Q + A with Choreographer Garrett Ammon


The title of your piece is "Short Trip Home." Returning to Memphis is a homecoming for you. How do you think your time here informed the way you choreograph?

Yes, for eight years Memphis was home, and Ballet Memphis was where I discovered my voice as a choreographer, not to mention where I met my wife and partner, Dawn Fay.

I had always been passionate about music, so living in Memphis allowed me to immerse myself in American music in a way that few other places could. I also had the privilege of dancing so much great work—Trey McIntyre, Mark Godden, Lila York, Julia Adam, George Balanchine, and many others—that influenced my aesthetics, perspectives, and priorities. I also had the pleasure of directing Interiorworks for its first eight seasons, providing me invaluable experience for my future as an artistic director.

"Short Trip Home" premiered at Ballet Memphis almost exactly 20 years ago. Would it be any different if you were to choreograph it today?

It would certainly be different, I’m a different artist today than 20 years ago. But there is great beauty in revisiting earlier work. "Short Trip Home" lives independently of me in many ways now. My responsibility is to convey its spirit and intention to a new generation of dancers so that they can bring it to life for an audience living in this moment. I’m thrilled that Ballet Memphis has brought it back for its anniversary.

We took parts of "Short Trip Home" to Highlands, N.C. on a tour this past August where it was incredibly well-received. We mentioned that it has been around for 2 decades now. Where has it been performed, and how do you think the audiences in different locations react?

If my recollection is correct, this will be the third time "Short Trip Home" has been presented for Memphis audiences. Additionally, Ballet Memphis took it to Saint-Sauveur, Quebec for a choreography competition, and a companion work, titled "Sliding Down," to a competition in Palm Desert, California. It’s always been a pleasure to see how positively audiences respond to it. The music is infectious and the narrative is deeply relatable, regardless of place.

The music is central to this work – did you hear the music first and choreograph to it, or was the arrangement in your mind and you searched for the right music?

The music came first, for sure. The first time I heard the album, it captured me. I love how the music's folk roots are embraced and celebrated while applying the rigor and clarity of classical training. I think I have spent my entire career applying that same philosophy to my choreography.

See "Short Trip Home" in Winter Mix February 24-26, 2023 at Playhouse on the Square. Tickets available here!

Watch a short interview about "Short Trip Home" with Ballet Memphis Artistic Director Steven McMahon here.


Garrett Ammon began his tenure as Artistic Director of Wonderbound (Denver, Colorado) in 2007. Under his direction, the organization has been transformed into an open laboratory for cross disciplinary exploration and creation. He has been recognized for his work as both an artist and leader through a Denver Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts & Culture, a University of Denver Dance Archive Legends of Dance Award and a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Livingston Fellowship.

Having choreographed and directed more than 80 works across two decades, Ammon has developed a trademark aesthetic that seamlessly blends tradition with adventurous new ideas. He keeps Wonderbound continually engaged in collaborative endeavors with Colorado’s finest arts organizations including Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Central City Opera, the Colorado Symphony, Curious Theatre Company, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Mizel Arts &Culture Center, and Newman Center Presents, among many others.

In addition, Ammon’s deep belief in the value of live music as an integral part of the dance experience keeps Wonderbound actively creating with a wide range of independent musicians and composers like Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe, Ofer Ben-Amots, Chimney Choir, Confluence String Quartet, Ian Cooke Band, Flobots, Tom Hagerman, Jesse Manley and His Band, PaperBird, and Clay Rose.

Always pushing the boundaries of dance and the performance experience, Ammon brings an eclectic range of other collaborators into Wonderbound projects as well. These individuals include visual artists Eric Dallimore, Mark Allen Henderson, Andrea Pliner and Tom Varani as well as poet Michael J. Henry, digital artist Kristopher Collins, photographer Amanda Tipton, illusionist and mentalist Professor Phelyx, and perfumist Michelle Roark.

As a dancer, Ammon was a member of Houston Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet Memphis and Trey McIntyre Project where he toured to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Vail International Dance Festival, HIDC’s Dance Salad and Wolf Trap.

Ammon lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and muse, Dawn Fay. They have worked alongside each other continuously since they first met in 1999.

Learn more about Ammon by visiting the Wonderbound website.

Photo by Mark Sink and Kristen Hatgi Sink