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DU alumnae share spotlight in ballet exhibit

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Madeline Phipps

Display includes material from the University's own Carson Brierly Griffin Dance Library

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A new exhibit at the Anderson Academic Commons — “Rising Stars: Denver Civic Ballet and Ballet Guild” — chronicles the compelling story of the Mile High City’s first professional ballet company.

The exhibit is drawn from the University’s Carson Brierly Giffin Dance Library, which contains an extensive collection of materials covering all forms of dance, particularly dance in the Rocky Mountain region.

“Rising Stars” traces the history of the Denver Civic Ballet from its origins in 1958 to its folding in 1979. As Denver’s first professional ballet ensemble, it combined many studios to create one company, something that had never been done before its inception.

Denver Civic Ballet attracted world-renowned artistic directors and guest artists from international companies, such as the American Ballet Theatre. It was funded and promoted by its support organization, the Denver Civic Ballet Guild, an organization that continues to instill a love of performing arts in young people and to support Denver’s preprofessional ballet dancers through the Young Dancer’s Competition.

“Rising Stars” features DU alumnae Michelle O’Bryan, who danced in the Denver Civic Ballet as a prima ballerina; Gwen Bowen, founder of Gwen Bowen School for the Dance Arts; Lillian Covillo and Freidann Parker, co-founders of the Colorado Ballet; and Mary Theresa Gusthurst, founder of the Mary Theresa Gusthurst School of Ballet.

Beulah Cherne, a founding member of the Denver Ballet Guild and a longtime donor and friend of DU, also is featured in the exhibit.

The Carson Brierly Griffin Dance Library covers many forms of dance, including social, theater, ethnic, ritual and dance-drama. It also includes resources on theater history and design, costumes, kinesiology and dance therapy.

A reception and the premiere of an original documentary are scheduled for 6–8 p.m. Friday, June 10, in the Special Events Room at the Anderson Academic Commons, 2150 E. Evans Ave. The exhibit continues through Nov. 30. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

For video clips and photos from the exhibit, visit the dance library’s Facebook page.