In the early 1940s, Lillian Covillo (co-founder of Colorado Ballet) had an impulse to try something a little different. A ballet student since the age of nine, Covillo recalled thinking "if I don’t get out of fifth position, I’m going to scream! I need to move!"
This impulse drew Covillo to study modern dance at the University of Denver. There, she met the free-spirited Freidann Parker and a lifelong partnership was born. Parker had studied with Hanya Holm in New York, and, according to Covillo, had modern dance “in her bones." The two decided to put their respective talents together to create, as Covillo put it, a “more eclectic sort of ballet company that would do modern."
Covillo credited Holm with teaching her and Parker a system of choreography that they used throughout the life of Colorado Ballet. Reflecting on Holm’s influence on choreography, Covillo said: “I look at things now…and I think, ‘Hanya would collapse if she saw this!’ It has no form, it has no pattern – all the things that are very essential in choreography….Hanya had an absolute pattern.”