We Moved the Freakin’ (Crested) Butte

*Photos by Tereza Venn and Crested Butte News, video (see bottom) by Cody Buchholz

 

The past few months have been overwhelmingly awesome. Sure, I took a new job that I’m extremely stoked about, but more on that later. Here, I’m referring to the amount of work I put into a dance performance and the amount of pride I took away from feeling it all come together after the past few months of hard work. And no, I never thought I’d hear myself say that. Well, the good feelings as a result of hard work part, yes, but not the dance performance part.

It’s wild to think back a few years and compare that place to where we actually ended up, especially when life moves so fast. I definitely didn’t think I’d be co-choreographing a 50s rock dance for four nights of sold-out shows in front of literally half our town. Nor did I think I’d play a part in a passionate, heart breaking tango duo and have all eyes on me…err, us.

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One of our favorite moves. It was all about the leg wrap and her trusting I would catch her.

I did the math as the show approached, and with it nerves. 260 seats x 4 shows = 1040. That’s literally half the population of Crested Butte, Colorado. Fortunately, it’s one of the more open-minded and inspiring towns on the planet. At least, so say a world traveler or two (or twelve) that I know well. It’s tough to get on stage in front of that many people, whether knowing any of them or not, and enact what has been practiced behind closed doors for months on end. And it’s reassuring, to say the least, to hear the positive feedback afterward.

Daniela Runge and I choreographed two dances for Move the Butte 2016. We began with tango and the second dance sort of formed itself. I remember when she asked me to partner with her. We hit it off on a downtown dance floor one night last fall and she asked me to join her in tango for the community’s annual theatrical performance. Sure, why not?

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. We met a few weeks later to outline our routine. It began with a vague understanding of what we (she) wanted to try and pull off and improved very slowly. For some reason, while practicing tango during one of our twice-per-week sessions, I threw out another idea.

“You know what would be cool,” I asked. “A 50s rock piece with multiple dances of varying dynamics and difficulties where the guys and gals are in slight disagreement and the energy builds from one dance to the next…”

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Twist – We took moves from the Pulp Fiction scene with John Travolta and Uma Thurman.

Just kidding. That’s not what I said verbatim. I don’t actually speak that well. I use words more like “dude” and “bro” and “dope”, and phrases like “Dudebro, that’s dope.” So I can’t recall exactly how I suggested the new routine but I do remember throwing the idea out there, then Daniela coming back the next week with a list of interested dancers who wanted to make it happen.

“So…you’ll be my partner, right?” she asked me.

“Sure, why not?” I replied, somewhat reluctantly. I had been thinking something farther down the line, like next year, but what the hell. Why not add yet another project to the already chaotic honey-do list?

In addition to our tango piece, we worked together for three months to choreograph two dance routines that many people we see on a daily basis would eventually pay to watch. Little did I know we would recruit such a fun group of dancers for such a fun, energetic piece. And little did I know how awesome it would turn out to be and how much I would truly enjoy being onstage, amidst all that action, moving to nothing but muscle memory and some really good tunes from our parents’ youth.

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Lindy Hop – fast feet and big, bright smiles were the name of this game.

We practiced both the tango and Jukebox biweekly for three months straight. Daniela and I met twice per week for tango and the Jukebox squad met once per week for 50s dance. We called the 50s rock piece Jukebox, and we even had a life-size plywood jukebox painted in great detail the best plein-air artists in the valley. Since there were four audio clips from different musical genres strung together, each about 40 seconds long, we needed a way to blend together without missing a beat. Having dancers visibly skipping songs seemed like a good solution and placing a jukebox prop on stage worked perfectly. We studied at YouTube University and relayed what we learned to the other dancers in our squad. It was awesome watching everyone learn the steps and fine-tune all their unique additions to the routine.

Thank you SO much to our fellow dancers. Stephanie Marziano, Brian Barker, Sasha Cuchadoff, Carson West, Shawn and Dawn Horne, Zack Gustafson and Wendy Fisher, you helped make a dream reality and I’ll never forget the experience we created together.

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Sasha (L), Carson, Brian, Me, Wendy, Daniela, Shawn, Steph, Dawn

We danced the Jitterbug, the Twist and the Lindy Hop, and us guys learned to disconnect our hips from the rest of our bodies and move with rockin’ rhythm like Elvis Presley did when he revolutionized live musical performances and forced young women to wear Velcro shoes so their socks wouldn’t be knocked off. Some of our moves were challenging and some others, extremely difficult. Most of us were scared, at least a bit, when we imagined ourselves doing it all on stage for a packed house. I loved watching the group progress as a whole and learn to have faith in them selves as well as in one another. That, my friends, is something to take pride in and worth pursuing for the greater good.

It’s a bummer to think that it’s all over. I will miss our weekly dance practices. I will miss the tacky 50s smiles (is that generationist of me?) and the polka-dot dresses, but the swingin’ steps and aerial maneuvers should stick with me for years to come.

As for tango, I only know some basic steps but they’re steps in the right direction and I imagine they’ll shine through whenever I participate in partner dances from here on out. I must give credit to Daniela, my beautiful Argentinian dance partner for her instruction and patience as I learned to keep my “white boy moves” at bay. Tango is not an easy dance. It requires moving with confidence and maintaining a formal, structured composition. My ultra-white hips and shoulders took a while to adjust to such little swagger but once I got it, it stuck.

