Last week I had the privilege of attending a preview of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s “Prism.” At the event I saw a short preview of “But Seriously…” a work that is still in progress. It’s really a unique and fun experience to see a work that is still coming together, especially when it’s a collaborative piece with an architect, a stand-up comedian and a choreographer. A work like this is particularly challenging for the dancers who are used to taking their cues from music, rather than spoken prose, especially something like stand-up comedy. The combination creates a really fresh and new approach to modern dance.

“In Prism, we will present a new piece, that investigates the state of mind of the Stand-up Comedian through the format of contemporary dance," says Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Ririe Woodbury artistic director.

The work is a collaboration between architect Nathan Webster, actor Ethan Phillips, writer David Kranes, video editor Hoda Peterson, the Ririe Woodbury dancers dancers and Boye-Christensen as the choreographer.

"The title of this work has proven to be one of the most thrilling challenges of my creative life, as I am not typically funny on stage but have managed to find a deeper understanding of myself as an artist through this process," Boye-Christensen says. "This work is at times humorous, edgy, moving, strange and poetic, and I think that we have broken new grounds with this piece and made the impossible possible."

Collaborations always present unique challenges, but they also result in a truly different experience for the audience. This work contains humor, playfulness and athleticism. It’s quite brilliant and I cannot wait to see the finished work.

Click the below video to watch a short interview with Brad Beakes and Alexandra Bradshaw, two of Ririe-Woodbury’s newest dancers.

"Prism" will be performed Dec. 8-10 at 7:30pm, with a matinee on Saturday, in the Black Box Theatre at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.


Jennifer Hickman is an advisory board member for Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Studio D,  and Vivace and is an arts contributor to Salt Lake magazine.