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Gavin's Underground

The Rose Exposed

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2012-08-31 -
This Saturday, the Rose Wagner Theatre will be the hotspot location for one of the biggest combined performing-arts showcases this year. The Rose Exposed will be a 13-hour event featuring workshops and performances from the six residential performance companies housed in the downtown theater. The day's festivities will give fans an opportunity to check out classic original works and samples from upcoming pieces due to hit the '12-'13 season, including a variety show in the evening for a mere $10. Today, I chat with the six main organizers from each company who will be in charge of the evening to discuss the show and what they hope to bring to the public with it, plus a glimpse into the upcoming season this fall. (All photos courtesy of Jerry Rapier.)

Kary Billings, Jerry Rapier, Fran Pruyn, Linda Smith, Charlotte Boye-Christensen & Stephen Brown
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Gavin: Hey, everybod. First thing, tell us a little about yourselves and your companies.

Kary: I am Kary Billings, chairman of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit organization that promotes excellence in piano performance. Gina Bachauer has a 36-year track record of providing opportunities for the world’s most outstanding pianists to perform for international prestige, prize money and artistic recognition.

Jerry: I'm Jerry Rapier, producing director of Plan-B Theatre Company since 2000. We've developed and produced unique and socially conscious theater since 1991.

Fran: I think that our mission statement says it all: to produce plays which reflect issues, concerns and shared experiences in the lives of women. Which is not to say that we haven’t fudged on that when we believed that what the show was saying was from a truly universal point of view, or the theatrical experience was important to the company and the community. Still, it really is our litmus test and, as artistic director, I tend to be a bit of a tyrant about it, because I do think telling women’s stories and giving women voice is largely why we are in business.

Linda: Repertory Dance Theatre, founded in 1966 in Salt Lake City, is a professional modern-dance repertory company dedicated to the creation, performance, perpetuation and appreciation of dance. Known worldwide for its collection of dance treasures, RDT is both a museum and contemporary gallery representing the scope and diversity of modern dance, past and present. In addition to public performances, RDT produces a variety of community-based programs including annual summer workshops, year-round dance classes, and arts-in-education activities that serve to train and ignite the creative voice in people of all ages.

Charlotte: Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company was founded in 1964 by Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe. Since then, Ririe-Woodbury has operated with a strong mission furthering contemporary dance as an accessible and valued art form through performance and dance education that raise the standards, deepen the understanding and promote personal connections with dance. We do that through performing innovative original works and commissioning choreographers of exceptional talent, providing dance education for all levels and outcomes, touring regionally, nationally, and internationally, training artists as performers, educators, and choreographers, and by developing dance audiences.

Stephen: SB Dance mixes dance, theater, and circus into compact, 60-minute shows. We're known for inventive theater devices, humor, and, ahem, adventurous content. SB Dance is also a single-artist creation shop -- many designers and performers are involved, but the company focuses on the vision of a single madman. That's the norm in most places -- here, it's the exception.
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Gavin: Being as all of you are involved with different companies at The Rose, what were the highlights of your '11-'12 season?

Kary: In our 36th anniversary of sponsoring international competitions, we planned the daunting challenge of holding two competitions back-to-back. With 65 competitors selected from a pool of 300 applicants heard in live auditions in 10 world-wide cities, these two competitions delivered some of the world's most talented young pianists, ages 11-18, to Salt Lake City. Nine distinguished international musicians served as the jury who selected the 12 finalists. Our first-prize winners, Leonardo Colafelice (16, from Italy) and Ryota Yamazaki (13, from Japan) demonstrated amazing ability and maturity, on par with musicians many years older. They promise to be outstanding representatives for Bachauer.

Jerry: The highlight of our season was our world-premiere production of Debora Threedy's muscular The Third Crossing, which has just been nominated for three City Weekly Arty Awards in Best Local Production, Best Original Play and Best Individual Performance -- Kalyn West as Sally Hemings. We were all sorts of tingly to bring Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays in partnership with Equality Utah, and 8 in partnership with Broadway Impact and the American Foundation for Equal Rights to Utah as part of our Script-In-Hand Series and re-mount Hedwig and The Angry Inch in partnership with Park City's Egyptian Theatre. And we were privileged to stage the world premieres of Aden Ross' Shakespearean romp Lady MacBeth and Jenifer Nii's exquisite adaptation of my favorite book, The Scarlet Letter.

