Displaying items by tag: Dance

Research from two University of Utah College of Fine Arts undergraduate students was recently published in the university's 2020 Undergraduate Research Journal. The Undergraduate Research Journal collects and celebrates the contributions our undergraduate students from all over campus make to scholarship in their fields.

Sydney Porter Williams from the Department of Art & Art History focused her research on the outcomes and benefits of a collaborative mural project in Murray, while Amelie Bennett from the School of Dance examined the role of dance therapy in improving empathy and emotion recognition in non-clinical adults and children. 

We encourage you to learn more about these important student projects, as well as discover the work of many other undergraduate researchers from across campus disciplines! 


THE MURRAY MURALS PROJECT: CONNECTING LIVES ON CANVAS -- Sydney Porter Williams, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty Mentor: V. Kim Martinez

"The Murray Murals Project is a collaborative effort between University of Utah art students and thousands of Murray youth and community members. These groups worked collaboratively over the course of the fall 2018 semester to create community-engaged, portable murals for nine Murray elementary schools. These murals now hang in the halls of these schools, giving students ownership of their artwork and of their communities." 

Faculty Mentor: Kate Mattingly

"This work examines the commonly accepted notion of dance/movement therapy that mirroring another person’s movement will increase both participants’ levels of empathy. Mirroring involves a participant creating expressive dance; in a therapeutic setting, the therapist mirrors their movements to establish a relationship and gain insight into their physical and emotional experience."



Published in Finer Points Blog

It is our great pleasure to present the 2020 Outstanding Seniors from the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. Each year,  our five academic units nominate an outstanding senior for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. These graduating students continue the CFA's tradition of sending strong creative leaders out into the art world. Congratulations, and our hats off to you! 

A Message from Liz Leckie, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs

Pisti Gamvroulas AAH

 Name: Pisti Gamvroulas
Majors and minors: Art with Graphic Design Emphasis, Minor in Arts & Technology
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Hard-working, and Compassionate
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Xi Zhang’s Drawing 1 Course. Xi is an exceptionally kind and genuine human who cares for each and every one of his students. He is consistently pushing them to do their best work, and experiment in their process. His instruction allowed me to explore my strengths and to understand my weaknesses and how I could improve myself. 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Learning about and working in the wood shop during my Foundations year and somehow leaving with all my limbs attached. 
One thing you learned at CFA: Community matters. It’s important to connect with others that can understand and support you through the challenges you face in a creative industry, and that can cheer you on through the successes you accomplish. Being connected with others helps you grow as a creative and find spectacular humans that you can form relationships with for years to come. 
What inspires you: Humanistic Design/Art/Research/Places that motivate people to connect with one another and/or share human experiences. Designers like Timothy Goodman, who’s work expresses his emotions and tells stories that everyone can relate to, is very inspiring. Spaces like the National Museum of American History that focus on visitor interaction offer multiple forms of insight into how we can create spaces that bring people together. Podcasts like “The Happiness Lab”, that offer scientific insight into how we can live more content lives and connect with others. 
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: During my time at the University of Utah, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with campus programs such as the Office of Student Success & Empowerment, The Muse Project, Bennion Center, and Intramural Sports. I created my own student organization called “U Got Game?” based on bringing students together to learn a variety of sports, and am the VP of the UofU AIGA, helping create a community amongst all design practices at the U. In the summer of 2019 I was fortunate enough to intern with the exhibition design team at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington D.C. I will be interning with an interdisciplinary architectural company, Sasaki, in Massachusetts this upcoming summer. 
One sentence that describes your work: Human centered design/art that uses humor, color, and/or bright subjects to create positive solutions for a variety of people. 


"Pisti’s participation in class, enthusiasm and diligent work habits set a wonderful example for her fellow classmates. She consistently goes above and beyond what is expected of her, both academically and beyond. It is not very often that we have the opportunity to engage with such a committed student. This same commitment to learn is also demonstrated in her pursuit in a career in graphic design. This led to landing a coveted, nationally competitive design internship at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. This demonstrates her high degree of self-motivation and professionalism. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Pisti is a pleasure to work with. She engages with her teachers and fellow students with a smile on her face. Even in  the midst of tackling a difficult design problem, Pisti enthusiastically takes on the challenge. Upon solicitation of faculty members for nominations for this award; we received multiple glowing reviews of Pisti. Her love for design is obvious and her positivity is contagious. In addition to her success in the Graphic Design Program and fulfilling the Interdisciplinary Capstone Project in Arts and Technology, she is highly involved in campus life. She is a MUSE scholar, serves as the AIGA (professional organization for design) student body president, and was the lead ambassador for the U of U’s  Undergraduate Studies Student Success and Empowerment Program. This are just a few of the many contributions she has made to the campus community." 

