Essentials: Entertainment Picks Dec. 5-11 | Entertainment Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly

Essentials: Entertainment Picks Dec. 5-11 

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Leo Platero
The Navajo tradition of art and culture is one rich in visual form and symbolic meaning. Their traditional arts—blanket-weaving, sand-painting, ceremonial basket-weaving, silver and turquoise crafting and ceramics—have a unique language of color, line, pattern, combinations of elements and iconography, making this a fine-art form that’s equally practical and spiritual. The beauty and the repetition of forms symbolize the cyclical or regenerative in nature and life. Young Navajo Leo Platero was a sheepherder, his father a silversmith and his mother a weaver of rugs. In an upbringing surrounded by a vibrant arts culture, Platero could not help but absorb a wealth of beauty.While earning his Bachelor of Arts at BYU, Platero connected with Modernism, and his own work ultimately became semi-abstract and matured into a distinctive style. “Desert Solitude” is one of the more gripping canvases, catching the eye and not letting go. One can see the bold geometric styles of rugs, baskets and sand-painting in the structures and colors, yet Platero departs from the stringent ways of the Navajo. What gives this painting charm and beauty is a seemingly random, collage-layered effect, as if Platero has taken parts and pieces of Navajo art, cut them apart and reassembled them in ways that make use of the same form and possibly the same spirituality. “Going to the Squaw Dance” overtly refers to his culture, with four towering vertical drops of mesas, one overlapping the other like cut-outs, emphasizing a traditional color scheme, while two Navajo on horses decide if they are going to the squaw dance. (Ehren Clark)
Leo Platero @ Salt Lake Public Library Sprague Branch, 2131 S. 1100 East, 801-594- 8640, through Dec. 20, free.

Good Company Theatre: Fences
Good Company Theatre’s holiday-season production—August Wilson’s Fences—may not be about Christmas, but its powerful themes speak to the good-will psyche nonetheless. Centered around blacks in America in the 1950s, Fences enters the conflicted consciousness of a Negro League baseball player, Troy Maxson, whose career was benched due to prejudice. The storyline takes a turn when Troy discovers his son is a gifted football player, forcing him to confront his own unresolved feelings. Fences premiered on Broadway in 1987, and is Part 6 of 10 in The Pittsburgh Cycle, Wilson’s series of plays illustrating African American life through the 20th century. Wilson weaves social subtleties into the development of his characters and settings, like Troy’s last name, a play on the Mason-Dixon Line. He also sets Fences purposefully during the baseball season when Hank Aaron led the Milwaukee Braves to the World Series. (Aimee Cook O’Brien)
Fences @ Good Company Theatre, 260 25th St., Ogden, 801-564-0783, Dec. 5-15, Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 4 p.m., $15 online, $17 at the door.

University of Utah Dance Thesis Performance
While any of the University of Utah dance department’s performances are worth putting on the calendar, if you have to choose one, make it this Masters of Fine Arts thesis performance. Before making it to the U’s program, these students had already demonstrated their commitment to the art of dance. Take, for example, Alysia Ramos, who came from New York City, where she worked as a choreographer and teacher for more than a decade. Or Alyssa Tolman, who danced in Idaho for five years and toured the world before joining the U’s highly selective program. Along with fellow impressive graduating students Krista Derington, Xiao Feng, Scotty Hardwig and Laquimah VanDunk, these dancers will present an evening of original choreography, the thesis wrapping up three years of study and exploration. Through their movement, the dancers’ works will contemplate modern technology and communications, and explore timeless question of identity. (Katherine Pioli)
Graduate Thesis Dance Performance @ Marriott Center for Dance, University of Utah, 330 S. 1500 East, 801-581-8231, Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m. & Dec. 6-7, 7:30 p.m., $12 general admission, $8 U of U students, faculty and staff.


Pioneer Theatre Company: Elf: The Musical
It doesn’t take long these days for a holidaythemed film to become part of the standard basic-cable repertoire, and it’s not surprising that the 2003 comedy Elf continues to be popular. But when a film seems so clearly built around its star—in this case Will Ferrell—it’s hard to imagine the story working without him. How do you make a stage musical version of Elf successful? And how do you do it without Ferrell? Pioneer Theatre Company aims to show how with its production of Elf: The Musical. Featuring original songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin—who similarly turned a star-vehicle comedy movie into a popular stage musical with The Wedding Singer. The play adapts the story of Buddy, the human child who winds up adopted by the elves at Santa’s North Pole workshop. But once he grows up, he’s determined to find his biological father—even if Dad isn’t quite ready to deal with an exuberant man-child immersed in the power of Christmas. (Scott Renshaw)
Elf: The Musical @ Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, Dec. 6-24, $29.50-$59.

Utopia Early Music: Star in the East
Every year, the holidays return with their accompanying pandemonium, and every year, the search continues for respite from all the seasonal chaos. Utopia Early Music’s holiday concert, Star in the East: An Early Music Christmas, hopes to provide just such soothing relief. With the purpose of performing period music true to its original form, including historic instruments and traditional phrasing, UEM will set the mood and calm the heart with holiday tunes spanning thousands of years, multiple cultures and musical styles—dark medieval chants, bright English carols, solemn American hymns, flowery French noëls, sweet Italian lullabies and complex German oratorio. These aren’t your modern variety of Christmas carols, although some might be recognizable, like Handel’s For Unto Us a Child Is Born delivered in baroque style. This performance is more likely to include festive psalms and the concert’s namesake, an epiphany song from the Sacred Harp tradition. (Jacob Stringer)
Utopia Early Music: Heaven to Earth @ Cathedral Church of St. Mark, 231 E. 100 South, Dec. 6, 8 p.m.; Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m.; Dec. 8, 5 p.m., pay as able, $15 suggested donation.

