Gardens break new ground with modern dance

Matthew Lindstrom and Laura Bradley dance at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.

One might expect that a vivid sunset shining over a succulent garden could inspire a painter or a writer, but what about a dancer?

Laura Bradley and Matthew Lindstrom, coproducers of Push/Don’t Pull Dance Theatre, looked at the sandy soil at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and were inspired to create an entire outdoor dance performance among the spiny cactuses and other plants.

“I just think there should be dancing there,” Bradley said of the gardens.

Bradley and Lindstrom, along with dancers from the Beyond Boundaries Dance Collective, will perform a variety of interpretive dance pieces during the concert, Standing on New Ground, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 14.

There will be solos, duets and group numbers and each dance will be staged in different sections of the walking path in the outdoor garden. The modern dancers will interpret the feelings, or lack thereof, in human relationships as onlookers follow the dances through the garden.

Modern dance, also called free dance, is a less constrictive form of classical ballet and the movements are expressive of inner feelings. It resembles other modern art forms in that it is experimental and lacks conformity. Dancers often perform barefoot in order to be closer to the earth.

“More and more of dance is being taken off the stage and brought into environments,” Bradley said, adding that these types of performances are popular among smaller dance troupes in larger cities.

Bradley called the performance visionary in that it includes audience participation as a key part in the spaces left open by the dance pieces.

“This isn’t the kind of show where you come watch and sit down,” Bradley said.

Audience members should be prepared to stand or move a folding chair or blanket between performances, she said.

Bradley likened the experience to that of an art gallery where one views the art then moves on to the next piece.

“It’s about using the space but not necessarily about the space itself,” she said.

Each performance is expected to last 5–8 minutes. In one of the dances, a poem by local writer Carol Christ will be interpreted. The dancers will write the words of the poem on their bodies and act upon the movement of the words.

“This is a very unique experience here in Grand Junction,” said Laura Stafford, marketing and promotions director for the botanical gardens.

The interpretive dance performance is the first of its kind to take place at the gardens, and “we are so excited to partner with them on this project because it benefits us both,” she said.

A preview of the concert will take place in conjunction with The Art Center’s First Friday Art Hop from 5–7 p.m. Friday, May 7.

There will be free mini-performances and an open house at the botanical gardens.

“We are the featured gallery this month, only our gallery will feature movement,” Stafford said.

During the free preview event, some dancers will remain in a standing pose while guest artist Deb Snider demonstrates blind contour drawing. The technique is a practice in hand-eye coordination for artists who put pencil to paper and draw continuously without looking at the drawing or lifting the pencil until the drawing is complete.

Attendees are encouraged to draw with Snider, then present their drawing at the May 14 performance for a discounted ticket.

Tickets to Standing on New Ground cost $10.

“This is a great way to be at the gardens,” Bradley said, adding that there is a cash bar and the event is family friendly.

For more information, call 712-1041 or go to


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