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Dance Warriors – Oil | Denver Dance Photography

The Dance Warriors project is an artistic response to political and social issues, in collaboration with dancers across the country. This project started as my response to our changing political climate and my desire to make an impact for the better. This is my way to use Denver dance photography to raise awareness about the issues that face us today.

This was the first session I did locally, in Colorado. For months, I drove past the Suncor oil refinery a few days a week. It’s very visible from the highway. Something about it intrigued me. It looked so cool, industrial, grungy, even beautiful, but it also made me sad. It may look beautiful but it’s function wasn’t. Knowing what it was and the harm it was doing to us and the environment made it frustrating to see every time I drove home. Knowing that there are better ways to create the energy we need but that those methods are being suppressed and blocked so these companies can stay in business, without the need to change or innovate. That was hard to deal with. And seeing this symbol of that damage so close to the city I call home was difficult too.

I knew this had to be the location of the next installment of the Dance Warriors project. Jessie Westbrook is a dancer, choreographer, and model. She contacted me about this project and was very passionate about the idea. Read on for more about her and her thoughts on the oil industry, plus the photos!

Dance Warriors – Oil | Denver Dance Photography

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Tell me a bit about yourself.

I have been dancing for 21 years. I’m trained in ballet, pointe, modern, contemporary, jazz, house, and bboy.  I love to spend my free time in the outdoors, hiking, camping, anything that brings me outside. We have a 5-year-old boarder collie aussie mix who is our ever loyal adventure buddy. I teach dance to kids and teens and hope to have my own dance company one day.

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Why are you passionate about the oil industry?

Even though I don’t know much about the oil industry I feel very passionate about changing it because I grew up hearing about the effects of global warming and now we are starting to see it. It is becoming very real and it strikes a huge chord with me when people continue to turn and look the other way, motivated by greed or manipulated by corporations.

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How has dance helped you express yourself? 

Dance has helped me find a way to express myself when words have failed. It has helped me through the hardest years of my life and has been a platform of communication and change. Dance is a part of who I am, helps me find direction and purpose, and empowers me to do the things that I didn’t think I could.

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What do you think is the intersection between art and politics?

Art is a platform to express any message that one feels is important. It is a different type of voice, one that commands a thought process, a conversation.

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Want engaging dance photos to reach new audiences and sell more tickets? Want to be a part of the Dance Warriors project? Contact me here or message me at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

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SPILL | Colorado Theater Photographer

Naropa Unversity’s SPILL is a play about the 2010 BP oil spill and the Deepwater Horizon explosion that caused it. The play shows the tragedy from the perspectives of the oil rig workers, their families, scientists, lawyers, and residents in the gulf region. This piece told a emotional and honest story that delved far deeper than what was heard on the news at the time.

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SPILL is inspired by true events. I spent three years interviewing people affected by the DEEPWATER HORIZON explosion and the resulting BP oil spill of 2010, the largest environmental disaster in United States history. My artistic team has also studied court documents, media coverage, and other found text as source material in our investigation. While most of the dialogue comes directly from these interviews and documents, the piece also includes original writing based on these interviews, as well as conversations, observations, and our firsthand experiences.

The people we have met in the Gulf have changed our lives forever. I had been warned that we should be careful, that the people of Texas and Louisiana might be reluctant to participate in a project on this topic, particularly as an outsider. But in truth, the people we met welcomed us, they were incredibly generous with their time, and they made us feel very much at home. The story of this place and the people is far more complicated than I realized when I first began. Their stories speak to the very complicated and politically charged energy issues of our time.

—Leigh Fondakowski, playwright / director

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CAST

Sondra Blanchard: Narrator, Arleen Weise, Andrea Fleytas, Kerry St. Pé, Ensemble.
Jade Garisch: Shelley Anderson, Ensemble.
Mark Gibson: Mike Williams, Pat O’ Bryan, Michael Brune, Johnathan Henderson, Ensemble.
Joshua Lorris: Bill Anderson, Jimmy Harrell, Steve Bertone, Billy Nungesser, Ensemble.
Michael Sater: Bob Bea, Randy Ezell, Jorey Danos Ensemble.
Kevin Vaught: Keith Jones, Christopher Pleasant, Pat Cambell, Gary Bartholemy, Ensemble.
John Wittbrodt: Jason Anderson, Tony Hayward, Ensemble.
China Young: Lillian Meyer, Mary Landry, Jolene Danos, Ensemble.

