December 2-4 — Breaking The Rules

At first, classical music and break dancing doesn’t seem like a combination that would elicit sold-out crowds. Yet German dance group the Flying Steps has been captivating international audiences with headspins set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” Lucky for us, the inventive crew kicks off the American leg of its Flying Bach tour with three nights of performances at the Buell Theatre.

December 10 — Last Hurrah

Before Yana Vishnitsky became the head of Jewish Family Service (JFS), she worked as a patent attorney and mechanical engineer in St. Petersburg, Russia. The now 70-year-old never expected to spend 38 years at a refugee resettlement agency in Denver, working her way up from translator and case manager to president and CEO of the nonprofit. But after Vishnitsky fled the Soviet regime because of religious persecution, JFS offered her a job—and she never left. “They became my family, my community, my home,” Vishnitsky says. Now the organization’s matriarch is retiring, leaving behind a legacy that includes the creation of the country’s first mental health program for refugees. Her colleagues are responding with Yana! A Farewell Celebration, held in the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. The bash, which is open to the public, will take the place of JFS’ annual fund-raising gala, Real Hope, and we expect it to match that event’s level of opulence. In Vishnitsky’s words: “They know that I love a good party.”

December 14 – 17 — Carved In Stone Snow

In January, Breckenridge’s International Snow Sculpture Championships will attract snow artists from around the world, but you don’t have to wait until then to get a look at locals’ cool creations. This year, Colorado carvers will host their own festival, the Colorado State Snow Sculpting Competition, a month earlier as part of the inaugural Berthoud Snowfest. The contest has seen other iterations; Steve Mercia first launched it in Loveland in 2011. The location doesn’t really matter in terms of snowfall: Mercia owns a snow-making machine to ensure teams have enough flakes to create sculptures up to 9.5 feet wide and 12 feet tall. The impressive scale of the statues may catch spectators’ eyes, but the judges care more about creativity, technical skill, and expressive impact (i.e., if the design resonates with the community). We’ll put our money on any competitor who carves a life-size Subaru.

December 17 — Tricked-Out Ride

Twenty years ago this month, powder hounds received an early Christmas present when the Telluride/Mountain Village Gondola opened, providing an alternative option to the 20-minute schlep by car from town to the slopes. This year, it’s their children’s turn for a gift: One of the newly refurbished cabins was painted red and now bears a strong resemblance to a certain jolly man’s sleigh. In fact, for one day only, kids can give Santa their wish lists and pose for photo ops with him (and his new ride) in Heritage Plaza.