We had the good fortune of connecting with Laurel Winton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laurel, how does your business help the community?
My business cultivates the skillset and talents of our local artists to produce high caliber dance for the community of Aspen, CO DanceAspen is composed of six local artists and growing. It is our mission to produce innovative works, bringing in the leading creators of our time to Aspen to work with our artists, to educate our community on the importance of professional dance, and to give aspiring artists a reachable goal. DanceAspen elevates the cultural identity of our community, and draws some of the best artist in our industry to our little mountain town.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My professional ballet career started when I was 17. In the span of 13 years I danced professionally with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet X of Philadelphia and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. I played “Penny” on the National Broadway Tour of Dirty Dancing, and Co Starred on the CBS TV series “Bull”. I was in the middle of a fantastic career as an artist of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet when the pandemic hit. The company permanently closed and this was what inspired me to start DanceAspen. My fellow artists and I had no place in the community anymore, and we had lost a hugely important aspect of our local community. It took a lot of discipline, dedication, focus and persistence to be successful as a professional dancer, and I applied the same mindset to starting the nonprofit. Some of my most fulfilling career decisions grew out of the biggest risks, and I have to say starting a nonprofit dance company in the middle of a pandemic has both been the biggest risk and the most fulfilling decision of my life so far.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Aspen is a magical place. I had lived in big cities my whole life and never saw myself living in a small town, but Aspen feels sometimes much bigger that what it is because of what it can offer. If i had visitors on the winter, I would take them downhill skiing on Aspen Mountain or Cross CountrySkiing to Pine Creek Cookhouse. I love the Alpine Bistro, a quant little french restaurant in the core of town. Its vercy cozy, the food is delicious and the decor transports you to the alps. If I was playing tour guide in the summer, I would take them on a bike ride through the Rio Grande, to a concert at Belly Up or a Broadway show at Theatre Aspen, and introduce them to one of the many cultural festivals that run through the summer (Music Festival, Ideas Festival, Food and Wine). These summer festivals are some of the biggest draws of Aspen, as they are composed of world class musicians, intellectuals, and chefs/ Sommeliers.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my DanceAspen family. This is everyone who believed in me and helped me get the organization lifted off the ground. It took a village but you know who you are!
This family includes our founding artists and board members, nonprofit leaders who stepped in to be my mentors, and the local businesses and individuals who believed enough in this to provide the financial support to make our dream a reality,
photo #1 of: Founder/ Executive Director Laurel Winton photo cred: Luis Alvarez Photo #2 of: Artists- Matthew Gilmore, Anthony Tiedeman, Kaya Wolsey, Sammy Altenau, Katie Bolanos, Madeleine Scott.