Displaying items by tag: Arts Pass

“It’s funny… I’ve never gotten a blister on my foot until this performance,” said University of Utah Dance student Kiya Green.  

Green was referring to BIG BEATS, which she performed last year alongside other U Dance students and faculty as part of the U’s collaboration with Brooklyn-based choreographer Joanna Kotze. Now, nine months later, Green and many of the other dancers will reunite to perform the piece from which BIG BEATS was drawn: ‘lectric Eye.   

‘lectric Eye is a dynamic work by Joanna Kotze. Presented by the U’s School of Dance and Utah Presents, ‘lectric Eye explores the human body’s potential for persistence, resistance, and power. U faculty and students will dance alongside Kotze, the key ‘lectric Eye performers, and other freelance dancers in this exciting work that features music from composer/musician Ryan Seaton and lighting design by Kathy Kaufman.  

Hosting ‘lectric Eye on campus provided a unique chance for faculty and students to dance alongside each other as professionals, to feel that exhaustion and triumph together as peers. And it’s been a way to once again build a new community. “Being able to do both BIG BEATS and ‘lectric Eye with this community is very special,” Kotze said. “I feel the excitement and the commitment from everybody who is involved. There’s really such a generosity amongst the dancers.”  

“It's going to kind of like be like riding a bike,” Green said of heading into rehearsals for ‘lectric Eye. But she’s most excited to be reunited with her fellow cast members and work with them again.

The bond between the dancers reflects one of the key elements Kotze built into the piece: community.

U Dance student Lily Hammons (who will be graduating this week), says this kind of dance was different than anything she’s done before. “A lot of the things I’ve been working on lately have been less choreographically driven and more abstract, more improv-based,” she said. “So this choreography is very different as it was already set… and I haven’t ever done that. That was kind of challenging for me to be able to fit into it.”  

Green says her experience with the choreography has been similar. “When I dance, personally, I let my mind go and my body does whatever,” she said. “Having to constantly be engaged and being aware of what’s happening — in a 360! — is really interesting… It’s a group dance, but everybody has their individual responsibilities. It keeps me very engaged.”  

The movement doesn’t aim for the dancers to become lost in the group. Rather, it heightens both the dancers’ and the audience’s perception of individuality. “The thing that’s been interesting to me is how we see [the] individual within the collective unison,” Kotze said. While all the dancers are performing the same movements, their differences and quirks and intricacies can be more apparent, and the dancers have worked through that process in their rehearsals," said Kotze. “We work to arrive there together in each person's own way of learning and also their own architecture of their own body.” 

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Additionally, it’s imperative that the dancers actively work together. “Each person has to be very attuned to what’s happening,” Kotze described. “Because if somebody messes up, if somebody goes in the wrong direction… you have to be right there with everybody else to get that person back on track.” 

The energy and focus required to complete this section of ‘lectric Eye makes it feel like a marathon feat. For Hammons, that sense of accomplishment has built community for her. “With people of such wide varieties of backgrounds, [it] has been really rewarding for me to be able to see how we can all just come together and learn this really complex movement and be completely exhausted, but also exhilarated at the same time,” she said.  

This kind of large group unison is not Kotze’s typical style and came about largely due to the environment of ‘lectric Eye’s creation. Kotze began choreographing the ‘lectric Eye in 2018, working with composer/musician Ryan Seaton as well as with dancer (and U Dance Professor) Molly Heller. Eventually adding in dancers Wendell Gray II and Symara Sarai to the core group, Kotze realized she wanted more people performing these movements together. “It was the middle of COVID,” she said, “and we all really wanted to be with other people… it was something that I couldn’t get out of my mind… because of where we were in history.” 

“Being able to do both BIG BEATS and ‘lectric Eye with this community is very special.”
- Joanna Kotze

As the piece transitions out of the group piece and into the first of its four solos, that history is again reflected to the audience. The music for the piece is performed onstage by Ryan Seaton, who sings “How do we continue?” As the energy of the group leaves the stage, and a solo performer is left isolated, that question feels even more poignant. 

The first solo is performed by Kotze. Lit by a spotlight, the space of the stage seemingly shrinks. After the explosiveness of the first section, Kotze uses her solo to draw attention to the labor of slow tension. “There’s this effort of constantly moving in the first section,” she said. “So when I was developing this solo, I was challenging myself to use time in a different way. How long does it take for my body to [stretch]?”  