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Photo taken during dress rehearsal. My left leg should have been straightened but my knee was sore from snowboarding and we should have been looking at each other, not down.

I think I had pretty damn good form at show time. As did Daniela, naturally. She moves with grace and a cool, casual style that is hard to replicate. I held my own, which was my role as the male lead in our Latin dance, but of course I brought a bit of that good ol’ white boy flare. Watching us together, people reported they could feel the passion. They made comments like, “You two were amazing! I could feel the heat,” and, “Wow! You move so well together,” and, one of my favorites, “You’re dating, right?”

That’s just some of the viewer feedback. A video would be ideal, but we don’t get to see that for a while so these will have to suffice for the time being.

Yea, we looked damn good.

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Photo credit: Crested Butte News

 

Video taken during dress rehearsal. Our routine wasn’t perfect, but close. It improved with each show over the next three nights. Please excuse the blur and the head that blocks our feet. This was the only video we could acquire.

Adam is Stoked on Land Rover, but still drives a Subie

No, I didn’t get a luxurious all-terrain vehicle for free. But I did wake up this morning to find my work on Land Rover’s content site. The site is called Discover the #Undiscovered, and it’s full of cool, creative articles and beautiful landscape photos all aiming to compel people to rove the land. In a Land Rover, of course. Perhaps I should have told swap between my Subaru and a somewhat conspicuous creeper van.

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Click here for my top four stateside suggestions for Land Rover clientele planning to backcountry ski and snowboard during the spring.

Haoles in Hawaii – Treks and Tours on the Big Island

A friend and I did Hawaii earlier this summer. Brandon’s dad has a timeshare in Kona on the west side of the Big Island, so we used that as base camp and adventured out, circumnavigating the island in search of the best time we could find. We found it. Then I wrote about it for Active Junky, which helped pay for my flight. After several months I began to wonder when I would see my words and photos online, then they appeared on Active Junky’s Facebook page.

Brandon snapped this shot of me running across the caldera through rain and sulfur steam on the Kilueau Iki trail.
Brandon snapped this shot of me running across the caldera through rain and sulfur steam on the Kilueau Iki trail.

Continue reading “Haoles in Hawaii – Treks and Tours on the Big Island”

Grandma and Grandpa are getting back together :)

I wrote this almost two years ago when grandma was passing, but never thought it was appropriate to share. Now that grandpa will be joining her shortly, presumably in the next day or so, I’ve changed my mind. It’s funny how life (and death) alter perspectives. The farther in life we travel, the less we give a **** what others think. So with the utmost respect for my family, and for myself as an expressive writer, this is what I wrote about grandma as I sat next to her frail figure not long before she left this world for another. I’m not looking for sympathy, just to get it off my chest. Plus, thinking about death is healthy. Continue reading “Grandma and Grandpa are getting back together :)”

Five Awesome Trail Runs In Colorado, As Featured On Active Junky

As you must know, I enjoy trail running. And I most certainly enjoy spending my time in Colorado. So I wrote this article for Active Junky about ten of the most awesome trail runs in Colorado. It’s broken into two pieces, with five here and five coming soon…

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Continue reading “Five Awesome Trail Runs In Colorado, As Featured On Active Junky”

Living The Resort Town Life

“I hope all the skunk cabbage and century plants foretell a big snow year and that everybody forgets about this.” – local business owner

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Blocks 79 & 80, site of future deed-restricted housing development in Crested Butte.

This four-part feature series I wrote for the Crested Butte News discusses the affordable housing “crisis” currently faced by locals in many resort towns. I hope you’ll join me in this exploration of life, liberty and not-so-basic economics in beautiful communities that are quite literally being loved to death.

Continue reading “Living The Resort Town Life”

Buckskin Pass Colorado

Four Pass Loop – epic Colorado trail run

I take back anything I’ve said about Rowdy not being much of an endurance runner. Here’s a short video I made with my phone of yesterday’s epic – the Four Pass Loop near Crested Butte and Aspen, Colorado, and then some – totaling roughly 32 miles over four 12,000’+ passes and just shy of 11,000′ vertical gain…and equal descent. There would be times I thought it would be best we both just stopped in our tracks and lay down. Then he would go from panting at my feet to bolting off after a chirping marmot, or one of the billions of scents he seems to pick out from each square yard of wild earth, and I would force myself to also perk up. He kept getting these energy bursts…like mine, they would come and go…and he even pulled me up the final hill to the car at 9:00 p.m.! Maybe he sensed the car was near…or maybe he’s just a badass…perhaps both. We didn’t run all 32 miles. More like 24, but tried our mightiest. There was more snow…and water…and mud…and mileage than anticipated, but we’re home safe and sound and he’s sleeping like a baby after two big meals and a nice Bag Balm massage. Continue reading “Four Pass Loop – epic Colorado trail run”

Crested Butte Housing Crisis – Thinking outside…err, inside the box…and the ground.

I heard at tonight’s meeting on the Crested Butte housing crisis at CB Center for the Arts that the cost of building affordable housing is very high. I understand that construction costs must be high, but is maintaining that housing part of the equation? If so, I have an idea. Well, either way I have an idea. And this may sound wild, but like I heard earlier tonight, we need to get more creative… Continue reading “Crested Butte Housing Crisis – Thinking outside…err, inside the box…and the ground.”