- Carol Sogard
Professor, Department of Art & Art History 

“Pisti is a kind, intelligent, passionate, and brave artist and designer. Pisti’s highly artistic achievements reflects these qualities. I do not doubt she will be a celebrated star in the design community.”
- Xi Zhang
Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History 


Cameron Mertz SoD

Name: Cameron Mertz
Majors and minors: Modern Dance major with a minor in Psychology
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
Three words that describe you: Compassionate, hard-working, resilient
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Junior year improv with Stephen Koester 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Performing “The Middle Way” choreographed by Molly Heller in the 2018 School of Dance Gala at Kingsbury Hall.
One thing you learned at CFA: I learned the importance of allowing myself to be vulnerable in my artmaking even when it’s uncomfortable and scary because, ultimately, that has led me to create work that is personally meaningful and memorable to me.
What inspires you: I’m inspired by things that I experience in my daily life, specifically interactions with people around me, whether intentional or not. I think it’s more fun to be inspired by the mundane than grandeur.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: 

  • 2017-2018 Before She Sleeps in the Sand Choreography by Pamela Gaber-Handman, Performed as part of Legacy Assembly/ Performed as part of American College Dance Association Northwest Conference, selected for Gala Performance/ Performed as part of Breaking Ground Dance & Film Festival/ Performed as part of Performing Dance Company
  • 2017-2018- Awarded the Departmental Scholarship from the Modern Program of the School of Dance at the University of Utah
  • 2018- The Middle Way Choreography by Molly Heller, Performed as part of School of Dance Gala Concert
  • 2018- The Wallflowers Choreography by Brooklyn Draper, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert/ Performed as part of 12 Minutes Max/ Performed as part of Mudson
  • 2019- A Collective Resilience Choreography by Daniel Do, Performed as part of Repertory Dance Theater’s Emerge
  • 2019- Surge Choreography by Anouk Van Dijk, Performed as part of The School of Dance Gala/ Performed as part of Salt Spring Concert2019- Gaga Summer Intensive (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • 2019- Parachute Princess Choreography by E’lise Jumes, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert2019- Becoming Choreography by Joanna Lees, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert
  • 2020- Grey Raven Choreography by Eric Handman, Performed as part of the School of Dance Gala

One sentence that describes your work: For me, I find it important that my work remains honest, explorative and evolving.  


“'WHO IS SHE?!' I remember asking when I first saw Cameron perform on stage at the MCD—she was a newly arrived freshman dancing in a piece by LA hiphop artist Jackie Lopez. Even then, a month into college, her maturity, clarity, fierceness, and stage presence was palpable. She shone on stage. And this star quality has grown exponentially while at the School of Dance. Cameron is a consummate dance artist--- a creative contributor who posseses an absolutely compelling stage presence, a deep thinker, and someone who shows grace and humanity in everything she does." 
- Satu Hummasti
Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor, School of Dance

"Cameron’s committed, vibrant energy draws people to her. She is incredibly hard working and a curious, questioning artist at heart. Cameron is an exceptionally invested artist, one with great integrity, who seeks new research opportunities and mentorship to broaden her dancing life. She not only inspires others with her expansiveness as a performer, but she also exudes humility and perseverance. Inside the classroom, onstage, and within a creative process, she has earned the deep respect of her peers and faculty."

"Faculty feel that Cameron has been, '…an integral part of my choreographic research, influencing the direction, intensity, and depth of the research itself,' and, 'She raises everyone’s game. Inspiring, indefatigable, tirelessly creative and physically powerful.' Her peers feel that she, '…is truly a poetic movement artist. She is incredibly insightful, filled with creative guttural decision-making abilities. Cameron has the ability to always include her unique voice, physical quirks, textures and tonalities in anything that she does. It is a superpower of hers, to always include herself in anything she does; transcending ideas beyond movement, making dance seem otherworldly at times.'" 
-Michael Wall
Modern Dance Program Head & Associate Professor, School of Dance


Katie Phillips FMAD

Name: Katie Rose Phillips
Majors and minors: Film and Media Arts Major, Production Emphasis
Hometown: Midland, Michigan
Three words that describe you: Creative, Confident, Candid
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino
Most memorable moment at CFA: When I was studying abroad in Italy one of the students, Brady Brown, had a scene in his film where he had to jump through a fence and every student on the trip came and helped film that one shot. It was hysterical.
One thing you learned at CFA: Always double check that the camera plate is secure on the tripod.
What inspires you: Telling stories that are important to me and having people connect with those stories.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: Film, Seeing Eye Guy, featured at the Block Festival. Film, Grieving A Broad, showcased in Italy and the United States. Forward for the Utah Howl Women’s Ice Hockey team.
One sentence that describes your work: Rediscovering yourself is the first step to overcoming loneliness.