Pushing the body to its limit also comes up in Professor Molly Heller’s solo, which is at the end of ‘lectric Eye. “[The] art of my solos is very much for me about the repetition and the vulnerability of doing something over and over again, and what emerges from those tasks,” Heller said. “Every single time I do the solo I literally think to myself, 'I don’t know if I can do this.'” Due to how demanding the solo is — not to mention the first section of the piece — Heller’s performance communicates the need for persistence and living in the moment. “There’s something about [the solo] that requires me to be really, really, really present. Like, I don’t know if I can get through this, but what if I just focus on this one movement right now… there’s a rawness and humanness I think that people can relate to.”  

It’s part of Kotze’s aim with ‘lectric Eye to show how demanding the movement can be. “A lot of my work exposes effort and labor in the body in a way that, say, ballet doesn’t,” she said. “It’s not about creating the effort on top of something, but what is the actual movement and how does effort and labor emerge from doing that movement.” And this isn’t just about the physical feat of the performance, she said, adding, “I think I’m drawn to that because life is effortful… life is challenging.”

This is where the thematic elements of the piece come together — where community, solitude, labor, and persistence meet. “The piece has been created during a particular political and social time in this country,” Kotze said. “That has definitely played a role in terms of how to we persist, how do we resist, and how do we continue to find power within ourselves and as a collective.”  

In this way, the piece communicates a powerful realization. “There’s a kind of empowerment of knowing you can get through something and you can still keep doing it given what shows up in the moment,” Heller said.  

Hammons agrees, adding that she finds support in the dancers around her. “I am always exhausted by the end. It’s nice to feel exhausted and to know that everyone around you knows that you’re exhausted but you’re still going.” For Kotze, that’s a very joyous element of the piece: “You come out the other end thinking, 'wow, we did this, and we did this together.'” 

See ‘lectric Eye May 9-11 at 7:30 pm in the Marriott Center for Dance. Purchase tickets here.

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It’s not until the play has already started that we find out what role each cast member will be playing for that particular performance. It’s a lottery system. Done live for all to see. And that’s just the beginning of the intrigue with Everybody, the Department of Theatre’s final production of the season directed by Robert Scott Smith and running from April 5-14 in the Babcock Theatre (300 South University Street). 

A modernized adaption of the 15th century play, Everyman, this story dives deep into some of humanity’s early explorations of morality and death.

“Even with around 500 years between the two shows, the core questions and themes are still completely relevant,” said the production’s dramaturg Lauren Carn. “As much as our society has evolved since the 15th century, it is somewhat comforting to know that we are still considering the same question as the audience members of the original Everyman, which is: ‘How can I be a good person?’”

Though perhaps a bit macabre, the work is woven with humor and heart. At the top of the play, five actors who play Somebody are approached by Death who tells them to prepare for the inevitable. These Somebodies convince Death to allow time to find someone to bring along for the journey. At that point, the lottery begins and out of the Somebodies we find out who’s going to go on that journey as Everybody.  

Everybody is “losing who they are but gaining the wisdom and acceptance of their fate,” Macey Shackelford described, who plays one of the five Somebodies, which represent: Everybody, Kinship, Friendship, Cousinship and Stuff.

“What I find interesting about the story is that we know we know how it ends at the top of the show; Everybody dies and meets God,” said Michael Tirrell, who also plays a Somebody. “It's about HOW they get there and the journey we all take that leads us there.” 

The arc of the play is somewhat of a reflection of the process of putting it on.

“This has been one of the most challenging, exhilarating, and entertaining productions I have ever worked on,” said Smith. “Part of the joy will be experiencing this with multiple audiences as we wait in anticipation for the lottery and then watch what happens. Anything is possible, or is it? Death is something we will all experience, we just don’t know when.”

This exciting and important production is not to be missed. An ASL interpreted performance and audience talkback will take place on Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m.

University of Utah students get free tickets with their UCard, thanks to the Arts Pass program. Find other ticketing and parking information here

Content Advisory
This production is recommended for ages twelve and older. Children under the age of four will not be admitted. If you have additional questions, please email us at . Please note that more detailed advisories may contain information that reveals plot elements in advance, AKA "spoilers." 

