Utah Dance: A Preview of Fall 2023

One of the most readily made arguments in Utah is the economic one. The pandemic took its toll, of course, but the industry began to recover in 2021. The Utah arts and culture sector represented an $8.1 billion industry in 2021, 3.6% of the state’s GDP and 65,696 jobs (according to Americans For the Arts Action Fund). But the arts in Utah represent more than just the economic contributions. A report by the Utah Culture Alliance (UCA) shows the arts are in Utah’s DNA. We attend more live cultural events and create more art than any other state. And art improves lives. There are benefits to experiencing a multitude of perspectives through participation in the arts. Performing arts, at their core, are ways to tell our stories. Sharing our stories allows us to connect and be understood and, in turn, understand others.

We could all probably use a little more understanding, connection and empathy in our lives. Plus, it’s fun! Get out there, take in a concert and enjoy a dance performance Utah!

Ballet West

Venues: Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre— Salt Lake City
Ballets: Dracula, Firebird and The Nutcracker
Tickets: balletwest.org

Ballet West is kicking off its 60th season with a ballet that is becoming a Utah favorite. Dracula (Oct. 20–28), with a musical score by Franz Liszt, is mysterious, spooky and dramatic, and—oh yeah—it features flying vampires and pyrotechnics. Ballet West follows that with magic, creativity and bombastic pomp. The program includes Firebird (Nov. 3–11), an original piece choreographed by Ballet West’s founder Willam Christensen and set to the sweeping score by Igor Stravinsky, along with a ballet set to John Philip Souza’s Stars & Stripes and the world premiere of Fever Dream, a dream-like ballet by long-term company artist Joshua Whitehead.

Utah dance
Ballet West is home to America’s first and longest-running version of The Nutcracker (Dec. 8–27), produced by its founder Willam. Photo courtesy Ballet West

Repertory Dance Theatre

Venues: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center—Salt Lake City
Concerts: I AM and VENTURE
Tickets: rdtutah.org

Celebrating 58 years of revolutionary modern dance, Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) presents a season with the theme of “community.” This season, RDT acknowledges diverse voices and applauds the common attributes humanity shares while respecting our differences. RDT’s season concerts at the Rose Wagner begin with I AM (Oct. 5-7) by local choreographer Natosha Washington. The premiere of a new 75-minute evening of dance expands upon Washington’s work in Say Their Names, part I (2018), which explores racial divides and human connectivity. Washington’s new iteration promises to deliver an evening of personal storytelling and inspiration through the interplay of her choreography, RDT dancers and guest performers from the Salt Lake community.

Utah dance
Repertory Dance Theatre. Photo credit Sharon Kain

VENTURE (Nov. 16–18) is the result of RDT’s commissioning three artists who were part of its past REGALIA choreographic competition events: Rachel Barker (Regalia 2020 competitor), Shane Urton (Regalia 2022 competitor) and Ruger Memmott (Regalia 2023 winner). Additional premieres include a new work by internationally acclaimed Katarzyna Skarpetowska. Special guest performers from RDT’s Prime Performance Workshop will present choreography developed by Meghan Durham Wall, who explores movement and the aging body.

Utah dance
Ririe Woodbury Dance Company Nikolais’ Liturgies and Tensile Involvement. Photo credit Fred Hayes

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company

Venues: The Jeanne Wagner Theater at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center— Salt Lake City
Performances: Groundworks
Season Tickets: ririewoodbury.com 
Individual Tickets: saltlakecountyarts.org 

Groundworks (Sept. 21-23) launches the Company’s 60th Anniversary performing season. The special performance celebrates the Company’s co-founders, Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury, in a retrospective tribute. The program also celebrates Alwin Nikolais, whose groundbreaking choreography played a pivotal role in the formation of Ririe-Woodbury. Guest dancers from BYU’s dance department will join the Company dancers for Nikolais’ Liturgies and Tensile Involvement. Additionally, Artistic Director Daniel Charon will restage his elegant, On Being (2021), which highlights the beauty of the Company dancers. The performances boast dynamic visuals that explore multimedia dances created over many eras of dance-making.  

We have even more fall arts previews for the Utah Opera and Symphony, here!

Christie Porter
Christie Porterhttps://christieporter.com/
Christie Porter is the managing editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade, writing about everything under the sun, but she really loves writing about nerdy things and the weird stuff. She recently published her first comic book short this year.

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