Zikr Dance's 'Lifting the Veil' brings metaphysical ballet to the Dairy Arts Center

Kalene McCort, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
·4 min read

Apr. 9—As restrictions loosen and vaccines are administered, in-house performances are starting to return to area venues.

Stretching far beyond the essence of "Swan Lake," productions by Zikr Dance Ensemble are known to leave audiences in awe. Melding a Cirque du Soleil vibe with a metaphysical mood, the contemporary dance company continues to attract a fan base eager to see productions that stray from tradition, yet incorporate the refined grace of ballet.

"Lifting the Veil," the latest offering from Artistic Director David Taylor — who founded Zikr in 2009 — features breathtaking film projections and digital graphic effects created by cutting-edge visual artist Travis Powell of Denver multimedia design company Deep Space Drive-In.

Zikr's local tour kicked off with a preview performance Wednesday at the Southridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch.

While the majority of upcoming performances have sold out, including Monday's date at the Dairy Arts Center, interested viewers can stream the show later this month. Dates for the virtual option will be posted on the company's site.

As of Thursday, a limited amount of tickets were still available to Saturday's 7:30 p.m. show at Denver Ballet Theatre Academy in Littleton. Tickets start at $18.12.

With the high demand for tickets, organizers have added another show on April 18, at 7 p.m., at Lakewood Cultural Center. Tickets are $30.

"Zikr," comes from the Arabic word meaning "reminding oneself" and is a ritual prayer practiced by Muslim mystics. Performances by the innovative Denver-based company, that bears the same name, have a ceremonial quality not usually found in typical dance productions.

At times, one feels as though they are getting a glimpse into the practices of some ancient or future society.

Fusing intriguing visuals with acrobatic wonder and dramatic musical scores, a Zikr production usually manages to be one cloaked in palpable mystique, international flair and raw edge.

The latest program will allow audiences to also get a taste of the troupe's two critically acclaimed works, "Oracle" and "Runes."

In 1979, Taylor founded the David Taylor Dance Theatre — Denver's original contemporary ballet company. Throughout his career, the prolific choreographer has created over 100 original works and shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

We caught up with Taylor — who has been professionally involved in the Colorado dance community for the last 50 years — to find out how it feels to once again bring his work to area stages, at what age he began his journey into dance and what's next for the company.

Daily Camera: I imagine this year has been challenging with so many live productions being canceled due to the pandemic. How does it feel to finally have dancers back on the stage in front of live audiences?

David Taylor: Simply fantastic. We had a greater than usual turnout for auditions, as everybody wanted to get back to performing and consequently we have the strongest cast that Zikr has ever assembled.

DC: What inspired "Lifting the Veil?"

DT: I have a hard time explaining this. I often don't know where the ideas come from. I feel honestly that the ideas come from some other place than from myself. Of course — through my metaphysical studies — I have been aware of the idea of the "veil" that separates the physical from the spiritual. Something germinated in my subconscious to explore this idea.

DC: What can audiences expect from this production? I read that there will be film projections and digital graphic effects.

DT: Zikr always uses slide projections. This year we are adding digital graphic projections to "Lifting The Veil." But I don't want audiences to "expect" anything. I prefer they simply open themselves to the experience and take away from it their own unique intuitive experience.

DC: I know your career in dance spans several decades. But, I'm curious what drew you to the dance form initially. Do you recall any a-ha moments when you knew this art form would play a significant role in your life?

DT: I had no idea, never even thought of dance until I was about 20. My spiritual mentor here in Denver, Richard Denny, who then was dancing with Colorado Ballet, got me started.

DC: After this show wraps, what's next for Zikr? Are you working on new choreography and planning future shows?

DT: We plan a fall tour of rural Colorado communities on the Western Slope.