The Essential A&E Picks for April 13-19 | Arts & Entertainment | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Essential A&E Picks for April 13-19 

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co., Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Upright Citizens Brigade and more.

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THURSDAY 3/13

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.: Spring Season

When avant-garde choreographer Ann Carlson had the set piece—a giant wall of white foam blocks—created for her latest work, Elizabeth, the Dance, she was not thinking about a policy proposal for our southern border, though anyone who follows the news might assume otherwise. Instead of being a symbol of modern obstruction, Carlson's wall has an ancient quality—and, unlike the prospective border wall, this one breaks apart, shifts and moves along with Ririe-Woodbury dancers who perform with it during this world premiere of Spring Season.

Most of Carlson's work over three decades has been performed for audiences in New York and Los Angeles, where she's made her home. Her previous work, The Symphonic Body, was choreographed at Stanford University and performed by students, staff and faculty. Carlson often works with non-dancers; even with animals. But Elizabeth, the Dance, is a nod to the long history of modern dance and the innovators whose exploration of the form has long inspired Carlson; her own choreography often walks a line between dance and performance art.

For this piece, Carlson needed a company with a strong foundation in many variations and styles of modern dance. Her connection with RWDC goes back to the 1970s when, as a dance student at the University of Utah, she studied under founders Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe. Last year, Carlson called the company's artistic director to ask if they might help stage her next big piece. This is a wall worth building (Katherine Pioli)

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co.: Spring Season @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, April 13-15, 7:30 p.m.; April 15, 2 p.m., $15-$45, artsaltlake.org

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FRIDAY 4/14

People Productions: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Celebrated playwright August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was the first in what later became a series of 10 plays called "The Pittsburgh Cycle," which sought to provide glimpses into the black American experience of the 20th century. This beginning of Wilson's cycle also serves as an ending: People Productions, Utah's premier African American-themed theater company, is making the play its final show after 17 years.

Based on historical character Ma Rainey—also known as "The Mother of the Blues"—the play takes place in a 1927 Chicago recording studio, where she and her band are working to turn her most famous music into something that will endure. Unfortunately—or fortunately for audiences—the recording is delayed, turning what would have been a quick session into a longer series of stories told by each member of the band.

The story they tell is a bittersweet one, with a focus on morality, says the company's Richard G. Scharine, co-founder and artistic director. "You have a situation where people are sort of making deals with the devil in order to get through life and to understand themselves. ... So it's very funny in some ways, because the stories that are told are funny, and the relationships within the play are funny," he says. "But it's also very much a tragedy. When you make a deal with the devil, you don't always get what you think you're going to get." (Casey Koldewyn)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom @ Sugar Space Arts Warehouse, 132 S. 800 West, 801-485-2497, April 13-14 & 20-21, 7:30 p.m.; April 15 & 22, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; April 23, 2 p.m., $10-$15, peopleproductions.org

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FRIDAY 4/14

Upright Citizens Brigade

Even if you haven't heard of Upright Citizens Brigade, you know the comedy legacy generated since its 1990s inception, with founding members including Saturday Night Live alumni Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz and Veep cast member Matt Walsh. To this day, it rivals celebrated improv troupes The Groundlings and The Second City as a place to hone your comedic craft and get noticed by talent scouts. Now, UCB's college-campus tours give the comedians a chance to perform for audiences around the country, while reaching out to the students for the show's material.

"My time at UCB has been and continues to be a wonderful, very productive comedy whirlwind," touring company member Dhruv Uday Singh says in an email interview. "I believe in the old adage that the best way to be an artist is to find the artists' commune and move in. For me, that place has been UCB."

Singh has been with the group for a year, and gets a thrill every time he's asked to tour. Each time the group performs, they bring students up to talk about something from campus or home life, which they then incorporate into improv sketches.

As an audience, this tour is particularly fun for us, as UBC rarely comes through Utah. "We don't have a ton of time outside of the show, but I plan to eat at every restaurant our gracious hosts recommend [and] check out a bar where the cool kids hang," Singh says.

Who knows? You might see the next breakout comedian on stage before they make it big. (Gavin Sheehan)

Upright Citizens Brigade @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 801-581-7100, April 14, 7:30 p.m., $5-$25, tickets.utah.edu

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SATURDAY 4/15

Thanksgiving Point's 13th annual Tulip Festival

Spring has sprung. It's that time of year when the sun shines longer and makes you feel stronger—a delightful season when flowers and trees start to bloom, and baby animals take their first steps. Families and lovers pick flowers for their loved ones. And what better place to do that than Thanksgiving Point's 13th annual Tulip Festival?

Drawing more than 100,000 visitors each year, it's one of the biggest festivals in Utah. For 2017, nearly 300,000 tulips in hundreds of varieties have been divided into 15 themed gardens, according to Josh Berndt, director of communications for Thanksgiving Point. "The bulbs are imported directly from Holland for the most authentic feel possible," he says. "The Tulip Festival is fun and unique, whether you're a flower fan or not."

On the agenda are live music from Tulip Riot, the Tulip Fashion Show and more, plus a festival marketplace with vendors and food trucks from across the state. Wondering whether you should bring your kids? The Tulip Playland invites children to participate in crafts and games with the whole family. If you're in the mood for dancing, hit the floor near the astonishing 65-foot waterfalls on April 28 with the Utah Swing Orchestra.

Tulips, music, dancing and waterfalls—sounds like something from a magical fairy tale. Maybe you could create your own magic in the enchanted, 55-acre gardens. (Sulaiman Alfadhli)

Thanksgiving Point's 13th annual Tulip Festival @ The Ashton Gardens, 3900 Garden Drive, Lehi, 801-768-2300, through May 6, Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (April 29, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.), $14-$20, thanksgivingpoint.org


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