The line to buy tickets to Wednesday's Collaborative Dance Concert at the Community Concert Hall was so long that the performance was delayed by a quarter of an hour to shoehorn everyone in. But then the audience was overwhelmingly students, and they always come late.
They also bring an energetic audience reaction, much clapping and cheering, especially when the music went up tempo, the drums played, the women dancers shook it or any dancers stomped.
The concert was the opening event of the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association's annual festival, which has brought 200 people from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming to the Fort Lewis College campus.
They've come for four days of theater performances, workshops and readings.
Although theater companies are coming into town to perform, only one was in this concert. Sixteen of the 17 dances were choreographed and danced by multiple Durango companies.
About 70 dancers performed. Their friends and family might be one key to the packed house.
The one exception was the Red Rocks Dance Club from Denver, whose four members danced a dark, original circus-themed work which they called "Obskurous Kirkos" set to a soundtrack aptly called "Chaotic Clarity" featuring crying babies, a calliope, laughs and screams.
Fort Lewis College Dance Co-Motion and Durango Dance opened with "Toy Story," a work for 13 performers with toys like Raggedy Ann, Barbie, a ballerina, Ninjas, GI Janes, and robots coming to life to a wonderfully varied soundtrack.
The characters allowed, even demanded, varied choreography from May Dansie. This was a crowd pleaser with stomping and drumming and carrying on as toys would.
Three hugely varied solos were all great successes. Daphne Hamilton from Dance in the Rockies did a classical dance matched perfectly to the haunting "Simple Gifts" by Alison Kraus and Yo-Yo Ma. The dance was choreographed by Frances Rosser Taylor who has taught Hamilton since she was 8 years old.
Vonita Remington from FLC Dance Co-Motion picked up the pace with "Caribbean Soul," which she danced to "Numba 1 (Tide Is High)." She held the stage with a strong, sexy, smart presence. I was cheered to see a round dancer who was even more compelling than her pared-down colleagues.
The third choreographer/solo dancer was Lisa Bodwalk of the Dance Center whose moving interpretation of the profound truth of "Trusting Life" got its message across with no hesitation.
The crowd favorite and mine was Judy Austin's choreography of "Paula" based on Isabel Allende's autobiographical writing.
Lourdes Carrasco narrated with tender expressiveness while Lexy Silva danced a profound Paula leaving her mother for the ancestors.
The FLC faculty and dancers were the performers, and the most moving line was "Farewell Paula woman. Welcome Paula spirit."
I hope this production stays in the repertory forever.
Only because of space, I can't describe the rest of the dances, but there wasn't a dud among them. Durango has become an outstanding dance town, and the concert's director Anne Berg Pattillo can be proud of the array of talent she assembled and the performance they brought to fruition.
The lighting was simple, put together in a day, Patillo said, the scenery nonexistent and the recorded soundtrack fun.
All of the boys and the parents in the audience who were clutching roses for their dancers no doubt found good use for them.