January 19, 2023

Community Spotlight: Meet Marisa Hollingsworth, Executive & Artistic Director of Presenting Denver

Tai Bickham


This Friday, January 20, and Saturday, January 21, 2023, MCA Denver and Presenting Denver will showcase From the Bottom to the Top, Dance in The Dirty South. Inspired by MCA Denver’s current exhibition, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, performers in Denver’s dance community will take over the galleries, creating movement through the use of alternative spaces, exploring and responding to various works on view.  

Presenting Denver is a non-profit organization that represents the diverse Denver dance community regardless of level of experience bringing a diverse and inclusive representation of dance to Denver audiences. I had the opportunity to interview Marisa Hollingsworth, Executive & Artistic Director of Presenting Denver, to learn more about the organization and its upcoming performances at the museum. 

dancers at MCA exhibition, The Dirty South
Image: Performing artists Lisa Engelken, Natalia Roberts, and Melvin Jones, in From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012, Rodney McMillian (American, born 1969), vinyl, thread, wood, paint, light bulb. Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles Photo by: Martha Wirth Photography

Hi Marisa, how are you doing? 

I am great! Getting really excited about this weekend of collaboration with the MCA. 

Could you share more about Presenting Denver and what inspired you to form an organization that supports the Colorado dance community?

Presenting Denver was actually founded in 2013 by Meredith Hutson, who saw a need for an informational and events “hub” that could connect our community better with all of the beautiful and dynamic Colorado dance companies we are blessed to have. Our first Presenting Denver Dance Festival was in 2018, and I took over the organization in August of 2020. We have resurfaced post-Covid with a ton of energy and great projects, including this partnership with the MCA. At its core, Presenting Denver aims to create points of connection between Colorado dance companies and the community…it’s especially important to help smaller and more resource-constrained companies get their talent to the masses!

We’re excited for From the Bottom to the Top, dance performances at the museum this weekend! What was the inspiration behind curating this dance performance? 

We are excited too! The inspiration actually came from a fellow Presenting Denver board member, who had been a part of a walking festival in New York and we talked about creating that in Denver at some point. The hope is by bringing dance closer to people, allowing people to experience dance in unexpected places, and watching dancers interpret art around them, that the idea of dance can expand in people’s minds and become something new and exciting to them. Dance is for everyone, it can be anywhere, and this weekend it is definitely at The Dirty South exhibition at the MCA

Dancer in The Dirty South exhibition
Image: Natalia Roberts in front Red Rambling Rose Spring Song,1976, Alma Thomas, acrylic on canvas, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, Framed: 59 x 41 1/8 x 2 1/4. Photo by Martha Wirth Photography

How do you see dance functioning on a larger, collective scale in bringing the community together?  

Great question. Events like this definitely help by taking dance out of the auditorium and into people’s lives in new ways. Think of the impact things like flash mobs had, or Tiktok is having on dance. It is an amazing outlet for expression, and it serves as a connector of people and communities. As we heal from COVID (“Healing” is the theme of the 2023 Dance Festival!) I believe that we all need more connection and we can achieve that by getting dance integrated into more and more experiences. The more creative and out-of-the-box ideas and collaborations that we pursue, the larger the scale we can impact people. 

Who are some of the dancers that will be performing in From the Bottom to the Top: Dance in The Dirty South

From the Bottom to the Top, Dance in The Dirty South, will feature five Artists performing solos, duets, and trios around the museum in relation to the artwork on The Dirty South exhibition.  The dancers are: 

Natalia Roberts

– Melvin Jones of Breaking Barriers

Nu-World Contemporary Danse Theater

Jarret Rashad and Guest

School of Breaking

Dancer in front of artwork in The Dirty South at MCA Denver
Image: Lisa Engelken in front of The Seasons - Summer, 2019 Meko, Michi, acrylic, aerosol, graphite, gold leaf, latex and oil pastel, Alan Avery Art Company, 90 1/2 x 158 1/4 x 1 1/2. Photo by Martha Wirth Photography

How can individuals become involved in supporting Presenting Denver or becoming a performer in the organization? 

Anyone can become involved with Presenting Denver, and we so appreciate our volunteers and supporters! You can donate to the organization via our website ,, or you can sponsor an event like our 2023 Dance Festival.  If you are interested in supporting us through volunteering, you could become an Ambassador for the organization. Ambassadors do a lot for us, they are writers (someone who represents Presenting Denver at a dance event, and writes a review that we then publish on our website), photographers/videographers, and board committee members. If you are a dance company, you can become a member of the organization which gives you access to our Events Calendar to post and upload events that your company is putting on in Colorado, as well as our informational directory where you can host your own company page. More information can be found on our website,

It’s a new year! What are you excited about for Presenting Denver in 2023? 

Another great question! As mentioned earlier, I am very excited about our 2023 Dance Festival, which will be June 10th and 11th in the Byron Theater, co-presented by the Robert and Judi Newman Center. We have an incredible lineup of dance companies, including a few surprise special guests performing pieces that I can only describe as “once-in-a-lifetime.” We are also in the planning stages for many more unique collaborations and projects, with our mission always in the forefront…to provide support and visibility for our Colorado dancers, and more seamless connections between those dancers and our community. Dance is for everyone, it is everywhere…come take the leap with us, and join the movement! 

dancer in front of artwork at MCA Denve
Image: Melvin Jones in front of Coronation Theme: Organon, 2008, Nadine Robinson (American, born England, 1968), speakers, soundsystem and mixed media. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, given by John F. Wieland Jr. in memory of Marion Hill, 2008.175, Image: © Nadine Robinson. Photo by Martha Wirth Photography


From the Bottom to the Top: Dance in The Dirty South performances take place on Friday, January 20, 2023 at 7pm, and on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 2pm. Click links for additional information. 

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, explores the aesthetic legacies and traditions of Black Culture in the African American South as seen through the lens of contemporary Black musical expression. The exhibition is on view through February 5, 2023.