From poetry to pole dance | News


How do you present yourself in your life as a creative force? What is important to you?

Local Performing Arts Curator Alya Howe invites the community of Roaring Fork to examine these questions in the first month of the New Year through an intimate, personal and diverse artistic performance.

On January 23, Howe will present “The Salon: 5 Women, 5 Voices”, a multidisciplinary performance featuring five female artists from Colorado, at the Launchpad in downtown Carbondale.

“It’s a new year and in this new year, I believe we all need to come together to face the things that are going to happen,” Howe said. “The show is an event where people come together – artists come together and different voices are shared – and it’s an opportunity to give yourself a break, relax and bathe in the art and stories of these women.”

Howe, who has run shows in the valley for more than five years, said it was the first time she had intentionally hosted an all-female show. Centered on the theme of ‘courage and strength’, Howe expressed her enthusiasm for this diverse group of women, discussing the dynamic ideology behind the ‘female archetype’.

“Women’s energy has the ability to bring people together and bring community together in a time of regrowth,” she said. “And once I saw these five women throughout the last year being in my orbit, I thought to myself that this would be a very powerful group.”

The lineup of talented female performers includes French circus artist Stephanie Ortega of Cirque du Soleil, cellist Erica Ogihara, poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, contemporary ballet dancer Samantha Altenau of DanceAspen and journalist (and “yogi muse” ) Michelle Marchildon. The five women are currently based in Colorado, and while some live in the state, others are there temporarily as they navigate their artistic journeys.

Originally from France, Ortega studied ballet at the Roland Petit school in Marseille and began to dance professionally in cabarets in Paris. She discovered the circus community when performing in the United States and quickly began training as an acrobat, gaining skill after skill and eventually mastering the “Hanging Pole,” a moving pole that doesn’t touch the ground, imitating a flight effect.

Before the pandemic, Ortega worked for Cirque du Soleil on the show “Corteo” as the only suspended pole artist. Currently living in the valley, Ortega is preparing to join the iconic circus troupe on an international tour, and she will share her fascinating art form with the public at the next show.

“Stephanie moves with such lightness, precision and grace – how brave it is to swing in the air,” commented Howe.

Back on the ground, Altenau, who is a dancer and program director for DanceAspen, plans to demonstrate her creative process behind choreographing new works at the show, offering audiences a glimpse into her sourcing and storytelling through bodily movement.

Altenau studied various types of dance at the Alvin Ailey School and previously danced with Carolyn Dorfman Dance in New York. As one of the founding dancers of DanceAspen, she currently lives in the valley and has performed in venues and local productions, such as the Aspen Fringe Festival.

A native of Miami, Florida, Ogihara was selected as the 2021 AmeriCorps Music Fellow of the Artist Year and has taught music in schools in the Roaring Fork Valley throughout his year of service. She completed her Suzuki teacher training with Pamela Devenport at School For Strings in New York and earned her Masters with Natasha Brofsky at Juilliard School in New York.

The skilled cellist plans to pair Bach with Gubaidulina for her salon number. In her artist statement, she said she wanted to show the “beautiful range in which the preludes can be written” and looks forward to talking about Gubaidulina’s “interesting story”.

Trommer, who is based in the Telluride area, was Colorado Western Slope’s third poet laureate from 2015 to 2017. She co-hosts a podcast on the creative process called “Emerging Form” and was a storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and the Taos Storytelling Festival in New Mexico.

She owns 13 collections of poetry, and her most recent collection “Hush” won the Halcyon Prize for poems on human ecology. Since 2006, Trommer has been writing a poem a day, and Howe has pointed out how lucky she feels to have the Poet Extraordinary agree to play.

In his act titled “Things Not to Know During Grief”, Trommer will explore the intense range of emotions after the death of his son with his own hand.

“I know when Rosemerry speaks she won’t hide, she will look at things upside down – she doesn’t ignore difficulties,” Howe said. “There will be a lot of people who are going to love her and hold her energetically.”

Knowing the weight and “depth of heart” that Trommer will share, Howe said she believes Marchildon’s witty and humorous entertainment will be a strong and lighter part to complement the intimate evening.

Marchildon, a published author and former Denver-based journalist, will reflect on her role as a mother and her determination to pursue her dreams in an act titled “How To Make A Comeback When You Ain’t Been Nowhere.”

“All of these women are showing courage and strength, physically, mentally and emotionally,” Howe said. “And I believe in the character and nurturing nature of women, and how these women will bring audiences into a sense of deep community belonging.”

Each artist will have 15 minutes to express their art form and creative process in any way they like, Howe explained. As the host of the show, Howe said she would introduce the performers, add asides highlighting her personal observations of the various acts and ask the audience what they think between performances.

“You have a conversation with the artists and the artists really explain why they chose to make their art form,” Howe said. “And they’re right there – there’s no separation of a scene – and because of the closeness there’s a magic in the air, something so precious being shared closely with you.”

While performers will have access to The Launchpad space one day before the show for rehearsal purposes, Howe said there will be no official dress rehearsal.

“The night of the show we go,” Howe said. “It’s a delicious and surprising event and even though the level of the performers in this salon is of the highest class, if they decide that they didn’t like something during their act, they will say it – it is a lens in the creativity and interpretive process.

Howe, who herself has a background in the performing arts, is committed to keeping the salon concept alive in the valley with the help of Philadelphia Salon co-curator and founder Andrea Clearfield. Aspiring to bring local artists and international talent from all artistic disciplines into an intimate salon, the two women have organized series of salons in theaters and venues across the valley.

Howe mentioned that the usual lounge was in Judge Snow’s back lounge, a former restaurant and bar in the Wheeler Opera building. Since Judge Snow’s shutdown, Carbondale Arts has been a huge supporter in the ongoing production of the show series, Howe said, and the upcoming “5 Women, 5 Voices” – which marks the first in more than two years since. before the pandemic – wouldn’t happen without the support of Carbondale Arts.

“All I want to do is help uplift our community and give it the opportunity to see these amazing artists,” Howe said. “And may they inspire them to do arts in their own lives – to take time with the arts to understand the joys in life and help us breathe.”

“The Salon: 5 Women, 5 Voices” will take place at Launchpad on January 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $ 25 and are available for purchase at

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