Breckenridge International Festival of Arts begins Aug. 12

Created by Dutch artists Close-Act Theatre, Saurus is a spectacular piece of street theater that features stilt-walkers outfitted in 18-foot-tall dinosaur-like costumes.
B.Holtmann / Courtesy Breck Create |

Featured BIFA Artists + Projects

(asterisk denotes a Colorado premiere)

L’HOMME CIRQUE* with David Dimitri

Aug. 11, 5 p.m.; Aug. 12-14, 11 a.m. + 2 p.m. | South Gondola Lot

$20 Adults, $10 Kids

L’homme Cirque is a one-man circus featuring an innovative combination of acrobatics, music and dance, including everything from a human cannon ball to a climactic high-wire act, with our spectacular mountains as a backdrop. Acclaimed Swiss circus artist David Dimitri will turn the South Gondola Lot into his own high-flying playground, as he pitches a tent and performs a breathtaking solo show.

THE SWARM* by Tasha Lewis

Aug. 12-21 | on view daily | Downtown Breckenridge | Free

Bridging boundaries between art, nature and everyday life, Tasha Lewis’s ephemeral installations consist of thousands of cyanotype butterflies printed on fabric and embedded with magnets, invading metallic surfaces around town. A project that engages local volunteers to construct the butterflies, the artist will unleash her spectacular swarm and create swirling formations of colorful winged creatures throughout Breckenridge.

THE HERD* by Tasha Lewis

Aug. 12–21 | on view daily | Old Masonic Hall | Free

Tasha Lewis’s installation, The Herd, consists of sculptures of antelopes, impalas and gazelles leaping high through the air. Many animals appear to emerge from, or disappear into, surrounding walls. The animals’ unexpected placement, tumultuous movement and playful coloring will spark curiosity, engaging viewers with the beauty of both natural and artificial worlds. Complementary works by Andrew Dengate and Robert Wertz will be featured in the upstairs gallery.

SILA: THE BREATH OF THE WORLD* by John Luther Adams with Steven Schick and Breckenridge Music Festival Musicians

Aug. 13 | 4 p.m. | Riverwalk Center Lawn | Free

Stroll the Riverwalk Center lawn and experience the “ecological listening” that this unique composition by John Luther Adams celebrates. Orchestra musicians will be set loose from the conductor’s baton and allowed to play at their own tempo, with just one condition: each sustained tone or rising phrase lasts the length of a full exhalation. Co-presented with Breckenridge Music Festival.

THE SAFEKEEPING OF MEMORY with the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra featuring Steven Schick, conductor; Kathryn Hatmaker, violin; and Maya Beiser, cello

Aug. 13 | 7:30 p.m. | Riverwalk Center | $40, $35, $25

Reflect on the human connection to the natural and spiritual world in this special performance featuring a combination of video projections, written word and music. Maya Beiser performs World to Come and Kate Hatmaker follows with Rest These Hands, enhanced by Josh Dorman’s stop-motion animations. Guest appearance by Lake Dillon Theatre Company. Co-presented with Breckenridge Music Festival.

YOGA WITH THE BIRDS with Steven Schick and Breckenridge Music Festival Musicians

Aug. 14 | 8 a.m. | Riverwalk Center Lawn | Free

Enjoy the music of nature and a gentle stretch with Meta Yoga Studios in the quiet mountain morning landscape. Starting during the Savasana of the class, the orchestra’s flute and percussion section will perform songbirdsongs by environmental composer John Luther Adams. Adams’ songful combination of piccolos and percussion will start your day with a connection between mind and body, self and surroundings. Co-presented with Breckenridge Music Festival.


Aug. 14 | 6 p.m. | Riverwalk Center | $15 Adults, $5 Kids

Part party, part screening, this event invites cycling enthusiasts of all ages to trade four wheels for two and ride their bikes to Riverwalk Center to enjoy a showcase of independent bicycle-themed films from around the world. Co-presented with Breckenridge Film Festival, in partnership with Filmed by Bike.


Aug. 17 | 7:30 p.m. | Riverwalk Center | $30 Advance, $35 day of show

Calexico is no stranger to negotiating borders. For the better part of two decades, nine albums and countless trips around the globe, Joey Burns and John Convertino have crossed musical barriers with their band, embracing a multitude of diverse styles. Their latest album, Edge of the Sun, continues to bring lonesome alternative country into collusion with Spanish horns, Portuguese fado, surf guitar and haunting strains of ambient jazz.

SAURUS + STX* by Close-Act Theatre

Aug. 17–21 | 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. | Blue River Plaza | Free

The biggest beasts that ever walked the earth will stomp their way through downtown Breckenridge, turning Blue River Plaza into a prehistoric landscape. Created by Dutch artists Close-Act Theatre, Saurus is a spectacular piece of street theater that features stilt-walkers outfitted in 18-foot-tall dinosaur-like costumes. On alternating days, the company will perform STX, a choreographed drumming show featuring percussionists moving synchronously on stilts through the streets of downtown. Saurus performs on Aug. 17, 19 and 21; STX performs on Aug. 18 and 20.


Aug. 18 | 7:30 p.m. | Riverwalk Center | $35, $25

The Moth is an acclaimed nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling. Each show is composed of simple, old-fashioned storytelling on thoroughly modern themes and every story is told live on stage, without notes. The Moth, a favorite of NPR listeners, makes its Breckenridge debut with an all-star lineup of favorite tellers and local gems, each with a ten-minute story of their own. Speaker lineup to be announced. Presented in partnership with KUNC.

BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity*

Aug. 19 | 7:30 p.m. | Riverwalk Center | Free

Propelled by Elizabeth Streb’s edict that “anything too safe is not action,” the STREB company challenges the assumptions of art, injury, gender, aging and human possibility. Revealing the passions behind the STREB dancers’ bruises and broken noses, this documentary film inspires audiences that are hungry for a fiercer existence in the world. Elizabeth Streb and company members will conduct a post-screening Q & A.

ASCENSION + QUAKE* by STREB Extreme Action Company

Aug. 20 | 12 p.m. + 2 p.m. | Riverwalk Center Lawn | Free

In Ascension, members of STREB Extreme Action Company scale a 21-foot long ladder while it rotates at varying speeds, showcasing the mental and physical strength of the performers. In Quake, the dancers hurl, tumble and perform feats of sleight of hand on a 2x16 foot sprung floor that acts as an explosive springboard.

SEA (Singular Extreme Actions)* by STREB Extreme Action Company

Aug. 21 | 7:30 p.m. | Riverwalk Center | $35 Adults, $10 Kids

Created by Elizabeth Streb, the Evel Knievel of Dance, this daredevil event nimbly weaves dance, extreme sports, circus arts and Hollywood-style stunt work into a must-see performance that explores the boundaries of force, gravity, action and reaction. Their cutting-edge, dangerous talent was featured at the 2012 London Olympics and is sure to take your breath away.

Breckenridge Creative Arts will close out its summer festival season with the mother of all grand finales. Returning after its debut last summer, the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) is a 10-day multi-arts celebration, bringing acrobatics, music, dance, film, street theater, art displays and more to the town. Multiple events are scheduled each day during the festival, both ticketed and free, at venues and sites throughout Breckenridge.

“We really like the idea of closing the summer with a big, spectacular multi-arts festival,” said Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of Breck Create. “There’s some really thoughtful projects on the season, and there’s just some novelty, entertainment. … Our audience member can dive as deep as they want to, and that’s what makes a multi-arts festival successful. You have this very eclectic mix of, one night you have an indie folk band playing mariachi, and the next day you have dinosaur puppets, while you can see an art installation on a trail.”


The festival debuted in 2015 with a positive response from the community and guests. Woulfe said he hadn’t seen this model of festival in the area, or even the state, and wanted to bring an event to Breckenridge that was multi-disciplinary and family friendly, providing something for everyone.

“This BIFA festival has this sense of adventure and creativity within it, and I felt like that’s why people live and visit this place — that sense of adventure, high adrenaline, and creativity and things like that,” he said. “I really felt like for our guests and our locals, it would be relevant to them.”

With the launch of the festival last summer, Breck Create brought in The Fruits, an acrobatic company from Australia, started the Trail Mix series, which combines art, music, hiking and biking along the trails of Breckenridge, and more than 100 trees were painted blue to create a dialogue about the rapid global deforestation.

“The response was really overwhelming — the number of volunteers that came forward — so it was great,” Woulfe said.

After a successful first year, Breck Create immediately began planning BIFA 2016, and how to improve on things that worked and retire things that didn’t work.

The Trail Mix series returns this year in partnership with Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF), which places environmental installations and musicians along the Illinois Creek, Iowa Hill and Moonstone trails. This year Breck Create has amped up the series due to the popularity.

“It was incredible just how that resonated, and throughout the season that component was very much beloved,” Woulfe said. “It was these found experiences, where some people definitely went to the concert, went to see the installation, but a lot of people were just biking, hiking, walking, and they stumbled upon this experience.”

On top of their work with the Trail Mix series, the BMF will be hosting several performances throughout the festival.

“We are partnering with Breck Create … because it allows us to explore a number of unique venues that are specific to Breckenridge, the trails being one of them, really utilizing all of the cultural assets that are here at our fingertips, and presenting music in ways that allow audiences that might not be interested in going inside and hearing a traditional concert in a traditional performance setting the opportunity to engage with music in a different way,” said Tamara Nuzzaci Park, BMF executive director. “It’s really a dynamic partnership using a lot of different elements and angles using our core musicians in a variety of ways.”

After the BMF Orchestra’s concert on Saturday, Aug. 13, it will be hosting Thought Bubbles, a late-night presentation at Old Masonic Hall at 10 p.m. There will be a champagne tasting followed by a conversation and performance with conductor and percussionist Steven Schick and celloist Maya Beiser. Schick is also playing a piece for electronic playback using the human body as an instrument.


Organizers look at a variety of things when choosing the performances and pieces for the festival, and work to find events that may not traditionally fall into their annual calendar. They also want to bring in unique performances that are participatory, where the audience can be socially engaged, such as an exhibit by Tasha Lewis. “The Swarm” recruits community members to help install thousands of cyanotype butterflies printed on fabric and embedded with magnets on metallic surfaces around town.

“We experimented a little last year with that, and we found people loved it,” Woulfe said. “They felt like they were a part of the art, and they are. In many ways they are helping create this experience.”

Music was big on their list, with the festival featuring performances by Breckenridge Music Festival musicians in both the Trail Mix series and several other events in the Riverwalk Center and on the lawn. Calexico, an Americana indie rock band, will play a ticketed event at the Riverwalk Center on Aug. 17.

Street theater is also on the lineup, with free performances by Saurus, featuring stilt-walkers in 18-foot-tall dinosaur-like costumes in the Blue River Plaza. Nonprofit organization The Moth will bring a lineup of storytellers for a ticketed performance at the Riverwalk.

Another highlight is a one-man circus with Switzerland’s David Dimitri. A Colorado premiere, his performance features a combination of acrobatics, music and dance, with Dimitri even becoming a human cannonball.

Installations will be kept on the trails after the festival is over during the fall months, so guests can stumble across these exhibits even after the festival is over.

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