“During her time in the Department of Film & Media Arts, Katie has proven to be a very valuable member of this community. In class, she is always engaged and her willingness to learn is contagious; her films have a maturity level that is unseen in filmmakers of her age; and she’s always advocating for female empowering stories that reflect the different facets of the female experience. She is a strong talented young filmmaker who uses cinema to provoke positive change.”
- Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino 
Assistant Professors, Department of Film & Media Arts

"Our Department is committed to empowering students to tell stories that matter to them. Katie has done just that. Her creativity, ambition, and perseverance have earned her the respect of her peers and instructors. We expect great things of her in the years ahead." 
- Andrew Patrick Nelson 
Chair, Department of Film & Media Arts 


Tony Elison SoM

Name: Tony Elison
Majors and minors: Honors BMus in Jazz Composition, minor in Computer Science
Hometown: American Fork, UT
Three words that describe you: open-minded, reflective, curious
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Jazz Composition and Arranging
Most memorable moment at CFA: premiering original works at senior recital
One thing you learned at CFA: how to network
What inspires you: real, sincere, hard-working people who love what they do
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus:

  • Learned how to learn
  • Developed a love for reading
  • Sharpened writing skills
  • Widened my musical palette
  • Established a reputation for professionalism in the SLC music community

One sentence that describes your work: It’s my hope that my work reflects authentic, musical expression, capable of moving and elevating the listener.

"I’ve known Tony as a work-study student who works at the front desk in the Music Office, and a scholarship recipient as a member of the Michie Jazz Quintet, which plays at many events on campus, including the Presidents Office. I’ve always been very impressed with his jazz piano playing and arranging. He's very unassuming, and I didn't know until recently of his impressive performance credits (including Carnegie Hall and Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center in New York!) or his minor in computer science. He is an Honors student with a GPA at the very top of his graduating class. Behind his unassuming manner there is a tremendously talented and intelligent jazz musician who has already reached some impressive milestones. He has a bright future ahead of him!" 
- Miguel Chuaqui
Director, School of Music 

"What makes Tony Elison a special student to me is his ability for synthesis. He can take inspiration from musical ideas, syntax, and traditions while filtering them through his own distinctive voice. I have been honored to help him achieve his goals and continue to expand his artistic horizons for the future."
- John Petrucelli
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, School of Music 

"Tony has the ideal demeanor for a working colleague--he is an amazing musician, always prepared, and a positive person to be around. He is already playing professionally in and around Utah."
- Donn Schaefer
Brass and Jazz Area Head & Professor of Trombone, School of Music 


Matthew Rudolph DoT

Name: Matthew Rudolph 
Majors and minors: Musical Theatre
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Passionate, Hard-working
Favorite CFA class or teacher: David Schmidt
Most memorable moment at CFA: Getting to perform with the cast of Bring it On! and represent the department of theatre at the opening of the Eccles theatre downtown.
One thing you learned at CFA: How incredible it is to be an artist. As artists, we have the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level and create change within them and in the world. We have the chance to entertain those around us and make people feel something.
What inspires you: Seeing the passion other CFA students put into their craft everyday and getting to work on something that I am so passionate about fuels me with excitement to work hard and give my everything.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: SAC Representative- President, Vice-President, class representative, FAF Grant Representative, Emerging Leadership intern, cast in 7 department of theatre musicals, member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
One sentence that describes your work: I am an artist and collaborator who is passionate about creating change and allowing people the opportunity to escape reality and be entertained.

"Matthew has proved to be an outstanding student and leader within the Department of Theatre. He serves as President for the department's Student Advisory Committee (SAC). He also serves as the student representative at the College Council meetings. Besides being an excellent representative for his fellow students and the department, he is a talented performer. He has been cast in a number of department productions including, Chess, Company, Dracula and Floyd Collins. On behalf of the department and myself, we wish him the best of luck." 
- Harris Smith
Chair, Department of Theatre

"Freshman Matt Rudolph peaked his head into a rehearsal of "BRING IT ON" in August of 2016 when I had just lost the entire Cheerleading squad who had agreed to do the show….I said, “Howdy, can you tumble?” He said “sure”  …..and that is the way it has been for the last 4 years….. Matt is forever willing to give anything asked of him his best shot. Always with a smile, Matt is one of a very few students who have been cast in just about every departmental show of his college career. BRAVO MATT!" 
-Denny Berry
Musical Theatre Program Head, Department of Theatre

"I am so happy that Matthew was chosen as the outstanding student for the Department of Theatre. I have had the privilege of being involved with Mathew from the time of his audition for the department until now at his graduation. I have been his Private Applied Voice teacher for the 4 years. Matthew has an incredible work ethic, a passion for his art and the talent to make it all work. He is also a generous leader amongst his peers. I am sure he will have a brilliant future. Break legs Matthew!!" 
-David Schmidt
Associate Professor, Department of Theatre