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March 06 2024

Art affirms belonging

By Ashley Jian Thomson

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts just unveiled a new exhibit, “Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo.” On display through June 30th, this collection follows three female artists of Japanese descent through their personal and artistic journeys before, during, and after World War II.

Although World War II history in America is not a new topic to most viewers, they may not be familiar with the particular names of Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo. Dr. ShiPu Wang, Exhibition Curator and Professor of Art History at UC Merced shared possible reasons why: “For a lot of artists, if you are not collected by museums, there's no access. Then you don't get studied because nobody would know what your work looked like. If you are not represented by a commercial gallery, then there's no market. If your estate is not actively selling works or circulating them, you don't get name recognition. None of them [Hayakawa, Hibi, and Okubu] had that; it’s basically [their] families preserving the works.” 

"'Belonging’ is really an active word. It is to say that, look at history. They [the artists] belong because they were making art and physical things to take up space, to be visible, to be part of the community. So they were using art also a way to affirm their belonging.”

While taking time to contact the families was a heavy lift, taking time to go through and unwrap each artwork was another. Dr. Wang is an independent curator who works without a team. He shared, “It's not just a simple matter of walking into a storage room and you can see all the paintings. They’re everywhere. So you have to unpack everything. And I, being meticulous, wanted to unwrap it the right way. And then you have to rewrap it the right way. So every visit is three hours straight, four hours straight. And that's not enough and so you have to keep going back. And so, understandably, for a lot of museum curators, that's a lot of commitment.” 

 Belonging1Self-portraits by Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo

Left: Hisako Hibi, Study for a Self-Portrait, ca. 1944. Japanese American National Museum 99.63.1; Middle: Miki Hayakawa, Untitled (Woman with Blue Hair), ca. 1930s. Oil on canvas, 18 x 19.25 in. Collection of Richard Sakai; Right: Miné Okubo, Portrait Study, ca. 1937. Tempera on panel, 23.5 x 19.5 in. SAAM

However, Dr. Wang’s dedication to uncovering the works of Hayakawa, Hibi, and Okubo stemmed from the artists themselves and he explained why he kept going back, “I am inspired by their stories because they had such long careers and they [remained] committed.” The discovery of their work and the stories told through their art was justification in itself.

In addition to the framed paintings, Dr. Wang thought it was important to show the artists’ notes and sketches to allow viewers to have more context to process the work. Museum goers can study the drawings, then immediately look up to see the finished artworks hanging above.

Regarding interest surrounding this collection, Dr. Wang reports, “I’m really happy to see that in the field of American art, there are a lot of curators and museums that are now paying attention.” Besides the UMFA, who is the first stop along this national tour, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has accepted the exhibition, as well as, Stanford’s Cantor Art Museum in California, which has The Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI). “This show is to bring out that rich history and say, ‘What's going on? Let's think about it.’ ‘Belonging’ is really an active word. It is to say that, look at history. They [the artists] belong because they were making art and physical things to take up space, to be visible, to be part of the community. So they were using art also a way to affirm their belonging.”

In order to best appreciate this gallery, Dr. Wang recommends, “The best kind ofexperience…is to be surprised. You go in and you explore and you find things, because an exhibition like this is not meant to tell. It is an open invitation, and personally, I like that kind of exhibition.”

On Wednesday, March 13th at 6 PM in the Dumke Auditorium, please join us for a presentation and conversation with Dr. ShiPu Wang, curator of the special exhibition “Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo.” A Q&A will follow the talk.

Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo
Now through June 30, 2024

Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Marcia and John Price Museum Building
410 Campus Center Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0350

Closed Mondays
Tues, Thurs-Sun 10a–5p
Weds 10a–8p

UMFA members, U students, staff, and faculty | FREE
More ticketing information at https://umfa.utah.edu/admission


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February 15 2024

No one is alone

The University of Utah Department of Theatre presents “Into The Woods,” February 16 - 25 at the Babcock Theatre. This beloved fairytale mashup by the Pulitzer-Prize-winning team of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, brings together a Grimm cast of characters whose paths cross in unexpected ways. When their wishes lead to dangerous consequences, these familiar characters must reckon with unfamiliar questions: Whose story is this? And how do we want it to end?

For many, especially aficionados of musical theatre, "Into The Woods" is a classic that is simply hard to beat. When asked what makes it so special, the cast was pretty unanimous in their response: the music. 

