It’s not surprising that dancer Julianne Hough—the blonde firecracker who captivated the nation when she partnered Dancing With The Stars champions speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and race car driver Helio Castroneves—is a Salt Lake City native.
Utah has a rich and varied dance landscape that offers audiences plenty of opportunities to experience innovative communication through movement, graceful bursts of visceral energy and, searing dramatic performances. Whether classical ballet, cutting-edge modern dance, or the latest hybrid of jazz and hip-hop is what you’re craving, Salt Lake City’s world-class dance companies will leave you satisfied.
New Artistic Director Adam Sklute added a few pleasing flourishes to Ballet West’s 2008 season. Utah’s internationally acclaimed professional ballet company’s 2008 lineup features a few tried and true favorites—such as Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella (Feb. 14-16, 20-23) and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs (April 18,19, 23-26)—as well as a newly instituted program of original pieces choreographed by Ballet West’s dancers, for the Ballet West’s dancers entitled Innovations (May 28-31). Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 355-2787, BalletWest.org
Odyssey Dance Theatre
Darryl Yeager’s Halloween-themed Thriller and Christmas-themed It’s A Wonderful Life productions have become seasonal must-sees. Just in time for spring, Odyssey Dance Theatre’s Shut Up & Dance (March 19-29) is “a buffet for dance lovers,” that features several short works that are a captivating fusion of popular entertainment (Beatles, anyone?) with energy and artistic integrity. Various venues, 495-3262, OdysseyDance.com
Repertory Dance Theatre
Since the mid-20th century—1966 to be exact—Repertory Dance Theatre has served as a unique living archive for pivotal modern dance works. From Isadora Duncan to Martha Graham, RDT’s dancers have preserved and enlivened the vibrant tapestry of contemporary dance. The 2008 season includes Charette (March 8) a dance off to determine Utah’ s most skilled choreographer and The Weight of Memory (April 10-13), a lyrical examination of the emotional intersection between past and present. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-2787, Xmission.com/rdt/
|Repertory Dance Theatre Community Dance School
Feel like taking a dance class in 2008? RDT’s Community Dance School philosophy decrees that everyone has the ability to dance, regardless of age, body type or level of experience. Prospective dancers can choose from a variety of classes—some of which feature live drumming—that cater to professionals and novices alike. Some class offerings include West African, Flamenco, Hip Hop, and Modern Dance Technique. New classes—such as 2008’s Jazz Technique class—are added often. The Community School periodically hosts student performances, workshops and an open house that showcases the school’s programs. If you don’t have the money to travel to Rio for Carnival, consider paying $10—or $90 for 10 classes—to dance the evening away Brazilian style at RDT’s fun and inclusive Community Dance School. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-2787, Xmission.com/rdt/
Ririe-Woodbury’s association with legendary performance art wizard Alwin Nikolais recently catapulted the company to international superstardom. If you would like to see what Dance Magazine and The New York Times have been raving about, 2008 offers a few choice opportunities. Nikolais’s playful, visually stunning The Crystal and The Sphere (Feb. 1,2) is a modern dance romp you won’t soon forget. Rewind (April 24-26) features three haunting pieces by Della Davidson, Doug Varone, and Charlotte Boye-Christensen. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 355-2787, RirieWoodbury.com
In 2007, SB Dance technically shed its modern-dance skin and forayed into the realm of musical theater. However, Yoga The Musical’s (yes, Yoga the Musical!) Eastern-inspired jazz numbers and impressive asana sequences are largely executed by seasoned dancers and are too well choreographed to omit from the City Guide’s dance page. The dramatic conclusion of Yoga The Musical, the first portion of which left audiences hanging in 2007, is slated for performance in June 2008. Leona Wagner Black Box Theatre, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-3787, SBDance.com
University of Utah ballet and modern dance departments
The country’s oldest college dance department—established in 1951, with a heritage that dates back to 1892—boasts a rigorous and well-respected curriculum producing world-class dancers. The departments host frequent student showcases, such as modern-dance’s Performing Dance Company Concert (Feb. 7-10, 14-16), Senior Concert (March 6-8, 27-29), the Ballet Ensemble Concert (Feb. 21-23) and alumni concerts that feature choreography by students and renowned guest teachers. U. of U. Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance, 581-7100, Ballet.Utah.Edu; Dance.Utah.Edu
Kingsbury Hall’s august stage has hosted plenty of local and touring dance companies over the years. The year of 2008 is no exception. Irish step-dance sensations Riverdance are slated for several farewell performances (Feb. 5-10), and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will stage two visceral, unforgettable performances (April 1-2). U. of U., 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 581-7100, KingsburyHall.org
Jenny Poplar is both a dancer and a frequent City Weekly contributor.