*Look out for our feature of Alicia Ross, Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher!  And please join us tomorrow when we will hear from our two student convocation speakers, Jacob Weitlauf and Sydney May, right here on the blog.* 

Published in Finer Points Blog

Seven students from the College of Fine Arts were recently selected as Spring 2020 scholars in the University of Utah's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

UROP gives undergraduate students and faculty mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. The program provides a stipend and educational programming for students who assist with a faculty member’s research or creative project or who carry out a project of their own under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may apply for UROP any semester and may be eligible for a one-semester renewal. UROP awardees are hired as temporary, part-time UROP Participants by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are paid $1,200 for 120 hours of research or creative work during the semester.

Here are CFA's Spring 2020 UROP scholars and a glimpse at what each of them are working on:

Bethany Dahlstrom, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Carol Sogard

Bethany is researching notable alumni that have graduated from the Graphic Design program at the University of Utah. She is in the process of designing a promotional Graphic Design Alumni book that teaches students in the program, future students and community members about the history and legacy of the Graphic Design Program, while also recognizing these notable alumni and the impacts they have made on the profession. She is also researching innovative ways to utilize Instagram as a design tool to share the content developed in the book.

Ethan Edwards, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Laurel Caryn

The title of Ethan’s UROP proposal is “Art’s Role in a Contemporary, Saturated Market, and a Question into the Validity of Societies Value of the Market”.  Ethan will be  questioning the validity of the gallery space as a place for art, by finding alternative spaces, trying not only to define art itself, but define its purpose and final destination.

Kaitlyn Redd, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty mentor: Justin Diggle

Katie is utilising Laser Engraver and CNC machines to explore new approaches to printmaking. She will initially be creating test images to explore the technical possibilities of the machinery before creating specific images. With the laser engraver for example, she will first screenprint multiple layers of alternating colour before engraving back into the print with particular imagery. The engraving of the image will reveal layers of colour.

Nicole Kallsen, School of Dance 

Faculty mentor: Kate Mattingly

Nicole's project is called "Seeking Common Ground: A case study of ballet's cultural values in Salt Lake City." She is researching perceptions of ballet in Salt Lake City by analyzing three organizations: Ballet West, Ballet West Academy, and the University of Utah Ballet Program. For each organization, Nicole will assess their social and financial support with special attention to the demographics of people who participate in the production and presentation of performances.

Jacob Young, School of Music

Faculty mentor: Jared Rawlings

Jacob is exploring peer group effects of relational victimization and empowerment among high school instrumental music students. He utilized social network analysis and found that participation in a school-based marching band significantly impacts feelings of empowerment reducing self-reported relational victimization, even after controlling for gender, caring behaviors, and positive attitudes toward bullying.

Kimberly Brown, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Rob Scott Smith

In Kimberly's own words: "I am on a quest to create a piece of theatre that examines and exposes our society's relationship with mental health, more specifically to personal identities in our youth in relation to the older generations and the world around us. I want to study mental health, gender, and social issues through the lenses of famous literary figures from Shakespeare’s works. This play will use iconic characters and humorous circumstances to expose and explore deeper issues that some might not be able to do with research papers, classes, and studies."

Courtney Cohen, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Andra Harbold  

Courtney is conducting interviews and pursuing qualitative research into three thematic threads of "Spitfire Grill:" towns with economies whose primary livelihoods are failing, Vietnam veterans returning home after the war, and sexual assault survivors.

Click here for more information on upcoming UROP applications! The next deadline is Friday, March 20th for students interested in working during Summer 2020. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

This month, the studios of the Marriott Center for Dance will be full of young dancers honing their craft at the Ballet Summer Intensive. Utah Ballet Summer Intensive, or UBSI, is a month-long training program geared toward ballet dancers aged 15 – 23. From 6/17 – 7/12 dancers will have a chance to learn from master teachers and will gain insight into what life is like as a ballet major at the University of Utah.

This year, UBSI welcomes an incredibly diverse and experienced group of guest teachers, including directors of companies and dance professors from esteemed dance programs across the country.

 “We want to expose students who take the program not only to potential work opportunities and the real-world level of training they will be required to have in this business, but also to some of the best teachers out there,” said UBSI Director Maggie Wright Tesch.

