DENVER -- When you are in the performing arts, you want your work to create a buzz.
Last night’s opening ceremony at the 52nd Annual Colorado Thespian Conference did just that.
It involved some scantily clad male pole dancers, wearing what are called “bootie” shorts.
The dance was a hit among students.
“I really appreciate all different kinds of art forms, especially dance,” said Macey Frers, a Junior at Columbine High School. “What they did was incredible. It was a sport. It was beautiful.”
Parents had a different reaction.
“I was shocked,” one parent told Denver7. “I’ve seen a lot, and my three children (a freshman, junior and senior) have been exposed to many things, but I felt this wasn’t an appropriate place for this.”
Another parent, Michelle Craig, said, “I’m not certain when pole dancing in front of a massive room filled with minors became ‘art,’ but I’m pretty sure most of those in attendance aren’t even old enough to get into a venue where this type of ‘act' would usually be performed.”
Those parents are getting no argument from convention organizers.
“The event that occurred is not what we contracted for,” said Colorado Thespians Chapter Director Tami LoSasso. “As soon as we had in place, in our minds and agendas, what was going on, we did try to stop that performance as quickly as possible.”
LoSasso said they apologized to attendees and reiterated that the integrity of Colorado Thespians is about students, parents and teachers having a positive experience in art.
“[We] never want to make them feel uncomfortable, or not included, in this wonderful environment of creation,” she said.
Another organizer told Denver7, “This isn’t a story,”
LoSasso declined to provide the name of the dance troupe, but said it wasn’t kids that were performing, it was adults.
Other students told Denver7 that hubbub about the pole dancers was much ado about nothing.
“A lot of people were cheering,” said Emily Gallagher, a sophomore at Columbine. “I know at one point they were asking if people were offended and a couple of people in the crowd said they were, but mostly everyone was OK with it.”
“I know a lot of the moms were concerned about it,” said another student, "[but] I thought it was cool to see. I didn’t think it was over the top.”
When asked her reaction to the student’s reaction, LoSasso replied, “I think perceptions change as we grow and we age and at Colorado Thespians, we’re all very much about looking at art that makes us talk and makes us think and makes us wonder. I just can’t reiterate enough that this was not the performance that we had initially planned for.”
LoSasso added there are thousands of students who learn a great deal from attending the convention.
“Colorado State Thespians is in its 52nd year,” she said. “We give over $4-million in scholarships every year. There are over 64 colleges and universities that attend and provide those scholarships.”
The conference, which includes 100 workshops, will continue through December 3 at the Colorado Convention Center.