For actor James Wong, who plays the Baker, it was hard to pinpoint just one beloved song. "My favorite songs are probably ‘Stay with Me,’ ‘On the Steps of the Palace,’ 'Giants In The Sky, and ‘Moments in the Woods," he said. "This musical was one of the first shows that I'd ever seen, so I have a lot of favorite things about the show."

“The score is so brilliantly written. You could listen to the music alone and still understand so many parts of the script,” said actor Helena Goei, who tackles the role of the Witch. Goei also pointed out that in this particular staging, the orchestra plays on stage rather than below in the pit, bringing them even closer to the sound. "We are all working together to create this play world," Goei said. "The show would be nothing without them." 

Nathan Ginsberg mentioned that the music was essential in the development of his character, Jack. "Studying the score has really made me appreciate the attention to detail that composers put into their music, and it’s been fun to implement that detail into my storytelling," he said. 

Bolstered by the music, "Into the Woods" imparts powerful lessons that stay with all those who touch it. 

"I’m hoping that the community takes away the message that 'No one is alone,' Ginsberg said. "In a time where we are so isolated by technology and politics, it’s really easy to feel alone. 'Into the Woods' helps to show how the people around us can help us get through difficult times when things don’t go our way."

James Wong agreed, "I think the University community should come to this show because it's a timeless classic. There's so much that can be studied about it from an academic perspective, and it teaches lessons for everyone. I hope that [the audience] can learn to be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. I think a line that captures this well is 'You may know what you need. But to get what you want, better see that you keep what you have.'"

In reflecting on the process, the cast also emphasized their gratitude for the priceless memories created.

"My favorite thing about the show is having an opportunity to spend a lot of time with my classmates to create this beautiful show to close out my senior year at the U, said Little Red actor Paris Howard. "Many of the cast members are in the Class of 2024 who were impacted by COVID which limited the opportunities for many of us. It is great to have this show as an exclamation point for the end of our senior year."

Directed by assistant professor David Eggers, this show is sure to delight. We'll see you there! 

Into the Woods  
Babcock Theatre

Friday, 2/16 @ 7:30 PM
Saturday, 2/17 @ 2 PM
Saturday, 2/17 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, 2/18 @ 2 PM
Thursday, 2/22 @ 7:30 PM
Friday, 2/23 @ 7:30 PM*
Saturday, 2/24 @ 2 PM
Saturday, 2/24 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, 2/25 @ 2 PM

*ASL Interpreted performance and Audience Talkback

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For many, including U Theatre’s Laurel Morgan, Shakespeare and “The Tempest” feel like old friends. 

 “I did the log scene with Miranda and Ferdinand in a high school competition!” exclaimed Morgan, referring to a well-loved section of the play—Act III, Scene 1, to be exact. A fourth year student in the Department of Theatre, Morgan plays Ariel in  the department’s production of ‘The Tempest’ that opens this weekend  and runs through Nov 19.  

“It was exciting and so playful, and both of those characters are so naive and curious. I was excited to revisit the production in my fourth year of college, after seven years,” she said.  

Fellow fourth year student and assistant director Camden Barrett related a similar experience. “I also did the log scene! I feel like that was one of my first experiences doing a scene from Shakespeare with my peers…I look back on that as one of the moments that ignited that love for Shakespeare.”  

"Theater offers a shared opportunity to communicate emotions and feelings. I think what's so beautiful about ‘The Tempest’ is it's about forgiveness. It's about finding compassion in people when it's hard. It's about taking time to heal.”

Camden Barrett, assistant director

Director Melinda Pfundstein has had over 25 years of formal Shakespeare training and is a long-time member of the acting and directing team of Utah Shakespeare Festival. It is surprising –– and perhaps serendipitous –– that this experience with the U Theatre cast is her first with the famed play. 

“I feel really lucky to do [The Tempest] in this environment with such a supportive program and in a place where all of my ‘Tempest’ dreams could come true –– not just because of the world that I was interested in creating, but in the devised aspects I feel are so woven into the fabric of the story,” Pfundstein said. “This cast, and these artists have been yes all the way.”