UBSI’s guest artist list includes:  
Susan Jaffe Former Principal with ABT, Dean of Dance, UNCSA
Lauren Anderson Former Principal with Houston Ballet
Kevin Thomas Artistic Director, the Collage Dance Collective
Katherin Baum-Hofer State Ballet School Berlin
Tamara King Principal of the Boston Ballet School, Newton Campus
Elizabeth Johnson Assistant Professor, University of Florida
Nick Mullikin Associate Artistic Director of Nashville Ballet
Anthony Krutzkamp Executive Director, Sacramento Ballet
Sara Webb Former Principal with Houston Ballet
Natalie Desch Dancer, teacher, choreographer

Along with University of Utah Faculty:
Maggie Wright Tesch Associate Professor Lecturer
Rob Wood Professor Lecturer
Justine Sheedy-Kramer Adjunct Assistant Professor
Luc Vanier Director, The School of Dance
Rosie Banchero Adjunct Assistant Professor
Christine Moore Adjunct Instructor
Pablo Piantino Assistant Professor
Jennie Creer King Adjunct Professor

The four-week intensive is designed to give students a taste of the curriculum offered by a University level Ballet Program, and to show what makes the U’s program unique. It is a great way to see if the U’s program is the right fit for training after high school.“The biggest difference between our summer program and others is the amount of time spent in the area of creative research, which in our field is considered choreography” explains Tesch. “We bring in instructors who are experienced teachers of choreography and they spend time teaching the craft. The students aren't just choreographed on, as in most summer intensives, which has its value, and we do that as well, but we teach them the craft. That element of our profession is grossly overlooked in student's training below the university level.”

The summer intensive is meant to be rigorous, and to push dancers to learn and grow. Tesch explains that participants should come ready to dance, be prepared to be faced with a lot of new information and experiences in a short period of time. “Dancing in a university setting is just as challenging as any other pre-professional training program, but here, they will be working towards a degree. I hope they leave with a taste of how challenging our program is and how much they will learn and experience here, from classical work to contemporary, technique in both ballet as well as modern, African and jazz. We try to show what creating movement is. Not something to be afraid of, but another form of expression they should perhaps explore. Most young students are only ever told how to dance, or what steps to do and how.... We want them leaving with a small taste of how to find their own voice in dance through choreographic exploration and critical thinking skills.”

Published in Finer Points Blog

Ten Modern Dance Program seniors will present the first weekend of their Senior Concert show, Xx, a show that highlights variability, exponential growth, and the undefined. Each evening of dance will culminate in a performance of guest choreographer Lauren Edson’s new work created with the senior class.

Xx represents the 2019 graduating class of Modern Dance Program seniors, a group of twenty rising women artists—all with two x-chromosomes. Beyond the aptness in its description of the graduating class, Xx also embodies the spirit of Senior Concert; involving change, power, and development. Xx celebrates the artistic, choreographic and technical prowess the senior class has cultivated during their time at the University of Utah.

Natalie Anderton’s piece begins with movement taken from traditional hip hop and other street styles. The piece has transformed into a style of movement she has never experienced before and Anderton is excited to see how her dancers take on this “alien” inspired piece.

Alli Ball investigates the paradox of emotion throughout daily life. She asks how we are able to feel two contrasting emotions simultaneously.

Jessica Baynes presents a lively, contemporary quartet inspired by the mechanics of trains and explores the following actions: attack, respond, and follow-through. It is performed to a Flamenco-inspired sound score and experiments with risk, athleticism and contact.

Elissa Collins explores how mental health affects the way that we physically respond to our world.

Kaelin Kaczka pays homage to the #MeToo Movement, drawing inspiration from the Sirens of Greek mythology and using movement to kinesthetically narrate the personal experiences of so many.

Ali Lorenz research involves the similarities between our world’s natural phenomena and our own emotions, working with concepts that work deep within the earth and as well as within ourselves.

Madaline Maravillas’s piece has become an intimate look into how we view certain people in our lives and the visceral responses conjured by those people: people you miss, people you need and people you love.

Aileen Norris focuses on joy in absurdity, conflict in connection and resolution in chaos.

Ruby Pfeiffer explores self-empowerment and how we are all fighting to find who we are while at the same time using people around us as a gauge. There is uniqueness in all of us, not just as a lone being but also within a community.

Eliza Zenger’s piece brings three words to mind: individuality, bounce and flow. She is interested in the dancers’ pathways, individually and collectively, and how that frames space.

This evening of new dance ends with a performance by the senior class in a work choreographed by Boise-based Lauren Edson. The work explores themes of hope, desperation, and community.

When: 2/28 at 5:30P, 3/1 at 5:30P and 3/2 at 7:30P
Where: The Marriott Center for Dance.
Tickets: Senior Concert I: Xx is free to University of Utah students through Arts Pass. General admission tickets are $12. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

The University of Utah Ballet Program proudly presents La Fille Mal Gardée, a full-length comedic ballet gracing the Marriott Center for Dance Stage. Based on a 1789 French ballet the School of Dance will present a new interpretation by Bruce Marks, with staging by Mercyhurst University Professors Tauna Hunter and Michael Gleason. This dynamic adaptation breathes new life into the classic story.

