Dancer gets Olympic tryout |

Dancer gets Olympic tryout

Eben Harrell
Aspen Times Staff Writer

An Aspen dancer has been invited to Athens this month to audition for the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics.

Sarah Pletts, a dancer and performance artist who runs the Living Arts Foundation from her home in Aspen, applied last October to participate in the opening ceremonies organized by Athens Olympic Committee, which solicited applications from across the world.

Pletts, who participated in the opening ceremony at the Winter Olympics in Utah two years ago, was selected to come to final auditions, which will be held Feb. 28 in Greece.

Although she has been performing for 25 years, Pletts said the idea of performing at sports events came recently, when she choreographed a dance on skis with Olympic downhiller Susi Chaffee.

“A dancer is an athlete, but not a competitor,” Pletts said. “It was when I was working with Susi that she showed me that dancing is an integral component of sports.”

Pletts will be auditioning with hundreds of other dancers from across the world. A student of Olympic history, she is optimistic about her chances of selection in Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic tradition.

“The original Olympics was a cultural festival, something I think the Athens committee is very aware of, ” Pletts said. “I am known as an avant-garde artist, but my roots are very much in ancient culture. That should really help me.”

If selected as a dancer, Pletts hopes to convince the Athens committee to incorporate one of her dance routines. Pletts has been working on a duet with a live horse, which she says harks back to Olympic heritage.

“In my studies I discovered that it was a tradition to commission a poet to write an ode to the triumphant horse at the Olympics,” Pletts said. “The dance plays off that tradition.”

Pletts said she is not sure what kind of response a homo-equine duet will get from the committee, but that the idea has so far received tentative support.

Pletts says she will continue teaching her dance class at the Red Brick Arts Center in town, even if selected for the Olympics in August. Right now, she is looking for a sponsor to finance the trip for the audition. She says she has been training rigorously in preparation.

“To actually experience Olympics in the place they started would be a glorious experience for me as an artist and a human being,” she said.

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