2014: a year in dance. We danced what we valued, what we loved, and what we found beautiful.
—by Amy Brunvand
Last February Tanner Dance and the Children’s Dance Theatre moved out of that shabby old building that smelled like old gym socks into a new home in the $37.5 million Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex at the University of Utah. The new facility is envisioned as “the premier academic hub of evidence-based K-12 arts integration research, training, practice and advocacy.” Sorenson, who died in 2013, was a tireless advocate for arts in the schools and was able to persuade even the tight-fisted Utah Legislature to fund arts education.
In June two dancers—Adam Sklute, artistic director of Ballet West and Linda C. Smith, Executive/ Artistic Director (and founder) of the Repertory Dance Theatre—were included in the 2014 “Enlightened 50,” a list compiled by the Community Foundation of Utah to recognize individuals making a measurable—but often unsung—difference in the state.
In March Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company celebrated their 50th Anniversary. The company was founded in 1964 by Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury, both native Utahns and dance professors at the University of Utah. Back in the 1950s both women also had young children and in order to create a work-life balance they asked the president of the University of Utah if they could job-share. Fortunately, he said “yes.” Since 1999, employment rates for women in the U.S. have fallen, largely due to lack of workplace flexibility that would support both work and family. Where’s the progress?
The community also celebrated the grand opening of Sugar Space Arts Warehouse at 130 So. 8th West. The new practice/performance space offers community events and classes and is also the new home of the Westminster College Dance program.
In October the Salt Lake Tribune reported that “elected officials attempted to dance” at a rally for LBGT equality after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the plaintiffs in Kitchen vs. Herbert, re-opening the door to same-sex marriage in Utah. The dancing politicians included Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and State Senator Jim Dabakis (who later displayed more ability doing the Time Warp for his role as The Narrator in the Pioneer Memorial Theater production of The Rocky Horror Show).
In November Utah Republicans improved their chances of winning the U.S. Congressional edition of “Dancing with the Stars” with the election of musical-theater major, Mormon convert and former Saratoga Springs mayor Ludmya “Mia” Love (R-UT-4). Whatever you think of her politics, by all accounts, Love is a talented actress, a plausible singer-of-show-tunes and not a bad dancer. Maybe she can play herself in this year’s edition of Saturday’s Voyeur.
And at performances of The Nutcracker in December, the delighted laughter of women and little girls could be heard ringing through the newly enlarged restrooms at the expanded Capitol Theater. We ladies have long appreciated the lavish facilities at Abravanel Hall, and now we can thoroughly enjoy second acts at the Capitol Theater too. The new studio space for Ballet West is also pretty wonderful, but sometimes the little things matter.
Happy dancing in 2015!
Amy Brunvand is a librarian at the University of Utah and a dance enthusiast.