When Carbondale resident Peter Gilbert was in his 20s, he wanted to be part of the dance world. While not a dancer himself, he had a passion for the art form and wanted to produce shows. But then someone told him that while he could probably find a job in the field, he likely wouldn't make any money. So he pursued other, more profitable interests.
In 2009, decades later, with his firm passion for the field still intact, Gilbert started Dance Initiatives. The organization merged with nonprofit Aspen Stage a couple of years ago.
“Aspen Stage had been around for 25 or 30 years,” says Gilbert, “and their mission was to provide opportunities for writers, directors and actors in the community to get together and perform. And Dance Initiatives pretty much had that same initial mission, except we wanted to give dancers and choreographers and teachers of dance opportunities to create new work and to perform.”
This weekend, Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, dance fans will get the chance to see the result of these collaborations in the 6th Spectrum Dance Collection, a showcase highlighting a multitude of dance genres — from classical and contemporary ballet to jazz and modern dance, and even an award-winning clogging duo. Twenty-one dancers from organizations from Aspen to Grand Junction will perform 15 pieces in an hour-long set at Carbondale's Thunder River Theatre Company both nights.
The pieces are short, ranging from two to six minutes, and vary from serious dance pieces to more whimsical ones.
“It's truly a collection,” says Gilbert. “It's not a production that has a beginning, middle and end. It's dancers — some solos, some duos, some larger groups — choreographing and performing their own works.”
The showcase, which Gilbert has produced up to twice a year for the past few years, is Gilbert's main hobby, he says. He's enjoyed drawing from the surprisingly deep bench that the Roaring Fork Valley and nearby towns have to offer. Most dancers are invited to perform via word of mouth. And while Gilbert says the show is certainly family-friendly, he mainly puts this on for the dance community.
“This is really a wonderful community with a lot of high quality dancers,” he says. “So it's been fun putting it together. There's a great mix of students experimenting with choreography, college students who are serious about dance, some college grads and former professionals who now teach.”
Since its inception in 2009, Dance Initiatives has expanded its offerings, and now hosts a multi-day dance festival in the summer. The event, dubbed the Spectrum Dance Festival, is basically a larger version of the Spectrum Dance Collection, with choreographers, dancers and teachers coming from around the country.
The organization has also started to offer scholarships, up to $1,000 each, for dancers and teachers interested in attending intensive dance workshops. The only requirement is that they pick a program and tell Dance Initiatives how they plan to share that experience with the dance community here in the valley.
“It’s pretty rewarding to be able to give dancers the opportunity to perform and create,” Gilbert says. “And there isn't a better place I would like to do it than here.”
Spectrum Dance Collection
Friday, April 26 & Saturday, April 27 7:30 p.m.
At Carbondale's Thunder River Theatre
Cost: $15; $5 for 18 and under
www.danceinitiative.org;  970-963-8681