pieces, three premieres and one revival. Carter's piece, "Nothing is forever, darling" utilized the music of Rufus Wainwright while Ketley's "Kill the Anthem" was a blend of indie rock and electronic featuring music from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Test Icicles, The Knife, and MGMT. Ammon's two pieces included the world premiere of "Bang Bang" a piece choreographed entirely to Nancy Sinatra's music and "and tomorrow came" a piece that originally premiered on April 4, 2008 at BNC and features music by the indie folk artist Joanna Newsome.[21][27]

Kairee Sawyer Tormoehlen, Mikey Goldenberg, & Lori Miller of Alice 105.9 at the 25 to Watch party

25 To Watch[edit]


BNC's professional company was featured at the top of Dance Magazine's "25 TO WATCH: WHO WILL SHINE IN '09" list in the magazine's January 2009 issue. The "25 to Watch" feature opened with a two-page spread listing the 25 companies, dancers, and choreographers to make the list and an article on BNC superimposed over a photo taken by Garret Ammon of BNC dancer, Megan Coatney. One of only two dance companies listed in the 25, the article highlighted the company's 21st Century Choreography Competition, Garret Ammon's Rock Ballets, and BNC's collaboration with Colorado's Lighthouse Writers' Workshop on the February 2009 performance, "Love," featuring new choreography from Ammon, Ma Cong (winner of the 2008 choreography competition), and Canada-based choreographer Mark Godden.[28]

The School of BNC[edit]

The School of BNC offers two sessions: the 38-week Session that runs from August to May and the Summer Programs including Adult and Interim Classes and a Summer Camp. The ballet training is based on a mixture of the English RAD system, the Italian Cecchetti method, and the French system. Classes in Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, and Pilates are also offered through the school. In 1999 The School of BNC was certified by the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.

Boys Program[edit]

The Boys Program focuses on learning men's jumps and turns and strengthening the muscles needed to partner with women dancers.

Pre-School Ballet[edit]

This program is for students ages 3 and 4. Students learn basic vocabulary and music skills and focus on building coordination in basic dance steps.


Adults are offered classes in Adult Ballet, Body Conditioning, Pilates, Yoga, and Adult Modern.

Performance opportunities[edit]

Throughout the course of the year students enrolled in the school are offered various opportunities for performance.[29]

Professional productions[edit]

Students aged 7 and older who meet certain requirements are given the opportunity to audition for roles in the professional company's annual stage production, The Nutcracker. In addition advanced students may be invited by the professional company's artistic director to dance in other productions or to become trainees to the company.

Student Company[edit]

The Student Company, established in 1992 is a pre-professional company designed for intermediate and advanced students who have met certain requirements including those required to audition for The Nutcracker. The Student Company has various performance opportunities including an annual spring concert presented to the public at the end of the season. Their schedule includes 20 hours a week of classes and rehearsals.

Young Choreographers' Showcase[edit]

The culminating production of the Composition class, the Young Choreographers' Showcase presents student created dance pieces. Students participate in all elements of production, including costume and lighting design.


BNC offers educational outreach programs providing free arts programming to 20,000 residents each year. They develop a year-long partnership with local elementary schools to provide dance education that supports the schools' curricular goals as well as free performances to students. BNC also provides over 1,000 free tickets each season a diverse group of low-income, senior and at-risk individuals.

Year-long Elementary School Partnerships[edit]

The various elements of the program are designed to give students multiple dance and movement experiences. These include:

  • Two interactive lecture/demonstrations in their own facility
  • An on-site performance for the entire school that will reinforce concepts from the periods of time discussed in the history presentation
  • Two in-depth residencies designed to enhance and support the school’s specific curricular priorities
  • Two performances where students are bussed to a theatre[30]

Ongoing experiences with Ballet Nouveau Colorado professional artists and teachers encourage students to think more critically about the art they see, be more willing to participate in artistic activities, and learn through non-traditional modalities.[31]

The Ugly-Duckling Anti-Bullying Program[edit]