U Theatre student Kirsten Henriquez plays Prospera, a powerful noblewoman betrayed by her own family, now living in exile with her daughter Miranda. “There were more layers of her that were discovered throughout the process,” Henriquez reflected. “I think I focused a lot on the themes of, at least in the beginning, power and the misuse of power. Later on, she discovers her own humanity, I would say.” Henriquez allowed this process of discovery to happen naturally: “Prospera takes her time trying to find [forgiveness] in the end, and I took my time to find that in the end for Prospera as well as an actor.” 

For Laurel Morgan, the show’s lessons have bled into life. 

“I feel like ‘The Tempest’ specifically is a show that has kept me curious about how we are all the same,” she said. “I think it's so easy in life and in art to focus on how we are different, but from Caliban, who's seen as the bad servant, [to] Ariel, the fairy –– how do these otherworldly creatures connect and feel in the same way as a human? All of the ways that, instead of trying to be different, how can we look at each other and see ourselves reflected back?”  

tempest1Laurel Morgan and Kirsten Henriquez in "The Tempest" | Photo Todd Collins

The themes of forgiveness, evolution, and transformation are carried not only in the performances but in scenic, costume, and sound design as well. One prominent motif is seaglass: previously used glass that has been discarded and given a new shape by the ocean. 

“Early on, I knew I wanted to dig into the generational habits and what was being passed on to Miranda and the next generation, and what was being burned off or healed,” Pfundstein explained. “[Seaglass] is known to wash up on the shore, smoothed by the ocean, and then becomes this beautiful symbol of transformation. And then the lore around it is that when you wear it, it breaks when it's been used up.” 

Scenic designer Kyle Becker, U Theatre’s technical director, found and incorporated imagery of rising strata. Brenda Van der Wiel, costume designer, worked seaglass into the costume pieces. Props master Arika Schockmel led students to build seaglass lights that immerse the audience in the sea, then spill onto the stage.  

“It's just magical. Just from word 'go,' the whole team has been at their creative best,” Pfundstein said.

The cast and crew have found countless modern lessons in the well-known play, and urge the campus community to discover — or rediscover — “The Tempest” through this production.

“With every production we see, we always take a message for ourselves –– we walk away with a feeling,” Henriquez said. “I think some of those for ‘The Tempest’ could be how to seek for connection, and how to do the inner work in order to reach for each other.”

Camden Barrett echoed the sentiment.

“I think it's hard being a human right now in a really contentious world. I think as students too, it's hard to know what to do with those hard feelings and speak about them when our bodies always feel in conflict with the conflict in the world. Theatre offers a shared opportunity to communicate emotions and feelings. I think what's so beautiful about ‘The Tempest’ is it's about forgiveness. It's about finding compassion in people when it's hard. It's about taking time to heal.”

tempest2Cast of U Theatre's "The Tempest" | Photo Todd Collins

Babcock Theatre
November 10 – 19, 2023

Friday, 11/10 @ 7:30 PM
Saturday, 11/11 @ 2 PM
Saturday, 11/11 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, 11/12 @ 2 PM
Thursday, 11/16 @ 7:30 PM
Friday, 11/17 @ 7:30 PM*
Saturday, 11/18 @ 2 PM**
Saturday, 11/18 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, 11/19 @ 2 PM

*ASL Interpreted performance and Audience Talkback
** Sensory-Friendly matinee

U Students free with Arts Pass! 

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The recently passed dance legend Joan Woodbury once said, “It was through movement that I understood life.” This concept is explored in Contemporary New Works, the vibrant concert presented by the School of Dance this month. Concert director Daniel Clifton urges audiences to prepare for “dances that celebrate creativity, physicality, humanity, and our collective exploration of self, one another, and the world around us.” 

Contemporary New Works will take place on the Hayes Memorial Theatre stage in the Marriott Center for Dance with performances from Nov. 9 through Nov. 18. The concert presents new works choreographed by guest artists jo Blake and Gesel Mason, as well as faculty artists Sara Pickett and Daniel Clifton, all of which will be performed by majors and minors in the School of Dance. Cumulatively, the performance will “present the human body in ways that transcend mere entertainment,” said Clifton.  

The concert will begin with a piece directed by Clifton, Associate Professor (Lecturer) in the School of Dance, titled “Ribbons of Rust and Analog Magnetic Memories.” The piece, which draws inspiration from post-punk aesthetics, “weaves together nostalgia, post-punk, memory, lost connections, and the activation of voice,” he said.  

