Displaying items by tag: Marriott Center for Dance

This semester, the School of Dance hosted guest artists Omar Carrum and Charles Anderson, whose work will be shown this week in Performing Dance Company’s fall concert, opening this Thursday in the Marriott Center for Dance. In brief but powerful residencies on campus, these artists left more than just polished works behind. The philosophies and experiences they shared with dancers continue to have lingering impact beyond the stage and studio. 

Hailing from Mexico City, choreographer Omar Carrum collaborated with the students to create “Alchemy of the 7 Elements,” an elegant journey through the dancers’ memories and beliefs. “I've been researching how to use our deepest emotions without them disturbing or hurting us while accessing them -- to be able to go in and out, using just a drop of sincerity in the process,” Carrum said. “I think of movement as reactions of what’s happening inside.” Carrum1Omar Carrum partners with School of Dance student

While in the studio, Carrum worked with “the development of fictional characters based on real experiences from our past histories, and how those histories interweave with the histories of others.” He asserted, “I truly believe that artists are alchemists that can change any ‘lead’ experience into a ‘gold’ metaphor.”

“So many dance teachers say ‘leave your baggage at the door’ but Omar explicitly asked us to share our baggage with him and each other. Omar helped us develop individual characters by combining different versions of ourselves,” dancer Arin Lynn said. “Personally, I am learning a lot about what identity means to me. By researching these types of questions, we become more alive inside of performance.”  

Lynn also found Carrum’s “drop of sincerity” a useful tool in making performance honest but not overbearing. “This idea has affected all of our dancing and I believe it will take me a long time to fully understand that concept,” Lynn said. “However, the drop of sincerity awakened a psycho-physical awareness which has changed my relationship with my own dancing for the better.” 

Choreographer Charles Anderson worked with 15 dancers, including both ballet and modern majors, to reconstruct an excerpted version of "(Re)current Unrest," an evening length immersive performance ‘ritual’ built upon the sonic foundation of Steve Reich’s three earliest works. The larger project began as an investigation of legacy, authorship and citizenship and protest through the lens of the erasure of the Africanist presence inside of Reich’s compositions. The excerpted version, “(Re)current Unrest: We Are The People” is a meditation on the increase in racially motivated violence and what it means to be an American. 

Anderson wrote, “I am a Richmond, VA born and raised, Black, gay, first-generation, ivy league college educated artist-educator-activist.  As a choreographer I am formally trained as a post-modernist.  As an African American artist committed to dance for social justice, I am a kinetic storyteller.  I approach choreography and dance theatre as metaphor for kinetic storytelling or testimony.  I create dance-theatre that is informed and inflected by contemporary expressions of African Diasporic vernacular dance.”

Graduate teaching assistant Alexandra Barbier assisted Anderson in the rehearsal process. For Barbier, Anderson’s work extended far past technique and “steps.” “Parts of the choreography are pretty complicated, but I believe that one of Charles's main goals in setting this work was to build community and to expose us to the unquestioned, sometimes problematic, ideologies within our culture that shape how we learn and perform as dancers,” she said. 

When it comes to social activism, the final performance product is not the only place of impact. Barbier continued, “Charles led conversations about race, class, gender, the systems that perpetuate oppression and the questions we should ask ourselves in order to dismantle these systems. I have no doubt that the cast will continue to grapple with these ideas outside of the time spent in the studio... and that is the activism. The audience may not engage with these concepts beyond the 12 minutes they spend viewing the final product, but the knowledge gained in the process will (hopefully) live on and be disseminated by the dancers as they interact with the world.”

Don’t miss the chance to see Performing Dance Company Oct. 3-5 and 17-19. For more information visit dance.utah.edu. 

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

By Molly Powers

On Nov. 2-11, the School of Dance will present the Fall Utah Ballet Performance at the Marriott Center for Dance, showcasing a wide variety of styles, from classic favorites to works created in 2017. The performance will feature original choreography from School of Dance faculty member Melissa Bobick, School of Dance Director Luc Vanier, and guest artist Roderick George, along with a performance of August Bournonville’s classic “Konservatoriet,” staged by Jeff Rogers.

In her work “135,” Bobick explores a raw and visceral quality of movement inspired by the emotions present in life’s most chaotic and unexpected moments. Caught in this unfamiliar place, between the past and the future, the dance holds onto a turbulent present that can only be eased by the fleeting glimmer of hope.

Vanier will present his original piece, “Women if Possible.” He describes his process for the piece here:
 “’Women if Possible’ was first created in 1991 in honor of Judy Shoaff-Reading, who was my one of my long-time dance partners at Ohio Ballet,” says Vanier. “My original wish was to push the dancers to use their pointe shoes in novel ways. I later redid the work in 2006 as a duet and again in 2007 for six students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where the work became about empowerment as I encouraged dancers to transition from the mind of a student who is always looking to please and do things ‘right,’ to the approach of an artist who ‘owns’ the work.”

The program also features an original work by guest choreographer Roderick George, entitled “F.E.M. Queen.” George compares the movement of the dancers in this piece to the movement of a “pack of wolves.”  “F.E.M. Queen” focuses on the ideal of “the feminist” and how that ideal is interpreted by the performers. The title of the work draws inspiration from the game of chess and the capabilities of the chess pieces. “I wanted to think about empowering the women and how to instill these thoughts in the choreography” says George “In chess, the Queen is able to do all the moves that each piece on the chess board can do and is the most deadly.”

The concert will also include the classic masterwork, “Konservatoriet,” staged by Ballet West’s Jeff Rogers. “Konservatoriet” is a two-act vaudeville ballet created by the Danish choreographer and ballet master August Bournonville in 1849 for the Royal Danish Ballet. Set in a dance studio at the Conservatoire de Paris, the first act is a recreation of a Vestris dance class of the exact type attended by Bournonville during his Paris sojourn in the 1820s. In the second act, Monsieur Dufour, an inspecteur at the Conservatoire, writes a matrimonial advertisement in the newspaper but ends up marrying his housekeeper, Mademoiselle Bonjour. Typical of Bournonville’s ballets, the plot provides opportunities for introducing different dance divertissements. In the second act, for example, the pupils of the Conservatoire make a fool of Monsieur Dufour by disguising themselves as attractive women.

Tickets are available online, by phone at 801.581.7100 or at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. For more information please visit Dance.utah.edu.

Published in Finer Points Blog