Spy Hop: Fifteen @ UMOCA
Contemporary teenagers are a more diverse generation than ever before, yet they still have the ability to unite when it comes to the issues that matter to them. In Salt Lake City, this demographic is supported by Spy Hop, a teen media design-oriented organization. They “exist because we believe the next generation has a lot to say,” says Spy Hop’s mission statement. The mission is to “mentor young people in the digital-media arts to help them find their voice.” Located in Salt Lake City’s artistic west side, they have had a strong presence in the Salt Lake City Arts Festival, the Reel Stories film festival, contributions to Craft Lake City and participation in Salt Lake Design Week. One step for Spy Hop is Fifteen, a film set to debut at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art on Dec. 6 to “recognize that being a teenager today must be more challenging, confusing, overwhelming and exciting than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago.” We must also recognize and be grateful that Spy Hop exists today. (Ehren Clark)
Spy Hop: Fifteen @ UMOCA, 20 S. West Temple, 801-328-4201, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m., free.,

Ballet West: The Nutcracker
It’s that time of year again, when a young girl named Clara is spurred to dreams of snow castles, sugar plum fairies and a handsome prince, all by the gift of a nutcracker given to her by her mysterious uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer. Yes, it’s the season when Ballet West gets en pointe for the tradition that is Tchaikovsky’s classic workThe Nutcracker. Since William Christensen first staged the work nearly 60 years ago, Ballet West’s annual production is a massive undertaking, with 25 matinee and evening performances to mostly sold-out crowds. And those spectators support both the spectacle of the Nutcracker production and the other innovative programming Ballet West provides throughout the year. To get the perfect look, each tutu consumes over 15 meters of net, uses more than 200 jewels and costs nearly $2,500. Keeping the tradition of The Nutcracker alive is no simple—or inexpensive—task. But that’s just it: The magic of The Nutcracker is imbedded in the tradition itself. It will be renewed in the newly remodeled Capitol Theatre, which, with this production, will celebrate its 100th birthday and mark its grand re-opening after a five-month closure. Now that The Nutcracker has been performed in Salt Lake City for so long, it’s an institution that spans generations—grandparents sharing with grandchildren the magical story of Clara and her toy nutcracker. (Jacob Stringer)
Ballet West: The Nutcracker @ Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, 801-355-2787, Dec. 6-28, 2 p.m., 7 p.m.; Christmas Eve matinee 12 p.m., $29-$79.


SB Dance: WTF! 
Most arts companies these days find it essential to raise money in all sorts of ways. Salt Lake City’s SB Dance company isn’t any different—except that, instead of a formal fundraising dinner, they prefer a fund-raging party called WTF!: Wine Theater Food. According to founder and director Stephen Brown, beyond the financial benefits, it’s important for a company like SB Dance to get the public involved with raising funds for the arts. “Our fans manifest their exuberance by giving money, volunteer time and word-of-mouth energy,” Brown says. “That gets the attention of the Powers That Be, because the PTBs know that if this town is going to be taken seriously—to be an incubator of new businesses and a regional center for education and culture—then it’s absolutely essential to nourish the alt-indie weirdos. … So when folks show up and get involved, they’re sending an influential message that’s heard in the right places.” The money raised at the onstage party—filled with dance music, curated wines and plenty of local eats to put a smile on the faces of discerning foodies—is an important part of helping the motley crew of SB Dancers create their celebrated fringe work. Just think: Next year, having contributed to the cause, you might be able to point to the stage and say, “My hard-earned dollars went to fixing that giant jack, oiling those casters on the cadaver tables or making sure the flight harnesses are up to snuff so somebody doesn’t get flung into the rafters.” (Jacob Stringer)
SB Dance: WTF! @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Dec. 7, 7:30-11 p.m., $60.

MLS Cup: Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC
Loyal fans of Real Salt Lake have cheered their way through a season that some thought was simply a “rebuilding year,” all the way to another visit to the MLS Cup championship game and a possible second title in five years. But the lads in claret & cobalt won’t be hosting the big game this year, meaning the faithful who can’t make it out to Kansas City are going to need another option for gathering and chanting “Believe.” While no “official” watch party had been announced by the team’s media-relations department at press time—and, sadly, there will be no congregating at Rio Tinto Stadium itself to watch—several sports bars and pubs have confirmed that they’ll be showing the broadcast of the game. Brewvies (677 S. 200 West, 801-355-5500) will be showing it on the big screen; other downtown-area venues include Bourbon House (19 E. 200 South, 801-746-1005), The Green Pig (31 E. 400 South, 801-532-7441), Dick N’ Dixie’s (479 E. 300 South, 801-521-3556) and Piper Down (1492 S. State, 801-468-1492). In Murray, gather at 5 Monkeys (7 E. 4800 South, 801-266-1885). And in Park City, the party is at Miner’s Grill (1300 Snow Creek Drive, 435-649-6449). Plenty of other sports bars are likely to be firing up the game so that they can get in on the celebratory action when RSL tallies its inevitable triumph. You’ll want to be sharing the experience with the rest of the die-hards, chanting into the wee hours. (Scott Renshaw)
MLS Cup: Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC @ Sporting Park, Kansas City, Dec. 7, 2 p.m. TV: ESPN.

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