{Dd} Exclusive: Spotlight on Colorado Ballet's Kevin Gael Thomas

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Colorado Ballet's Kevin Gael Thomas

Colorado Ballet’s Kevin Gael Thomas

Colorado Ballet’s Kevin Gael Thomas is a dancer that is easy to spot —  he’s the one passionately dancing every role he’s cast in, a dancer who doesn’t just thrive on the art form, but one whose a junkie for it.

And, his interests extend beyond performing and into the realm of choreography. Creating works on fellow company members is an artistic ‘sweet spot’ for dancers who envision themselves on some level as choreographers as well; they are able to recognize their peers’ artistic strengths and put them to use in work that has a different energy than a guest choreographer or artistic director brings to a piece.

Thomas premiered two works at Colorado Ballet’s Fancy Footwork April 10, a casual, dancer directed production held annually at Colorado Ballet’s studios. It presented a rare chance to mingle with the Colorado Ballet artists and peek behind the curtain of classical ballet in Denver. {Dd} spoke with Thomas about his two high-intensity, emotional ballets. He expanded on the inspiration behind them, as well as what it’s like to choreography specifically for men.

{Dd}: The first piece looked  like it was exploring the dynamic of the complexities of the human mind with two dancers dressed identically,  hence the title, Schizophrenia. You also performed in this piece. What was the artistic process behind this work?

Kevin Gael Thomas: Fellow Colorado Ballet dancer Kevin Hale and I choreographed that piece together. But I really wanted to perform it while he decided to take a step back to take a more precise look at what we were creating. Francisco Estevez was the other performer. For quite a few years I’ve wanted to choreograph a men’s dance that would be truly visceral, captivating, and powerful. As we were performing Glen Tetley’s Rite of Spring at the Ellie Caulkins Opera house last March, which included an important men’s section with heavy partnering, I told myself that I should create a meaningful piece for men. The strong physicality, constant tension, and daring attitude towards each other  is what carries the piece. It may raise questions like: how many personalities do we really have? In this piece, Schizophrenia, I attempted to depict two, instinct and ego. When does one take over the other one?

{Dd}: I really liked the theme of your second piece, Distance. Can you expand on that a bit more?

KGT: Distance is what we create among each other to remember who we are and where we go. Just like at the beginning of a relationship. By creating this distance, we can take a step back and feel less influenced or used by our own society. The same society that brought us Internet and cellphones can also disconnect real human interactions. Our generation is constantly looking at a screen instead of looking in each other’s eyes, observing the world we live in. “Distance”should be the name of our generation. We write emails instead of letters, text instead of calling, stop by parties instead of just going and so on. Instead of communicating we take things personally and naturally create distance from one another. I wanted to describe pain and sorrow through the distance we unconsciously create in between one another.

Catch Kevin Gael Thomas and the rest of the Colorado Ballet men this summer on Aug. 16 during An Evening Under the Stars in Arvada. For more information, visit ColoradoBallet.org

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