Photo of a woman in the middle of a hula hoop performance. She is using two hoops of different sizes, which are illuminated by multicolored LED lights. She is wearing a black sleeveless leotard and she is wearing a mask as a coronavirus precaution.


A Well-Elevated Militia

When we asked Denver’s Rainbow Militia to show us what democracy looks like, they responded with dance, poetry, and song. You’re going to want to see this.

I wish I could tell you that the trio of really-quite-wonderful things you’re about to look at came out of me sitting down and doing many hours of planning and brainstorming. But no, no, that’d be a lie. 

See, I’d been hearing about this “immersive theater troupe” called Rainbow Militia for a while, a bunch of artists, singers, acrobats, dancers, magicians—a circus, basically!—and wanted to get them into something here at History Colorado. They’d be absolutely spectacular, I just knew it! So, would it be as part of our Colorado Day festivities? Would they stand on stilts and do magic tricks on the corner of Broadway and Ellsworth? Maybe hang from the rafters in the History Colorado Center’s atrium and do acrobatics?

Then the pandemic hit, and the ideas for plugging the Militia into something fell apart, and I had no more ideas for them… But I think it’s clear, as you’ll see, that me getting out of the way and letting Amber Blais, Staza Stone, and the rest of their comrades who work with the Militia use their own ingenuity to create this really-quite-wonderful thing—three of them, three really-quite-wonderful things, no less!—ended up being for the best. 

And the really-quite-wonderful things in question are three short films, each of which take some kind of inspiration from the quirky set of images History Colorado has been employing to invite folks in to participate fully in our series exhibitions, events, and experiences designed to help you think about what democracy looks like today. 

Some of it is movement. Some of it, song and spoken word. Some of it’s all three. All of it is entirely original, moving, and absolutely fantastic.


Dance by Khadijah Smith

Drums by Omar Mansour


“Gypsy Rip” by Los Mocochetes

Joshua Abeyta, Nicole Moore-Abeyta, Jozer Guerrero, Eli “Bass” Montoya-Pablo, and Jon “Wicked J” Rubio

Hula hoops by Saza Stone


“Fit To Be Tied” by Stephen Brackett

Aerial performance by Amber Blais

All video cinematography and editing by Daniel Sharkey

They really are quite wonderful. 


Further Reading:

Get the word from Stephen Brackett in this spotlight from The Colorado Magazine. It’s all part of History Colorado’s This Is What Democracy Looks Like initiative.

More from The Colorado Magazine

Vision and Visibility  Kathryn Redhorse, director of the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, reflects on 2020 as a potential turning point in American Indian and Alaska Native communities’ long struggle for visibility, acknowledgment, and social justice.

A Big, Complex, and Incomplete Story of the Vote  In the fall of 2018, I started working on plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. As we mark this occasion on August 26, what I thought would feel like an ending to this work feels like just the beginning.

Health, Recreation, Education, and Uplift: Lincoln Hills and Black Recreation in the Colorado Mountains  When temperatures soared in cramped, noisy cities, Colorado’s higher elevations promised chilly nights and mild days spent fishing, camping, and hiking under shady pine trees. Unlike their white counterparts, however, African Americans could not head just anywhere in the mountains. Not far outside of Denver, Lincoln Hills, a vacation community developed for Black people, represented both an escape from the city and an escape from segregation.