Fran: We had three terrific shows: Last Lists Of My Mad Mother by the incomparable Julie Jensen, Seven by seven female playwrights about seven women from different countries who overcame ridiculous odds to succeed as leaders, organizers and activists and In The Next Room (Or, The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl. We inaugurated our reading series and collaborated with Arts Access on a tour of middle schools in Washington County of The Mysterious Happy Life Of A Brown Bag. This little 20-minute piece about bullying was PYG's entry in -- and the winner of -- Wasatch Theatre’s "Page-To-Stage Festival."

Linda: RDT presented the revolutionary, world-renowned choreography of Merce Cunningham and Yvonne Rainer, America’s groundbreaking leaders of the avant-garde and Postmodern dance movement. And Region 8 of the Environmental Protection Agency awarded an Environmental Justice Small Grant to Repertory Dance Theatre in the amount of $25,000. This grant enabled RDT to serve elementary school students and their teachers in Salt Lake City’s west side and central cities with educational services that use movement as a tool to demonstrate and empower youth to make a life-long commitment to fitness and health. Participating schools learned about existing benchmarks and simple ways to improve personal health habits. RDT provided lecture demonstrations, movement classes, parent/child and teacher workshops, lesson plans, study guides and performance opportunities that focus on the impacts of air pollution and how their environment and actions affect their health. Our Snapshots concert in Nov. 2011 invited 3,000 elementary students to the Rose, free of charge, to learn about the importance of a healthy environment.

Charlotte: We had a dynamic season that offered our audiences six premieres. We brought in two guest choreographers: NYC-based artist Brook Notary, who re-created her haunting yet poetic piece Grid on the company, and California-based choreographer Keith Johnson, who created a new work on the company titled Secret Dark World, a work that was highly physical and playful with a great emphasis on vulnerability. We also presented the unique collaborative project: But Seriously, that has just been nominated for an Arty for best choreography for 2011. Our younger audiences were given the opportunity to witness the magical world of Modern dance pioneer Alwin Nikolais in our new children's show Kaleidoscope.

Stephen: Our new creation was the morbidly funny Of Meat & Marrow. It was a terrific success -- so much so that we're working on developing it into a whole nose-to-tail experience.
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Gavin: Where did the idea come from to stage The Rose Exposed?

Linda: In the spring of 2010, RDT did a marathon of dance performance at the Rose Wagner, free of charge, and invited the general public to come and get acquainted or renew friendships. It was a great success, and RDT thought it would be a great idea for all six resident companies to brand The Rose and also the Broadway Mile with a marathon celebration. We all agreed that The Rose needed to invite one and all to get acquainted with the fantastic activities that are presented throughout the year, and The Rose Exposed was born. The show offers audiences the opportunity to see a sampling of the kind of outstanding activities, concerts and classes that are offered year-round at The Rose. More than 20 years ago, a R/UDAT study identified need for a medium-sized theater space and a defined cultural and entertainment district. Today, we have The Rose, a wonderful theater on Broadway, and now we need to make the public more aware of the variety of arts events that are presented there daily. While many members of the general public are patrons of The Rose, there are countless numbers of potential audience members who have yet to be introduced to the variety of artistic programs that are offered in this important arts center.

Gavin: With this being the first time so many companies at The Rose have worked together, how did you decide who would be in charge of putting together what?

Stephen: When someone left the room to pee or take an important phone call -- or was late to a meeting -- everyone else put them in charge of something. I'm pretty sure this is the method they use to issue rulings at the Supreme Court.
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Gavin: How has it been for all of you coming together as a group to coordinate this event?

Kary: Fantastic! We are all well aware of each other’s activities and events at The Rose, but we have never had the opportunity to collaborate like this. With three dance companies of differing styles, two theater companies with specific focuses, and with the Bachauer being a solely music organization, we all bring something unique to the project. A highlight for me is working with the others to bring piano music into the event, showcasing the versatility of the piano. In Peter And The Wolf with Plan-B, it really is integral in telling the story. In Swimming with SB Dance with Stephen Brown dancing to Mozart, it functions as both a solo and accompaniment instrument. Gottschalk’s Union, a solo piano piece, truly showcases the rich and varied sounds of a grand piano.

Jerry: We have had a fantastic time getting to know each other in a different way, which has helped us each gain a greater appreciation for each other's work.

Gavin: What made you decide to have all the classes and activities earlier in the day be free rather than charge admission?