La Fille Mal Gardée or the “Poorly Guarded Girl,” will transport audiences to an idyllic pastoral countryside where a love triangle creates comic chaos. In this romantic comedy, Lise, the only daughter of the overbearing Mother Simone, attempts to free herself from a marriage with her uninterested fiancé, in order to be with her true love Colas. The engaging and lighthearted storyline is propelled by the mischievous antics of the cast as they hilariously navigate the ballet’s three acts. This up-beat production features a lively succession of scenes of gossiping villagers, maypoles, and hay wagons, all paired with Marks’ intricate and challenging choreography.

“It’s been an amazing experience to have Bruce Marks here working with our students. He is warm and generous, and giving, of his time and his knowledge,” said ballet Program Head Melissa Bobick. “The students have really grown in their confidence, having the opportunity to work with him.”

Bruce Marks received his performing arts training at the New York High School of Performing Arts, Brandeis University and The Juilliard School. In 1956 he joined the corps de ballet of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and in 1958 became premier danseur. Marks joined American Ballet Theatre in 1961, soon being promoted to principal dancer. In 1971 he became the first American principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet where he remained for five years. By 1976 Marks became Co-Artistic Director of Ballet West at the invitation of its founder Willam Christensen and in 1978 became the prestigious company’s Artistic Director. In 1985 Bruce Marks assumed the position of artistic director of Boston Ballet, a position he held until 1997. A founding member of Dance/USA, Marks was chosen in 1989 to replace the late Robert Joffrey as chairman of the International Jury of the USA International Ballet Competition, a position he still holds. He has created of thirty original ballets over the course of his career. He has coached and staged ballets for companies like the American Ballet Theatre, Royal Danish Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, and many others.Join the School of Dance for La Fille Mal Gardée, February 2/7 – 2/16 at the Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah. Tickets are available online, by phone at 801.581.7100 and at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. For more information please visit here.

Published in Finer Points Blog

Eight ballet dancers from the School of Dance and Associate Professor-Lecturer Vedrana Subotic from The School of Music will fly to the city that never sleeps to make their New York City debuts at New York Live Arts, one of the City’s premier dance venues, February 19 - 25. The dancers will perform as part of BalletNext, a small troupe of internationally renowned ballet dancers created seven years ago by former American Ballet principal Michele Wiles. School of Music's Vedrana Subotic will be performing solo works by Haydn and Bach which Wiles has created original choreography to accompany. 

“Our dancers are trained for professional careers in ballet,” said Luc Vanier, who has headed the School of Dance since 2016. “This semester’s partnership with BalletNext, a company of stellar performers, has presented our students with a series unprecedented experiences, challenges and opportunities, both inside and outside the studio. Over the past semester they have worked with Michele Wiles, a world class ballerina, on new works which they will perform in New York before some of the world’s most discerning audiences and demanding critics.”

Selected by Wiles, who has been guest teaching at U’s School of Dance this past semester, the selected Utah performers will be seen in two New York premieres by Wiles: “Hey Wait” and “Birds of a Feather.”

“Hey, Wait,” featuring all eight of the rigorously-trained Utah students, is set to “Vibrer” by master jazz trumpeter Tom Harrell, who performs it live with Luis Pedromo on piano. Embodying the spirit of its ever-changing jazz score, the ballet slyly shifts from duets to octets to trio to solos to quartets. “Hey, Wait” marks Wiles third collaboration with Harrell.

“Birds of a Feather,” created by Wiles in Salt Lake this fall, is set to a series of Haydn’s last piano sonatas, to be played at NYLA by the U’s Dr. Vedrana Subotic. Mauro Bigonzetti’s “La Follia,” a duet commissioned and premiered by BalletNext in 2011, will be danced at NYLA by Wiles and Danielle Dreis, a senior in the ballet division.

In addition to Dreis, the Utah dancers include seniors Tia Sandman, Sydney May, Amy McMaster, Sarah Murphy, and sophomores Emma Anjali, Juliana Godlewski and Lauren Wattenburg,

“It was an exciting revelation to work with such a crop of exquisitely trained, talented and versatile young performers,” said Wiles. “Their willingness to work hard, their focus and their commitment is nothing short of top dollar professional. The ballets they are performing are technically and musically challenging, and these dancers are up to it.”

Additional season highlights feature guest appearances by internationally celebrated dancers New York City Ballet principal Maria Kowroski and former New York City Ballet principal Amar Ramasar in “Bachground” by Mauro Bagonzetti. Originally choreographed for and premiered by BalletNext in 2012, the duet is set to Bach’s Solo Piano, which will be performed by pianist Dr. Vedrana Subotic.

