This October, A Gothic Folktale opens the 2016-2017 Wonderbound season with a fantastical circus straight from the mind of Artistic Director Garrett Ammon. Set to the hauntingly beautiful music of Jesse Manley and His Band and featuring the interactive illusions of Professor Phelyx, this original production will pull audiences into the curious world under the big-top.
"I'm so proud to be bringing A Gothic Folktale back for the opening of Wonderbound's 2016-2017 season," said Ammon. "Jesse and Phelyx outdid themselves when we created this program in 2013, and it is one of our most requested productions. I can't wait to see it live on the stage again."
The curtain opens on The Fool, an overlooked young janitor, who watches from afar as the ringmaster directs act after act. Suddenly, the spotlight falls upon The Star, a daring beauty who spins her magic throughout the stage and steals the heart of The Fool. Tied together with an original score by Manley, their tale unfolds as other circus characters (all inspired by the tarot) perform their acts: blindfolded Justice with her swords, strange Death and more - even siamese twins make an appearance.
"To create the music, I wanted to go back in time and understand the music of an earlier era - I wanted to transport the audience to a long-ago place and time," said Manley. "I studied the Vaudevillian music of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, in addition to the superbly eerie storytelling of Tom Waits. I learned to play the tenor banjo and the musical saw to harken back to the 1920s, and I studied a specific kind of guitar picking, called 'Travis Picking,' to fully capture the sound of the time."
Throughout the production, Professor Phelyx weaves a magic all his own as he calls upon the audience to aid him in his mind-bending illusions.
"Of all of the highlights of my 35 years on stage, A Gothic Folktale is one of the true gems," said Professor Phelyx. "I am so very pleased that this treasured journey will once more be shared with audiences!"
A Gothic Folktale will be preceded by a limited seating Teaser at the Wonderbound Studio at Junction Box on September 27, allowing audiences a taste of what the full length performance will hold. Each production at the Performing Arts Complex at Pinnacle Charter School will also feature an exclusive exhibition of work by Denver artist Jonathan Saiz curated by Leon Gallery.
As always, the public is encouraged to experience the performers, not only at the official shows throughout the season, but in their rehearsal space in the heart of Denver. Visitors are asked to call to confirm rehearsal schedules.
"the mystery surrounding A Gothic Folktale mimics the intrigue building with Wonderbound. Both are uncharted territories and make big statements about Ammon's overarching vision-a new kind of American Dance Company that challenges the paradigm of performing arts." - Dance Informa Magazine
"with its haunting strains and evocative story, the show is mysterious, engaging and even soothing as you lilt away to another time and place." - The Huffington Post
Press for Wonderbound
"Fine-arts lovers may balk at the blurring of lines between pure choreography and musical theater, but Wonderbound has found success with it... As Colorado's second-largest professional ballet company, its collaborations with writers, poets, magicians and indie musicians such as Ian Cooke and Jesse Manley have successfully turned hip, young audiences on to the pleasures of dance."
"...they extend beyond dancers; they are flat out artists. They are incredible when performing a pas de deux in pairs, or as a company in perfect precision. They come in all shapes and sizes and there are no rankings amongst the dancers. They are disgustingly perfect and somehow both ethereal and absolutely raw."
"The energy and magical sense of community within Wonderbound is different. It is like the community owns the troupe as much as it owns itself. Disrupt your normal reality and take part in creative place-making. Take part in dance - make your community move!"
Wonderbound is an American Dance Company that lives at the convergence of tradition and innovation, vulnerability and courage, and intimacy and openness. Under the leadership of husband-and-wife team Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fay, Wonderbound is committed to the development and sharing of collaborative artistic experiences. These undertakings have come to define Wonderbound, producing creations that erase boundaries between mediums and engage artists and audiences in candid explorations of the human experience.
Garrett Ammon is an acclaimed choreographer who began his tenure as artistic director of Wonderbound (formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado) in 2007. Ammon has been honored as a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Livingston Fellow (2011); named one of Denver Westword's "Ten People to Watch in 2013" and is the recipient of the 2013 Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.
A prolific dancemaker, serial collaborator and self-professed tech geek; Ammon has created over 50 dance works over the past fourteen years. He has conspired with artists across an array of disciplines and developed a trademark aesthetic that seamlessly blends tradition with adventurous new ideas.
Ammon's deep creative relationship with poet Michael J. Henry has produced When the Power Goes Out (2009) and the multimedia, evening length production Intersection (2009). In 2014, Ammon and Henry worked with musician Ian Cooke to create the all new full length piece Gone West. In 2013, after the successful creation of Vagabond Hill (2011), Ammon and Denver Singer/Songwriter Jesse Manly again joined forces this time, with Illusionist Professor Phelyx, to create the full-length piece A Gothic Folktale. Other recent works include, Odessa with Ofer Ben-Amots and Colorado College; the Klezmer-fusion piece, Memories and Well Grounded Hopes with Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe; and an international collaborative work with Israel's Liat Dror Nir Ben Gal Dance Company along with the Mizel Arts & Culture Center.
Ammon lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and muse Dawn Fay. They have worked alongside each other continuously since they first met in 1999.
Jesse Manley's music is rooted in a deep passion for story-telling. With an insatiable hunger for evolving his knowledge of musical history and acuity, Manley delves into styles which few remember to transport his listener back in time. His music can be described as a folk-inspired melding of new and old sounds, exploring genres as diverse as jazz and country. His sound has been described by audiences as "beautiful, jauntily melancholic, and unique" and by the Huffington Post as "elegant and haunting, winding you into this sensual allegory of the season." OndaRock named Manley's music as one of the "Top 10 Albums of the Year" in 2015 and "Top Album of the Year" in 2014. Manley was nominated for Westword's Best Folk Music Award in 2014, and he was chosen as Best of 2014 by OpenAir. Manley is most proud of his numerous collaborations with Wonderbound Artistic Director Garrett Ammon, with whom he has created five works, which have received critical acclaim.
About Professor Phelyx
Professor Phelyx is an award-winning Comedic Mentalist who began performing in 1981. While he performs internationally, he loves being based in Denver because he is a Colorado native. He is currently collaborating with other artists, lecturing, co-producing several shows and is touring his newest show, "Professor Phelyx, From the Vest."