Charlotte: By offering all of these classes as well as experiences for free, we are hoping to entice people who might not otherwise choose the Rose Wagner as a destination to come. This will give people an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the companies as well as with the venue in a very informal way.
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Gavin: While we're on the topic, what are the classes and activities that people will be able to partake in?

Kary: Mozart's "Piano Sonata No. 16 (First Movement)" from Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation meets Swimming by SB Dance. Musician Arthur Schnabel described Mozart's piano sonatas as "too easy for children but too difficult for pianists". Possibly the most famous of the set of sonatas, this piece demands careful treatment to remain fluent and light. Constrained to "swimming motions" of the arms and torso, the dance is also deceivingly simple, but achieving the full range of articulation is a butt-kicker, both mentally and physically. As well as Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf, an interactive journey through the classic story of the hungry wolf, the ill-fated duck, the fortunate cat, the fearless little bird and the brave and cunning Peter for kids of all ages.

Jerry: Plan-B will have a reading of #MormonInChief by Matthew Greene. A Mormon presidential candidate shares his less-than-PC views in a church meeting. An avid supporter shares them on Twitter and finds himself the center of a national media frenzy. The play was originally produced by Michael Holt at the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2012. Matthew Greene’s Adam & Steve And The Empty Sea will receive its world premiere as part of Plan-B’s '12-'13 season.

Fran: A full performance of The Mysterious Happy Life Of A Brown Bag by Greg Near, a modern fable that tells the story of an unusual little boy who wants nothing more than to experience everything around him, including going to first grade and interacting with other children, in spite of his mother's fears and his teacher's misgivings. As well as a reading of The Photographer by LL West, a story of art, racial injustice, manipulation and coercion in Alabama in 1922.
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Linda: We'll have free classes and rehearsals. Fun Movement Exploration Classes for adults: Ring Around The Rose, an RDT performance demystifying dance for kids of all ages; African Class, a fast-moving West African movement to live drumming; an open rehearsal of Merce Cunningham’s How To Pass, Kick, Fall and Run; and a Movement Exploration Class for kids -- they’ll run, jump, skip, hop and freeze -- and this month's installment of Ring Around The Rose for kids.

Charlotte: Lectures, demonstrations, parent/child workshop, and movement workshops. First, two lecture/demonstrations investigating the artistic vehicle of dance, the body, combined with dance-movement, exploring the elements of space, shape, time, and energy. Second, a parent/child workshop, bringing together families for a one-hour class of movement and problem-solving that is both empowering and fun. It is recommended for families with kids 4 and above, but young children are welcome. Finally, a movement experience workshop provides dance exploration for adults with some movement experience and is recommended for anyone above the age of 18.

Stephen: We'll have sport yoga Ccass. Add an element of agility to yoga -- it's like Tai Chi meets yoga and incorporates moves like back shoulder rolls and handstand skipping. Also, Spy Hop Productions will feature short films made by students ages 7 -19:Animation Showcase, a variety of stop motion, claymation and mixed media animation; Even Handed, the story of a straight teenage girl who tries to answer the question posed by another student about her Human Rights Campaign sticker – “If you’re not gay, why should you care?”; My Muslim Eyes, an exploration of how growing up Muslim in a post 9/11 America has affected young Muslims' perspectives on freedom; Sunday, a young refugee student from Africa who dreams of a music career; Trashed, a new breed of environmentalists known as "freegans" explain their approach to personal and spiritual well-being, all while one group explores the contents of local dumpsters and retrieves a bountiful supply of food, clothing, and sporting goods; and River's End, where troubles at home convince a 12-year-old boy to run away with his imaginary friend on a quest for the ocean.
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Gavin: Later in the evening, you'll be putting together The Variety Show from all six companies. What can people expect to see from that show?

Jerry: In 60 minutes, we'll give you all these performances for only $10!

Kary: An excerpt from Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s Union, Or Paraphrase On The National Airs. A grand piano piece by an American composer incorporating three very American themes: The Star-Spangled Banner, Columbia, and Yankee Doodle, with virtuosic and military flourishes.

Jerry: An excerpt from ERIC(A) by Matthew Ivan Bennett. Eric used to Erica, and this is the story of how he fell for a woman for the first time. ERIC(A) receives its world premiere as part of Plan-B’s '12-'13 season.