At BalletNext, the search for innovation trumps convention. In 2011, Michele Wiles, one of New York's most acclaimed dancers, founded the company with the vision to provide a platform for leading dancers, choreographers, and musicians. As a result, new work is produced and performed in an environment that promotes experimentation, creative problem solving, and a focus on process. 

The School of Dance at the University of Utah, founded by William Christensen in 1952, was the first Ballet Department in an American university. Christensen, who founded the San Francisco Ballet with his brother Lew, applied same rigorous demands to the training of the Utah students as he did to the professional dancers at the SFB. Committed to fostering future generations of artists in technical, educational and scholarly excellence, the school’s curriculum ensures a well-rounded liberal arts education. Its dancers have graduated into top-ranking ballet companies world-wide and are heading dance departments at prestigious colleges and universities. The School of Dance includes a Modern Dance Program, which adheres to the same values as its Ballet Program. The New York Live Arts performances mark the re-establishment of the School of Dance’s connection to New York City, and exposure to discerning audiences and critics in a city known as the dance capital of the world.

New York Live Arts is a center of diverse artists devoted to body-based investigation that transcends barriers between and within communities led by world-renowned artist Bill T. Jones. We are a place that brings people together to explore common values through live gathering and performance reminding us of our humanity and elevating the human spirit. https://newyorklivearts.org


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The School of Dance will present five new choreographic works this November at Performing Dance Company (PDC). PDC offers its audience a professional-level performance by students in the Modern Dance Program. The concert opens 11/1 and will showcase choreography from faculty and guest artists, focusing on the creation of new works. This year, PDC will feature the original choreography of faculty members Molly Heller, Sara Pickett, Luc Vanier, and Daniel Clifton. The School of Dance also welcomes guest choreographers Lauren Simpson and Jenny Stulberg of Simpson/Stulberg Collaborations, who will collaborate on a piece for the PDC stage.

Assistant Professor Molly Heller will present a new work entitled Heartland: Studies of the Heart, which “explores the idioms, sensations, associations, and physical spaces of the heart.” Structured as three overlapping solos, Heller creates a dense terrain where the heart is magnified, exposed, moved, and experienced as always being whole.

School of Dance Director Luc Vanier will also set his work, Deflating Debussy on the PDC dancers. “Deflating Debussy merges the more romantic part of my soul with my drive to deconstruct the use of épaulement (shouldering) in Ballet technique,” explains Vanier. “Broadly misunderstood as aesthetic decoration, the sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle oppositions of the head, shoulders and pelvis facilitate turnout, balance, and control. Once more intimately understood, épaulement reveals a three-dimensional awareness of the oppositional pulls in the body that though ‘antagonistic,’ allow for increased freedom and choice in movement.”

In Assistant Professor Lecturer Daniel Clifton’s new creation for PDC, he explores dreams as a starting point to generate material. “If dreams are a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person's mind during sleep are they are a reflection of ourselves, or a window into our subconscious and a way of working through the details of our lives?”

Astriction, a new work from School of Dance Assistant Professor Sara Pickett, plays with the dichotomy of multiple layers of reality and embraces the contradictions that may lie within that experience. The choreography “uses notions of memory, tension, and confusion to build a world that represents someone working to grasp authenticity even when it exists in the tenuous place where wants and reality collide,” says Pickett

The School of Dance is pleased to welcome Lauren Simpson and Jenny Stulberg for a residency with the PDC dancers. Simpson/Stulberg Collaborations is a Bay Area based dance company making dances and dance films. Their ongoing project, Still Life Dances, is a series of detailed and intimate movement studies based on still life paintings. The duo’s piece for PDC was inspired by Flemish artist Francois Ykens’ “Flower Still Life” from 1644 (UMFA collection), this dance references to the beginnings of ballet, harpsichord music, and visual art of the era. “Through our own personalities, aesthetic inclinations, and contemporary dance bodies, we pay homage to the detail and precision valued in all art disciplines from the 17th century.”

 Join us for a concert by the Performing Dance Company, 11/1 – 11/10 at the Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah. Tickets are available online, by phone at 801.581.7100 or at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. For more information please visit here.


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The School of Dance will host the Utah Ballet Summer Intensive (UBSI), which includes 4 weeks of training aimed at sharpening dancer’s skills while immersing participants in a six day a week program featuring classes offered by nationally and internationally renowned instructors. From June 18 to July 13, dancers will have a chance to learn from master teachers as well as U of U faculty and will gain insight into what life is like as a ballet major at the University of Utah. The dancers have been recruited on a national level, and range in age between 15 and 23. Participants include some first-year University of Utah Ballet majors, who typically participate in the intensive either the summer before or after their freshman year.