Next, guest artist jo Blake presents his piece “a single strand in a spider’s web,” dedicated to WSU dancer Courtney Conver Harris as well as Professor Emeritus Joan Woodbury, and set to music by Italian composer Ezio Bosso. Blake thanked the School of Dance students for their “ability to devour material, explore possibilities, and nurture my creative intention.”  

Following Blake’s piece is “Seraph,” choreographed by guest Gesel Mason. This piece is based on a solo Mason created and performed in 1998 titled “Black Angel,” which was a response to the murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, TX. This murder was eventually recognized in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Acted, signed in 2009. Now, 25 years after Byrd’s death, Mason has restaged that original solo for six dancers. “This work grapples with humanity’s ongoing relationship with violence and hate,” stated Mason.  

Lastly, the concert will end with “One and Nine,” a piece choreographed by Associate Professor (lecturer) Sara Pickett in collaboration with the dancers. The piece was conceptualized by considering “how social media creates space for performing and watching,” said Pickett. “What emerged was a celebration of the group and joy in dancing for and with one another.”  

Tickets for the show can be purchased at tickets.utah.edu and at the door. University of Utah students get free access with their student ID thanks to the Arts Pass program, which makes hundreds of arts experiences accessible to U students each year. 

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Opening October 27 and running through November 5 2023, the University of Utah Department of Theatre presents “Town Hall,” by OBIE award-winner Caridad Svich and directed by Latoya Cameron. Described as "a play/a conversation/a story about life and living in an ever-changing world: a place we thought we knew, once upon a time," "Town Hall" is not to be missed.

In an interview in 2017 first published by The Lark, and shared by The Theatre Times, Caridad Svich offered a glimpse inside the piece:

“There is a script. There are words that will be said. Yes. I am not doing away with text. I have a very particular way of thinking about shape and sound, meaning and affect, white space and no space, and how the score is to be played and/or decoded in performance. But we—all those on the creative team (and by extension, those in the audience)— are all invited to share in the dream-making, because there are very little if any directions in the text as to how to go about finding the vocabulary of the world of the play. What is that expression about directing? Some plays are discovered and others are propped up? I prefer the former. And the more life experience is in the room, the richer the process of discovery is and the richer the discovery is itself.”

While embracing and embodying the unconventional script/score, the cast has found new flexibility in their abilities, and in the possibilities of modern theatre. 

Griz Siebeneck is studying in the Actor Training Program as well as majoring in Criminology. “During this production I feel like I learned skills for an entirely new discipline. This kind of experimental, activist theatre is its own beast in the way Shakespeare and musical theatre are,” they explained. “It feels uncomfortable and strange, but that discomfort is where the greatest growth happens. (Much like the discomfort this show may offer to audiences. We can all grow together.)”

"Being an active player in telling the story prevents actors to look away from what is happening around us every day. Climate anxiety and hopelessness compound with fear and horror, and yet we live on."

Siebeneck tackles the role of E.

“Throughout the creative process we’ve identified A and S as talkers, while E and B are doers,” they said. “One cannot exist without the other. I’m hoping the audience will gain curiosity about what we justify as being ‘the way things are.’ That we can reflect on what things are and what we want them to be. And then do something about it.”

"Town Hall" lives amongst the very issues that are top of mind (and news) today.

“In today’s world, the show continues to be extremely topical. Being an active player in telling the story prevents actors to look away from what is happening around us every day. Climate anxiety and hopelessness compound with fear and horror, and yet we live on. But the show does not only center on these gloomy conditions. It explores beauty and joy and calls on the actor and the audience alike to take action,” Siebeneck said.

Tyler Kline, who plays B in the show, studies Pre-med in addition to Theatre in the Actor Training Program. “For me personally, the most difficult part of the process was allowing myself to be open and grounded with the peculiarities of this show,” Kline said.

“It demands that I am the character. In other productions and works, I have portrayed characters as someone else with hints of me sprinkled in. But in this case, the most terrifying part is that I am myself in this production and that it requires a lot of patience and vulnerability.”

Come share space with "Town Hall." You won’t be sorry.