A performance workshop where students and company dancers work together to create lifelike scenarios of everyday school life using discussion and creative choreography.[1] The program utilizes best practices from the anti-bullying field and provides schools with an artistic method of assisting students in creating a caring community. Teachers begin by leading their students in activities provided by BNC that emphasize the concepts of respect, empathy, and teamwork. Students are then bussed to a live performance of "The Ugly Duckling" put on by members of BNC's professional company. The show originally choreographed by Robert Mills as been called, "a delightful romp through 1980’s pop culture" and takes the classic story and presents it in modern times featuring the Ugly Duckling going to school. Following the performance key scenes are re-enacted to show students how one or two brave people can create a caring community and end bullying.[30]


  1. ^ a b c d Brown, Keely (March 28, 2008). "Ballet Nouveau dances toward change". Boulder County Business Report. 
  2. ^ BNC History
  3. ^ CO House Resolution #02-1009
  4. ^ Krider, Dylan Otto (February 3, 2010). "Garrison leaves Broomfield-based Ballet Nouveau". Broomfield Enterprise. 
  5. ^ Lissy Garrison, Executive Director. Garrett Ammon and Michael J. Henry's Intersection Program. Ballet Nouveau Colorado 2009-10 Season.
  6. ^ MacMillan, Kyle (February 21, 2010). "New exec due for Ballet Nouveau". The Denver Post. 
  7. ^ Wenzel, John (January 13, 2011). "Ballet Nouveau Colorado appoints new executive director". The Denver Post. 
  8. ^ Harden, Mark (September 19, 2008). "Insurance executive Reinig, Levy Trust aid ballet troupe". Denver Business Journal. 
  9. ^ Richert, Kathryn (February 28, 2008). "Ferguson's hours add up to true philanthropy". Broomfield Enterprise. 
  10. ^ a b c Wenzel, John (April 12, 2007). "Ballet Nouveau toes new line". Denver Post. 
  11. ^ "AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT". Ballet Nouveau Colorado. July 8, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Nouveau at Night". Blacktie-Colorado. November 21, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b Sawyer, Sarah (February 1, 2007). "Ballet Nouveau Colorado Company Profile". Pointe. 
  14. ^ Ballet Nouveau Colorado Presents face.2.face
  15. ^ Heckel, Aimee (February 7, 2008). "Ballet Nouveau stages 'Moulin Rouge' for Valentine's Day". Daily Camera. 
  16. ^ "New artistic team will join Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s 07-08 season!". The BNC Blog. May 7, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Ballet Oklahoma: A New Day.". Press Kit. Oklahoma City Ballet. 
  18. ^ Morgan, Carmel (March 10, 2007). "Ballet Memphis "interiorworks 8.0"". CriticalDance forum & Ballet-Dance magazine. 
  19. ^ Atwood, Donald K. (February 18, 2006). "Review: Ballet Nouveau". World Dance Reviews. 
  20. ^ Heckel, Aimee (February 7, 2008). "Ballet Nouveau stages 'Moulin Rouge' for Valentine's Day". Daily Camera. 
  21. ^ a b Macmillan, Kyle (October 1, 2009). "Ballet Nouveau Colorado has a winner with 'Pop.'". Denver Post. 
  22. ^ Atwood, Donald K (April 6, 2008). "Ballet Nouveau Colorado Takes Dance To Cyberspace". World Dance Reviews. 
  23. ^ Richert, Kathryn (October 26, 2007). "Ballet Nouveau steps into 21st century: Company embracing technology to entice audiences". Broomfield Enterprise. 
  24. ^ Young, Quentin (October 24, 2008). "Ballets will rock you". Longmont Times-Call. 
  25. ^ Atwood, Donald K. (October 31, 2008). "Not Flips-And-Tricks – Just Kick-Ass Dance". World Dance Reviews. 
  26. ^ Bridges, Sally (October 30, 2008). "Ballet Nouveau will rock you: Queen, INXS, Bowie set stage for latest show". Daily Camera. 
  27. ^ Pop. Program. Ballet Nouveau Colorado 2009-10 Season.
  28. ^ MacMillan, Kyle (January 2009). "25 to watch: Ballet Nouveau Colorado". Dance Magazine 83 (1). 
  29. ^ The School of Ballet Nouveau Colorado Inspiring and delighting dancers since 1992.
  30. ^ a b "Ballet Nouveau Colorado Profile, Giving First: A Program of Community First Foundation". 
  31. ^ BNC Outreach

External links[edit]