Essentials: Entertainment Picks Jan. 29-Feb. 4 

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Repertory Dance Theatre: You by Graham Brown
Immersive theater experiences, like the recent and very popular Sleep No More run in New York City, are often huge productions staged over many hours in multistoried warehouse spaces. Choreographer Graham Brown wanted to create a similar energy, but the challenge was to do so in a smaller, more intimate black-box theater. With You, presented as part of Repertory Dance Theatre's Link Series, Brown takes on that challenge. With his background in improvisation, it makes sense that immersive theater would pique his interest. Developed over several years, this version is the first fully staged adaptation of many earlier experiments, a collaborative effort that includes original music by Mike Wall, David Schulman and Brown's brother, Joel. You begins immediately as audience members enter the theater and find themselves immersed in a dance-club environment. The story mutates around the audience into more private spaces, as the four characters of the piece (played by Keanu Brady, Mikayla Ellison, Shawnee Jo Haycock and Jersey Reo Riemo) become clear. While furniture is moved in and out of the performance space, the audience is encouraged to interact by exploring the setting as the work unfolds around them. There's something electric that occurs in improv dance, and that same energy is palpable when the variable of audience interaction comes into play. Anything can happen, and that nervous energy feeds both performers and attendees alike. (Jacob Stringer) Repertory Dance Theatre: You by Graham Brown @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Jan. 29, 5:30 & 8 p.m.; Jan. 30-31, 7 & 9:30 p.m., $20.



Mark Knudson & Leslie Thomas: The Modern Western Landscape
There are many ways to view the wondrous natural landscape of Utah, and artists Mark Knudson and Leslie Thomas—husband & wife for more than 10 years—both have unique perspectives. Their painting style borders on photorealism, and their choices in subject and nuances of approach catapult viewers beyond the literal into a sublime artistic experience. Thomas has the more aggressive palette of the two. One can see in an astonishing painting such as "Gray Place II" (pictured) how sharply she renders her line and how ruthlessly she treats light and shadow. In this work, a basalt-like white outcrop is rendered with minute detail in the ridges, lending an unearthly, otherworldly quality to the painting. Knudson does the opposite, presenting viewers with an entirely earthbound experience in the subjects he chooses, though they can be transportive, even ethereal. "Nefertiti" gives an impression of the legendary Egyptian queen carved naturally in stone, set high in a rocky embankment above a ridge like a royal court of red rocks. "Lion in Winter #2" is a long, horizontal plateau, with stripes of snow along the narrow formation, which is set against a telephone wire reaching into the vast distance. "Turn Left at Pace Hill" is another refined painting of rock and sky, with just a touch of something man-made in a yellow road sign that peeks out from the base of the canvas. The atmosphere takes viewers beyond a specific place to somewhere fascinating and imaginative. (Ehren Clark) Mark Knudson and Leslie Thomas: The Modern Western Landscape @ Phillips Gallery, 444 E. 200 South, 801-364-8284, through Feb. 13, free.


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Local technology and business website Beehive Startups is launching a daunting venture of its own: a grass-roots startup festival. For three days, StartSLC will take over The Gateway and various venues around Salt Lake City to give business owners and potential owners the opportunity to learn how to launch and improve their own businesses. The festival has been split into two areas: the Main Stage and Festival Events. The Main Stage will host lectures and workshops, such as Surviving Sharktank (where your ideas are put under a microscope and given criticism) and Startup Legal (where you'll learn the ins & outs to assure everything you're doing is by the book). The events will take you around The Gateway and downtown Salt Lake City for an array of experiences like the Co-working Crawl to explore workspaces, or Cyber Security Hackers, where your laptop and mobile devices will face different hacking methods to test their security. Throughout the three-day event, several guest speakers from local businesses will give lectures and keynote speeches, hoping to inspire people to further their own business efforts. Notable names include Josh Little (Qzzr), Matt Berry (Orca Health), Sunny Washington (Ardusat), Kreg Peeler (SpinGo), Karl Sun (Lucid), Hana Saleh (27 Spirits), Spencer Hall (KSL News), Angela Brown (SLUG Magazine), Travis Wilson (Jones Waldo) and Clark Stacey (Wild Works). (Gavin Sheehan) StartSLC @ The Gateway, 18 N. Rio Grande St., Jan. 29-31, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., free, RSVP required.



Disney's Beauty and the Beast
The plot of this stage musical is nothing new, especially for the generation that will likely take their children to see it. Following the script of the 1991 Disney movie, the musical tells of kind-hearted country girl Belle, who is tasked with caring for a selfish prince trapped by magic in the body of a beast. To break the spell, Belle must teach the prince to love others. What makes this musical special are the award-winning creative elements that have brought broad acclaim to this stage adaptation, which has been performed for more than 35 million people in 13 countries. The Broadway musical draws on Disney's original Academy Award-winning score and songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, with a few new songs added to the mix. Brightening the stage is Ann Hould-Ward's Tony Award-winning costume design, and making it all come alive is L.A. Drama-Logue Award-winning choreography by Matt West. (Katherine Pioli) Disney's Beauty and the Beast @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 801-581-7100, Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 31, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 1, 1 & 6:30 p.m., $35-$75.


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Ririe-Woodbury Dance: Flabbergast
At 2014's performance of Ririe-Woodbury's all-ages show Flabbergast, the audience sat with rapt attention. There was none of the usual squirming: No one needed to visit the bathroom, and all eyes were fixed solidly on the stage. For a theater auditorium full of elementary-school students at a dance concert, such a level of concentration was impressive. This year, Ririe-Woodbury is bringing back this engrossing production. Quirky and playful, the choreography by Tandy Beal will be enjoyed by all, but most especially by children. To create this full-length dance performance, Beal—known internationally as a performer, choreographer, writer, teacher, producer and circus director—drew on her past work with the Moscow Circus and the Pickle Family Circus. The pieces are held together by a loose story line, which begins with a grandmother who reaches out across time and space to her grandchildren. Her words launch the children into a world of dance and discovery where they learn of life's joy, beauty and, sometimes, sorrow. Of the individual pieces that make up the performance, some are funny, like cast members dressed as giant babies playing circus tricks on, over and around a sturdy wooden table. Some create a sense of wonder: Dancer Yebel Gallegos' duet with a giant white balloon plays out with silky slow-motion movement. Some confront tough subjects for kids, as when the company portrays the violence and fear created by bullying. And some are just plain fun to watch, such as when the dancers manipulate costumes of lightweight, flowing fabric to create beautiful shapes and patterns. (Katherine Pioli) Ririe-Woodbury Dance: Flabbergast @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-355-2787, Jan. 30, 7 p.m.; Jan. 31, 2 p.m. & 7 p.m., $20-$35.

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