CREW

Michael Blendermann: Video Operator
Jake Cacciatore: Set Carpenter
Karen Cruz: Assistant Stage Manager (Lead)
Emma Quarterman: Light Board Operator/Light Design Assistant
Brandon Thomas: Assistant Stage Manager

ARTISTIC COLLABORATORS

Ethelyn Friend & Lorenzo Gonzalez: Dialects
Gary Grundei: Composer
Sarah Lambert: Set Designer
Cameron MacAlpine: Sound Design/Sound Board Operator
Shevek Majors-Peer: Lighting Designer
Colleen Mylott: Assistant Director/Choreography
Jeffrey Sichel: Producer
Leo Soula-Hutchison and Malachi Tharp: Production Stage Manager

SPILL was written and directed by Leigh Fondakowski.
Dramaturgy by: Sarah Lambert, Kelli Simpkins, and Reeva Wortel.
Development: SPILL was originally commissioned by the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
Commissioned and Developed with support from The Ensemble Studio Theatre / Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science and Technology Project.
SPILL premiered on March 14, 2014 at Louisiana State University’s Swine Palace, George Judy, Artistic Director; Kristin Sosnowsky, Managing Director, in Baton Rouge, LA, in association with The Study Group

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Want engaging production photos to reach new audiences and sell more tickets?  Send me a message at jamie@jamiekraus.com. I would love to help tell your story through photos.

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Colorado Gives Day | Where to Donate

Today is Colorado Gives Day, a day of charitable giving throughout our wonderful state. I’ve put together a list of my favorite homegrown non-profit organizations and programs. Whatever you are passionate about, there is a local non-profit that could use your help.

Arts and Culture – Presenting Denver

Art and culture is an important part or any community and Presenting Denver is working to enhance Denver’s connection to dance. Presenting Denver’s mission is to support the art of dance though increased public exposure and the appreciation of movement as an innovative art form by linking education, accessibility and the performance of dance. Presenting Denver’s programs and services enhance the lives of Colorado residents by increasing the accessibility of dance.  You can become a donor or volunteer for Presenting Denver to help support their efforts for years to come.

Health – Colorado LARC Program

The Colorado LARC Program provides access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) for young women. This program has significantly reduced unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and teen birth rates, which saves the state taxpayer money and provides brighter futures for Colorado’s teens. LARCs are some of the most effective methods of contraception and there is no room for user error.

Here’s what the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said about unintended pregnancy:

  • Unintended pregnancies result in approximately 10,000 abortions in Colorado each year.
  • Children born from unplanned pregnancies face a greater risk for poor physical and mental health, child abuse and lower educational attainment.
  • Women with unplanned pregnancies are at greater risk for poor health later in life, including increased likelihood of depression, physical abuse, diabetes and obesity. (https://www.colorado.gov/cdphe/reducing-unintended-pregnancy)

The program is currently fighting for public funding and you can help by writing to your legislature and encouraging them to continue funding the IUD program. Additionally, you can make an private donation to support the program.

Human Services – The Boulder Shelter

Studies have shown that the cost of housing the homeless pays for itself. The Housing First approach reduces the cost of emergency service and other public services by providing free, permanent housing to the homeless. When the chronically homeless are housed, they are better able to treat their mental illnesses and substance abuse, get and keep jobs, and be reunited with their families. This all leads to more productive, happier people and, in turn, boosts the economy.

The Boulder Shelter has a Housing First Program that targets the chronically homeless in Boulder County. The program provides permanent housing, with on-going intensive case management. You can donate to the Boulder Shelter here and specify, in the comments section, that you’d like it to go to the Housing First program.

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Animals – Denver Dumb Friends League

Did you know that homeless animals outnumber homeless people 5 to 1? Thousands of animals are found on the street, rescued from abusers, or turned in by owners who can no longer care for them. The Denver Dumb Friends League has one of the highest placement rates in the country and serves dogs, cats, and horses throughout the state of Colorado. You can donate, volunteer, or adopt to support the Denver Dumb Friends League. Plus they often have deals on adoption fees if you’re looking for your own furry friend.

Environment – Rocky Mountain Conservancy

We are so lucky to live in a state with a stunning National Park in it. People come from all over the country to see the Rockies and they are protected and preserved in our own backyard. Rocky Mountain Conservancy is an organization that supports projects in Rocky Mountain National Park such as building trails, maintaining historic structures, and creating wheelchair accessible trails. Supporting Rocky Mountain Conservancy helps to keep Rocky Mountain National Park beautiful and available for generations to come. You can donate or become a member of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to support Colorado’s National Park.

Happy Giving Colorado!