The intensive’s guest teachers range in background from professors at other universities to directors of companies. Maggie Wright Tesch, a School of Dance Ballet program Faculty member and organizer of UBSI, gives insight into the guest artists coming this year: 

“We want to expose students who take the program not only to potential work opportunities and the real-world level of training they will be required to have in this business, but also to some of the best teachers out there. And no, they are not of one training style and that is on purpose...dancers have to be able to adapt in order to work, so we strive to challenge dancers to move between teacher's styles with ease...eventually!”

UBSI’s guest artist list includes Susan Jaffe, Victoria Morgan, Lauren Anderson, Kevin Thomas, Katherin Baum-Hofer, Tamara King, Elizabeth Johnson, Jerry Opdenaker, and Anthony Krutzkamp, as well as School of Dance Faculty Members Maggie Wright Tesch, Rob Wood, Justine Sheedy-Kramer, Luc Vanier, Rosie Banchero, and Christine Moore. Small class sizes insure personal attention from instructors for each UBSI participant.

The four-week intensive is designed to give students a taste of the curriculum offered by a University level Ballet Program, and to show what makes the U’s program unique. It is a great way to see if the U’s program is the right fit for training after high school.
“The biggest difference between our summer program and others is the amount of time spent in the area of creative research, which in our field is considered choreography” explains Tesch. “We bring in instructors who are experienced teachers of choreography and they spend time teaching the craft. The students aren't just choreographed on, as in most summer intensives, which has its value, and we do that as well, but we teach them the craft. That element of our profession is grossly overlooked in student's training below the university level.”

The summer intensive is meant to be rigorous, and to push dancers to learn and grow. Tesch explains that participants should come ready to dance, be prepared to be faced with a lot of new information and experiences in a short period of time. “Dancing in a university setting is just as challenging as any other pre-professional training program, but here, they will be working towards a degree. I hope they leave with a taste of how challenging our program is and how much they will learn and experience here, from classical work to contemporary, technique in both ballet as well as modern, African and jazz. We try to show what creating movement is. Not something to be afraid of, but another form of expression they should perhaps explore. Most young students are only ever told how to dance, or what steps to do and how.... We want them leaving with a small taste of how to find their own voice in dance through choreographic exploration and critical thinking skills.”


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By Molly Powers
Salt Dance Fest brings internationally renowned dance artists to the U’s campus for 2 weeks of dance-making and a spirited exchange of ideas. This year’s guests include internationally renowned dance artists and dance makers Wally CardonaOmar CarrumKatie Faulkner, Eric HandmanScotty Hardwig, and Pablo Piantino. These artists in residence will share their unique artistic perspectives, along with a range and diversity of aesthetics and approaches to dance with the SDF participants.

Unique among dance festivals in the western United States, Salt Dance Fest is committed to the exploration of the creative process in addition to contemporary technique and repertory work. With participants from around the country and the world, the workshop highlights and investigates the creative process. It is designed to be a laboratory that nurtures and supports experimentation, exploration, curiosity, collaboration and the development of innovative choreography, artistry and thought.

Participants work intimately with acclaimed artists, developing and exploring ideas in dance and choreography. Now in its eighth year, past artists at Salt Dance Fest have included artists such as Eiko & Koma, Chris Aiken, Angie Hauser, Teri and Oliver Steele, Marina Mascarell, Paul Selwyn Norton, Vickie Cortes, Kyle Abraham, Maura Keefe, Miguel Gutierrez, Netta Yerushalmy, Faye Driscoll, Zoe Scofield, Juniper Shuey, Pavel Zuštiak, Paul Matteson, Sara Shelton Mann, Jeanine Durning, Alex Ketley, Jennifer Nugent, Daniel Charon, Jesse Zaritt, Shinichi & Dana Iova Koga, Joanna Kotze, Katie Scherman and Idan Shirabi. The workshop is housed at the School of Dance, a hub of dance pedagogy, performance and choreographic creation for the American West.

Salt Dance Fest participants select from three blocks of daily classes, engaging with the artists in: Contemporary Technique, Improvisational Practices, Performance Research, Composition/Choreography, Creative Process, Repertory, Partnering, Interactive Media and Site Specific Work (see Class Descriptions). The Salt Dance Fest 2018 class schedule operates on a block system – participants may sign up for up to three blocks of classes. Specific class requests, identified on the application form, are on a first-come first-served basis (further class information follows). The workshop/festival additionally includes a free morning somatic practice as an introduction to the day, lectures and panel discussions with the guest artists, an improvisation jam and social events, as well as opportunities to present work in showings and concerts. Drop-classes are available, as well as free public events including artist’s talks, panel discussions, and an open forum.

This year, Salt Dance Fest runs from June 4-15. Participants must be 18 or older and are expected to dance at an intermediate or advanced level. For more information about enrollment, the courses offered, and the guest artists, visit saltdancefest.com

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