Dancers to lead audiences on an emotional journey
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Artistic Director Daniel Charon wants to take Park City audiences on a journey.
To do this, he has programmed an evening of works, which will be performed Nov. 10-12 at the Egyptian Theatre, that showcase different aspects of his dancers. The program will open with an excerpt of his own work, “Shift,” and then move into Tzveta Kassabova’s “The Opposite of Killing.”After intermission, the program will kick off with and excerpt of Kate Weare’s “Unstruck” and close with Charon’s “Exilic Dances.”
“Part of the reason we are dancing two pieces in their entirety and two excerpts is a programmatic reason,” Charon told The Park Record. “The Egyptian Theatre offers a really great venue and I want to offer a good cross-section and variety of what we do. I like to give people and opportunity to experience different things without making the performance too long.”
The opening number, which was choreographed in 2015, is a celebration of movement.
“It almost has a party flavor to it, and it’s a very accessible piece,” Charon said. “It’s about eight minutes and is a nice way for the audience to enter into the world and space of contemporary dance. People don’t have to try too hard to conceptually understand it.”
“The Opposite of Killing,” a 2011 work that was acquired by the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company last year, is a little more weighty, Charon said.
“The beauty of this work is the journey that takes you from beginning to the end,” he explained. “It has to do a little with processing loss. And while it takes on a much more serious tone than ‘Shift,’ it also leaves the audience with a sense of hope. It’s very poetic and moving.”
Charon said the emotional context of Kassabova’s works is found in how she uses the theatricality of the space and the theatricality of the dancers.
“That’s what makes her such an amazing choreographer,” he said. “She is an astrophysicist, and has a way of creating a deep experience for the audience.”
Charon hopes the audience will use the intermission to process the first half of the performance, because the other two works will continue where the other two left off.
“Unstruck” is a work that I feel is distilled,” he said. “There are only three people who perform in it, and it’s much more abstract.”
Weare choreographed “Unstruck” in 2015, and offered it to Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company last year.
“The partnering is intense and vital, and there’s something immediate and contemporary about the work,” Charon said. “The full work is 20 minutes, so we are doing an excerpt, and the audience will have an opportunity to create their own meaning while observing the dance.”
Weare and Charon’s styles are vastly different. While Charon’s pieces tend to be more playful and feature patterns in the footwork, Weares’ are more sensual.
“This is a very valuable thing to me, especially because I’m finding that a variety of voices is important for patrons and audiences who see our work,” Charon said. “I feel like she uses more movement invention than I do. That has to do a lot with the partnering and the way the bodies interact within the space.”
“Unstruck” is all about connection and audiences can see dancers physically connecting and relying on each other throughout the work.
“The beautiful thing is the dancers are connected even when they far away from each other in the space,” Charon said. “The way Kate shapes the space and choreographs the dance creates a strong connection.”
Charon created the final work of the evening, “Exilic Dances” to klezmer-inspired music.
“I was inspired by the conversations in the world today regarding immigrants and refugees and the people who are in exile,” he said. “That really led me to a place to think about creating a work in terms of embracing a stranger when that person comes into a community.”
“Exilic Dances” is like a satire where Charon uses musical theater movement vocabulary and sensibility.
“In some ways it’s a lighthearted take on a serious topic,” he said. “I think the musical theater element is conceptual for me where everyone on the surface is happy and everything is great, but underneath there are many deep emotions.”
Charon is familiar with musical theater, having performed musicals until he was in his early 20s.
“It’s in my background, but nothing I intentionally tried to explore in my contemporary dance work,” he said. “So it was an enjoyable experience to return to some of those vocabularies.”
Regardless of the differences in the choreographic styles, all the works have a common theme — to make the audience feel different emotions.
“That comes from how you place the dancers in the space,” Charon said. “I think choreographically this is an element that is important to consider, but I also think it’s an element that is often forgotten. I think this delves pretty deeply into the subconscious of someone who watches the performance.”
Charon said he is grateful for the relationship the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company has with the Egyptian Theatre.
“It’s like a second home to us,” he said. “We’ve become adept to adapting the pieces to that unique space over the years, and it’s always a pleasure to go back.”
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and 11, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Tickets range from $19 to $29 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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