RDT and Ririe-Woodbury Dance the Environment

In April, Utah’s two flagship modern dance companies respond to the environment.

With To See Beyond Our Time, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company joins the swelling number of artistic voices calling for dramatic change to save Great Salt Lake. Co-created by Ririe-Woodbury artistic director Daniel Charon and theatre director Alexandra Harbold, the piece aims to call attention to declining water levels and the catastrophic impact on the ecosystem and air quality. “Dance can speak in its unique way to highlight the immediacy of this moment,” Charon says.

The production is informed by factual information, social commentary, and actionable steps to advocate for environmental concerns. “It’s an intensely collaborative piece,” Harbold said in an interview with PBS Utah’s Mary Dickson. Collaborators include local environmental advocates and experts such as Darren Parry, director of the Great Salt Lake Institute, and McKenzie Romero from the Deseret News. In addition to the talents of the company’s dancers, Charon and Harbold’s vision will be brought to life with the help of lighting designer Jessica Greenberg, costume designer and former company dancer Melissa Younker, and scenic floral designer Kat Nix, who are all engaged with the environmental themes of the work. “It’s about, How do we pay attention and how do we work together to make a difference,” Harbold said.

For more than 50 years, Repertory Dance Theatre has kept the repertory of modern dance alive in Salt Lake city and for their April performance they reprise three works inspired by the landscape. Jose Limon’s “The Winged,” from 1966, is an abstract dance that explores the idea of flight and freedom. The dancers, dressed in simple costumes, move across the stage with sweeping, soaring movements, evoking the feeling of flight. The choreography is characterized by its fluidity and grace, as well as by its bold use of space and dynamic shifts in movement quality. Donald McKayle’s “I’ve Known Rivers” (2005) is a powerful and emotional interpretation of the Langston Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” featuring a series of tableaux and dance sequences that explore themes of identity, struggle, and resilience. RDT’s evening will conclude with Zvi Gotheiner’s “Dancing the Bears Ears,” a work created in collaboration with RDT (see our article here). RDT and Gotheiner’s companies explored the Bears Ears with Native American guides, creating improvisations inspired by the land. The threatened reduction of the Bears Ears monument brought a heightened sense of urgency to the work, which premiered in 2017.

Members of Repertory Dance Company improvise in Bears Ears National Monument in 2017

To See Beyond Our Time, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Salt Lake City, Apr. 13-15. Meet the Choreographer event, April 6 at 12:30 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Flight, Repertory Dance Theatre, Salt Lake City, Apr. 20-22

Categories: Dance

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