Fran: A selection from Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill by Lanie Robertson -- the great jazz vocalist Billie Holiday in the final days of her career, when she played Emerson's Bar and Grill.

Linda: RDT dancers have used compositional devices employed by Merce Cunningham and many of his followers to develop a performance event called Gamut. A gamut is a collection of movement material that is used to make a piece. Each RDT dancer had the opportunity to develop a movement section. Some are designed to be performed in a very exact manner and some give the performers choices or tasks to perform on stage. The order of the sections was determined by chance, and the music was likewise assembled. The process is always game-like and is as fun for the dancers to perform as it is for the audience to watch.

Charlotte: Turf choreographed by artistic director Charlotte Boye-Christensen. Turf is inspired by the idea of territorialism and how men and women approach the idea of space differently. Set to music by White Stripes and The Gotan Project.

Stephen: An excerpt from Of Meat & Marrow from our latest show -- an evening about corpses.
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Gavin: Considering the different formats being put together, how will you be presenting The Variety Show so it flows for the audience?

Fran: The Variety Show is 60 minutes or so long, and we have mixed up the disciplines so the audience will have a great sampling of the offerings this upcoming season at the Rose: a monologue, some dancing, a tune, some dancing, a piano piece, some dancing.

Gavin: What's the main goal of this event ,and what do you hope people will take from it? Are you planning to do more of these in the future, or is this a one-time deal?

Stephen: The Rose hosts an amazing spectrum of activities. There are performances in every bandwidth -- from kids shows to definitely-not-kids shows -- and in every discipline, plus classes, workshops and a bunch of special events. You can see both start-ups and professionals of national significance. It's all super-affordable, and more people ought to know about it. The Rose Exposed represents a desire of the six resident companies of The Rose to break down the barriers between our audiences. We are all distinct and that's the strength of our collective offerings: social issues, fantastic athleticism, historical journeys, worldwide competitions, traditional favorites or one-of-a-kind original art. We're putting our money where our mouth is, too: On top of all the free stuff, The Variety Show is only $10, and we're offering a "6 Pack" deal, where patrons can buy a ticket to six shows during the '12-'13 season -- one from each of the 6 resident companies -- for only $66. The Rose Exposed is going to be an annual event, a highlight of the cultural calendar.
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Gavin: What can we expect from all of you coming up in the 2012/13 season?

Kary: Gina Bachauer will be featuring Gold Medalists from our competitions held over the last 36 years, and in June of 2013, we will hold a four-day International Piano Festival featuring the winners of the 2012 International Piano competitions.

Jerry: Plan-B will be producing five world premieres, including the return of our Radio Hour series with Sherlock Holmes and The Blue Carbuncle, adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by our resident playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett and featuring Bill Allred of X96's Radio From Hell as Watson and Doug Fabrizio of KUER's RadioWest as Holmes. Details on our website.

Fran: Pygmalion will be reviving Lanie Robertson's Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill and the Utah premiere of Julie Jensen's Cheat; we're also staging a Matthew Ivan Bennett play, A Night With The Family.

Linda: RDT salutes the revolutionary vision of Michio Ito (1896-1961) and Merce Cunningham (1919-2009), choreographers whose innovative work re-defined dance to inspire generations of artists and audiences. Plus, Eight Seconds Of Fame, a new piece by RDT dancers who will create choreography by incorporating movement phrases contributed by the community.

Charlotte: We are presenting several exciting new and recreated works this season: award-winning performance artist Ann Carlson's 50 Years, a new commission by Kassel Ballet's artistic director Johannes Wieland and a new collaboration between myself, architect Nathan Webster and writer David Kranes.

Stephen: SB Dance has a new program called Cultural Confidential. These are curiosity-building conversations between audience and panel about society and art. It starts on Sept. 5 with a discussion about controlling creativity -- what's the difference between an artist being paid fairly and corporate lockdown forever.
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Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you like to promote or plug?

Kary: Everyone should check out The Rose! The Rose Exposed will be an exciting opportunity for neighbors and friends in Utah to be exposed to what an incredible venue the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center is, with an amazing array of arts events happening year-long. The six resident companies bring a fresh approach to the arts with their events, with dance, drama, and music being offered in fresh formats happening nowhere else in Utah.

Stephen: SB Dance has received a major grant to present new educational programs that focus on thinking habits and art. It's something the company has wanted to dive into for a long time. We'll be offering a professional-development workshop for teachers in Dec. 2012.


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