Last week, I was fortunate enough to finish out my time in Colorado before returning to Minnesota for the summer teaching elementary school and adult students in the small mountain community of Paonia. I thought I had found real-life Everwood. Turns out, this town is even smaller! But what it does have that Everwood did not appear to: Kombucha in the grocery store, several farm-to-table restaurants, townsfolk with dreads, tango classes, a locally volunteer-run public radio station, an independent newspaper, and arts center, an artists retreat and countless other hippy-hipster-appreciating-art kind of things. I was pretty surprised!
You know what else it has? 4H club signs, four old dudes bullshitting in the gas station lobby (that’s right, I said ‘the’), fruit orchards and wineries, several churches and several bars and an American Legion. The local-artsy-enviroconscious meets super tight-knit local small town vibe is really incredible. I definitely think that later in life, if I had done the other things, I could easily enjoy the laid back vibe of a town like this, teaching and promoting dance. I enjoyed my little conversations with locals, from the young fella who had just done his first day as the manager of the radio station, to the 90 year old WWII vet who had better posture than me pushing his cart around the (singular) grocery store.
These little encounters sort of make me wish I could live in a place like this. Maybe some day. Maybe not. For now, I’ll just settle for being grateful that I had a lovely little week in Paonia sharing the gift of dance. I’m looking forward to a great summer of choreographic generation, performance, scholarly conferences and teaching. While I’ve got plenty lined up, I’d also be happy to add more great opportunity to my plate if you or anyone you know has needs for a jazz and American vernacular dance specialist!