"It was last night
It was a millennia ago
The trees were in bloom
Everything seemed possible
I was here
We were alive
It was a dream
Just like this one"

Town Hall
PAB Studio
115 240 South 1500 East

Friday, 10/27 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, 10/29 @ 2 PM
Sunday, 10/29 @ 7:30 PM
Wednesday 11/1 @ 7:30 PM
Thursday, 11/2 @ 7:30 PM
Friday, 11/3 @ 7:30 PM* 
Sunday, 11/5 @ 2 PM**
Sunday, 11/5 @ 7:30 PM
*ASL Interpreted performance and Audience Talkback
** Sensory-Friendly matinee

Free for University of Utah students through Arts Pass!

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A beloved interdisciplinary tradition is alive once more in the University of Utah School of Music October 26 and 27, just in time for Halloween.

“Nightmares & Visions,” the annual haunted orchestra concert, features the Utah Philharmonia, choreographers and dancers from the School of Dance, and young students from U Music’s Preparatory Division. The all-ages event gives audiences the chance to celebrate the spooky season with the arts.

“This year’s theme being 'Nightmares and Visions,' we have lots of eeriness to offer, with scores ranging from John Williams to Danny Elman,” Yasmine Abuelhija, an undergraduate student studying cello, said. “Getting to play the music that I grew up hearing in Halloween movies is a feeling of excitement that never really goes away. These concerts are never just a performance, but more so an experience, which is what gets younger kids engaged and excited about our music.”

Two of the program’s selections, “L’Histoire du Soldat” by Igor Stravinsky and “Conga del Fuego Nuevo” by Arturo Marquez, feature original choreography.

Something unique about this collaboration is that everyone involved comes from all kinds of different departments and backgrounds. This concert is an opportunity for all of us to unite our different art forms into one coherent experience that can be enjoyed by all.”

-Yasmine Abuelhija, cellist

Student choreographer Kendall MacMillan, studying ballet and film, dove headfirst into the Stravinsky score. “Stravinsky is such a special composer and it's also really hard to count. I just took the opportunity to forget all the boundaries that we've learned as dancers, and choreographers, and artists, in general, and just break the rules and just move,” she explained.

Exchange Student in ballet from Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Anette Garcia Fuentes, sought inspiration from Folklorico in her choreography for “Conga del Fuego Nuevo.”

folkloricoSchool of Dance, Adjunct Associate Professor, Justine Sheedy-Kramer, helps students try on their Folklorico-inspired costumes.“I'm trying to show the combination between the music and the beautiful movement of the arms and skirts,” she said. “Live music allows dancers to feel every single note...Once [the dancers] get used to it, they can start hearing the rhythm and that allows them to not just think about the timing or fixate on specific counts.” 

Each artist of a different discipline must be confident in their role in order for the collaboration to come together.

“Part of our responsibility as musicians is to prepare our individual parts beforehand, so that our rehearsal time can be used to piece the ensemble together,” Yasmine Abuelhija explained. “As we approach concert week, our priority shifts towards putting all the finalized moving parts (dance, music, preparatory students) together. It’s a pretty complex process on behalf of our conductor, but he always finds a way to make it happen. These concerts really are magic.”

Costumes are the final crucial element, fully embraced by company and audience alike. Conductor Dr. Robert Baldwin even gives young audience members a chance to join in a costume parade, making them a part of the celebration.

“Getting to collaborate with the School of Dance and Preparatory division is such a treat for us, Abuelhija said. “Something unique about this collaboration is that everyone involved comes from all kinds of different departments and backgrounds. This concert is an opportunity for all of us to unite our different art forms into one coherent experience that can be enjoyed by all.”  

Nightmares & Visions
Annual Haunted Orchestra Concert

October 26 & 27, 2023
7:30 – 8:30PM
Libby Gardner Concert Hall
U Students free with Arts Pass!

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Those making plans for a perfect Halloween outing need look no further than Pioneer Theatre Company’s “The Rocky Horror Show,” running October 20 - 31, with a special 10p performance on Halloween night.  

A groundbreaking cult musical and beloved glam rock tribute to B-horror films, “The Rocky Horror Show” returns with some of the most iconic characters in musical theatre history: squares Brad and Janet, mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter, his “monster,” and, of course, a swath of drive-in usherettes and creepy sidekicks.

"It's not every day you get to throw a styrofoam hotdog at a Broadway veteran!"

