No doubt about it: Utahns like to dance—and to watch others do it, too. Here’s a sampling of what you can look forward to in the coming months.
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best — ” and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
Winnie the Pooh is right. Scientists tell us that anticipation is more pleasurable than pleasure itself because dopamine spikes in your brain after you think you’ll get a reward but before you actually get it. I guess that explains why one of my favorite things about autumn is looking at the upcoming performance schedules and deciding which ones to see. Here are my picks for this year:
In October, Salt Lake Acting Company is doing “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” a musical about America’s seventh president. He’s the guy on the $20 bill with a windswept hairstyle that appears dependent on some kind of hair product. Look him up in any high school history textbook and you’ll see a silver fox in skin tight pants and knee-high leather boots straight from a Regency romance novel or, maybe if he were wearing a little eyeliner, Adam Ant from the flash-in-the-pan ’80s rock band. This alone conveys the enormous potential for an emo rock musical based on his life, and that’s without mentioning that the real Andrew Jackson had a bullet lodged near his heart from dueling over a woman. I’ve been dying to see this play ever since reading reviews in the New York Times and I can’t think of a more perfect musical entertainment for an election year.
U of U
The University of Utah has a fairly new musical theater program (building partly on the strength of its nationally top-ranked dance program). With more emphasis on musical theater at the U, Salt Lake Acting Company sees an opportunity to help students gain professional theater experience and at the same time to be able to do a kind of play that might otherwise be hard for a small theater.
The Musical Theater Program is also presenting “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (November); and “Spring Awakening” (April). Meanwhile, Westminster College has taken over the ancient Greek plays that the U used to do. The upshot is, to the extent that the musical theater program is successful, there is going to be significantly more musical theater in SLC.
Ririe Woodbury Dance Company is currently seeking a new Artistic Director since Charlotte Boye-Christensen will step down in June 2013. They are counting down the year with shows called “Four,” “Three,” “Two” and “One.” In December you can see Boye-Christensen’s choreography in “Three”; “Two” (February) is the annual Alwin Nikolais children’s show that should become a family tradition; and “One” (April ) features the premiere of a new Boye-Christensen work titled “Place.” In case you were wondering, she will remain based in Salt Lake, while accepting commissions elsewhere and pursuing her own projects.
U of U
While we’re on the subject of student performances: Some of the most interesting dance in Salt Lake happens in student performances, and there’s plenty to see:
The University of Utah Department of Modern Dance’s Performing Dance Company has six performances this month and again in February and March; see graduate thesis concerts in November, student concerts in December and March, and senior recitals in April. Check their online calendar and, if you enjoy modern dance, mark your own calendar.
The Utah Ballet Co, from the University of Utah’s Department of Ballet, presents its classical series in November and a contemporary series in March. There’s also a jazz concert in February.
University student productions are economical and often very good. We recommend them enthusiastically.
The October show at Repertory Dance Theater also looks fun. Bill Allred (X96 Radio from Hell) will narrate a piece by Merce Cunningham; Plus there’s more of the Michio Ito work we were introduced to last year, and an intriguing multi-media work by U of U dance professor Jacque Bell in collaboration with a social psychologist/data scientist.
In November, Repertory Dance Theater is performing “Time Capsule: A Century of Dance.” This show is a crash course in the history of modern dance and you should take all your friends who say they don’t understand modern dance. I hate to call it educational because that makes it sound like it’s not fun. In fact, the pioneering works of modern dance were so astonishing and wonderful and there’s a reason they inspired a whole new kind of dancing.
program started up again in September and performances are scheduled for October 15 and November 19. Mudson is a works-in-progress series for emerging and experienced choreographers and you never know quite what you’re going to see, which is part of the fun.
The Hunger Games
In November, fans of “The Hunger Games” will like “The Lottery” at Ballet West which is based on a Shirley Jackson story that surely must have been part of Suzanne Collins’ inspiration. The story is so creepy that after The New Yorker published it in 1948, readers cancelled their subscriptions and sent Jackson hate mail. “The Lottery” has been somewhat de-fanged by inclusion in short story anthologies and college reading lists, but I can still remember being creeped out by it as a kid. The ballet version was commissioned by Ballet West so look forward to a world premiere.
In January SB Dance is doing a reprieve of “The Very BEaSt of SB Dance” which samples and re-works highlights from previous shows. Stephen Brown is also re-working “Of Meat and Marrow – Next Generation” for a big June blow-out premier.