Jennifer Streiff Hickman is on the advisory board for Ririe Woodbury Dance Company. This is her recap of last week's Meet The Choreographer Rehearsal.

I am really excited to tell Salt Lake magazine readers about Ririe-Woodbury's Iridescence, but before I do that, I just want to say thank you to everyone in our community that supports the arts. We have so many wonderful performing and visual arts organizations here in SLC, and without the continued dedication and support from the community, they would not exist. Thank you to everyone who buys tickets, attends shows and exhibits and donates time and/or money... you are helping to create this wonderfully-artistic community that I am lucky enough to call home.

Now... on to Iridescence.

I have written a few posts about seeing works from back stage, or while they are being created, but with this one I got to see even more of the creative process and I cannot wait for you all to see the end result. I was at the Rose Wagner last week and stuck my head into the rehearsal where the Ririe-Woodbury dancers and Choreographer Keith Johnson were working on one of the dances for the show, "Secret Dark World." What a treat. Keith Johnson is friendly, approachable, and of course talented.

Keith approached this project with the goal of really having fun and you can definitely see that in the results... from the rehearsals filled with laughter to the even higher level of camaraderie and trust built between the dancers that is evident in his piece.

Here is what Keith had to say about it:



During the rehearsal I got to see the piece still being created in many ways, which is really a wonderful process to witness. Keith started on the piece before coming to Salt Lake to work with the company, of course, but much of it came together and evolved as these artists have worked together to create something truly brilliant and poignant.

Last week, Ririe-Woodbury held a Meet the Choreographer event, designed to preview the piece and allow the audience to discuss the work with the choreographer and the dancers. I always love these events, but this one was extra fun for me as I got to see the progress they had made with the work from the rehearsal the week before. As I witnessed the reaction from the audience, I am even more excited for everyone to see this show. As one of my guests at the event last night put it, "Secret Dark World is a nostalgic trip through everyone's childhood." Audience members will see something from their own lives in this piece, whether it be the feeling of being excluded or different, being bullied, doing the bullying or even just the moody whims of childhood.

Ririe-Woodbury dancer, Tara McArthur described the piece as being about "finding the child within," and I think the dancers each had to do just that as they prepared and rehearsed this work.

Here is what dancer, Betsy Kelley Wilberg had to say about the piece...



As Betsy and I discussed in the video, Keith challenged the dancers to bring their own experiences into their performance, and in the preview last night, I could see that they had each done just that. You could see true, sincere, genuine emotion in their movements, in their faces.

It was a wonderful thing to witness and experience. This work brought back many emotions and experiences that were long buried for each of these dancers, and the choreographer as well. Keith explained that he feels this is his most personal work of his career and the dancers exhibit an amazing level of trust with each other during this piece. I feel honored to have witnessed the creation of "Secret Dark World" and cannot wait for you to see it.

Ririe-Woodbury presents Iridescence April 26–28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. The line up: World premiere of "Secret Dark World" by California State University, Long Beach professor and Ririe-Woodbury alumnus, Keith Johnson. Artistic Director Charlotte Boye-Christensen will also premiere two new works, "East" as well as the completed "West." Audience favorite "It's Gonna Get Loud" by Tony Award-winning choreographer Karole Armitage, and the stunning"Duet" by Tony-winner Bill T. Jones will round out the eclectic performance.

April 26–28 at 7:30 pm
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Click here to order tickets or call 801-355-ARTS
Studio D after pary at The New Yorker on Sat April 28 for details click here

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