Several members of the University of Utah community are integral in the production, including Department of Theatre alumna Micki Martinez in the featured role of Columbia.

"One of my favorite parts about being in 'Rocky Horror' is working with the incredibly talented cast. They have all been so wonderful, and it feels great to be back at PTC taking on such a fun role," Martinez said. 

Audiences have the unique opportunity to see the cult classic come to life in a way they have never seen it before...and everything is LIVE!," she continued. "They can participate in the usual call outs and even purchase prop kits to use throughout the show. It's not every day you get to throw a styrofoam hotdog at a Broadway veteran!"

The show’s costumes are designed by fellow alumnus and current Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Aaron Asano Swenson. "This is my third time designing 'Rocky' for PTC, and that’s an opportunity you rarely get," Swenson explained.

"It’s always challenging, time-wise (I think we had twelve days of rehearsal before first dress?), but it’s uniquely rewarding. You don’t have time to second-guess anything, so there’s this incredible sense of trust and collaboration. And after eight years away, I get to see it with fresh eyes — the design aspect, yes, but also the amazing work from the costume shop, wardobe, stage management, the artistic team, the cast, the musicians…that’s what makes this insane process survivable and fruitful and enjoyable."

Also appearing in the cast as Phantoms are five current University of Utah Department of Theatre students: Lauren Crutcher, Jordan Cruz, Evan Latta, Lila Prince, and James Wong. 

Join PTC for a full throttle Rocky Horror experience in all of its interactive, campy glory—celebrating the landmark musical’s 50th anniversary. Let’s all do the time warp again!

University of Utah students are able to get up to two $5 tickets with their UCard (thanks to Arts Pass!) if they go to the rush window within an hour before show time. If students want reserved seating ahead of time, they can get up to two tickets half price by scanning their UCard in person at the box office. 

The Rocky Horror Show 
October 20—31, 2023
Pioneer Theatre Company

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Time punctuates all we know. It shapes how we compartmentalize events, remember and retell our histories, and how we mark the passing of our own lived experience.

In Era, the School of Dance’s largest concert of the semester, audiences can expect to experience old and new ballet and modern dance works that span and entertain notions of time. The concert is staged in the Marriott Center for Dance’s Hayes Christensen Theatre and runs from Oct. 5-21, with the performances on Oct. 5-7 being live-streamed.

“This performance is a diverse experience incorporating aspects of traditional ballet, classic modern dance, and new perspectives in contemporary dance and ballet,” said Era Director and Assistant Professor Pablo Piantino as he described the faculty’s responsibility to challenge students with new and longstanding concepts. “It will display the talent, versatility, and professionalism of our wonderful students and the artistry and expertise of our esteemed faculty and invited guest.”

In an incredibly unique and special opportunity for the students and audience members alike, the School of Dance was granted permission to stage a work by José Limón, a Mexican-born dancer and choreographer regarded as one of the 20th century’s most important and influential dancemakers. Restaged by Assistant Professor Natalie Desch, who formerly danced with Limón Dance Company, the suite from A Choreographic Offering ends the evening with its movement some have described as a vibrant and colorful embodiment of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music.

But back to the start. The concert begins with BLiNK choreographed by Assistant Professor Melissa Bobick. Inspired by the unique joy Oliver Davis’ music gives her, Bobick created a piece dedicated to her dancers and drawn from her own personal experience as a dancer, a spouse, and a mother.

“My hope is that by embodying this movement, their joy in dancing, and even the physical demands of performing this piece, they will be fully present in this one experience so as not to let this moment pass them by,” she said.

Guest artist Helanius J. Wilkins’ piece Together follows and illustrates the value of human connectedness in both the ebb and flow of the performers’ movements and the questions their bodies pose. Wilkins’ is an award-winning choreographer, performance artist, artist-activist, and educator whose artmaking forges paths toward social change and equitable landscapes.

Up next is Arthur Saint-Léon’s pas de six from his historic ballet La Vivandière, which has been restaged by Assistant Professor Christopher Alloways-Ramsey. This piece, choreographed in 1844 during a time of war between Morocco and France, is a story about how love can transcend time and conflict.

Tickets for the show can be purchased at tickets.utah.edu and at the door. University of Utah students get free access with their student ID thanks to the Arts Pass program, which makes hundreds of arts experiences accessible to U students each year.

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