Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company will perform at the Egyptian Theatre
Last year, the Salt Lake City-based and internationally renowned Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company celebrated its 50th anniversary, and named Daniel Charon as its new artistic director.
This year, Charon’s mission is to help the company move forward. And as part of that journey, he will bring a performance to the Egyptian Theatre this weekend.
"I feel like this year represents our first step into the future," Charon told The Park Record. "We’re excited to move onto the next chapter."
The performances, which will be held Friday and Saturday, will give audiences a solid introduction to the award-winning dance troupe.
"I decided to do many excerpts of our repertoire to show the great cross-section of the diverse works that we do," Charon explained. "I selected many things so people in Park City and the area up there will have the opportunity to see and experience an amazing sampling of what we, as a company, do."
Each work will emit different tones, according to Charon.
"There are some pieces that are really serious, introspective and deeply thought-provoking," he promised. "Some of the work is lighter, fun and happy and have an optimism behind them, which will make people feel good."
Some of the pieces danced will be excerpts from Johannes Wieland’s "One Hundred Thousand," Doug Varone’s "States Rendered," Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company alumni Jillian Harris’ "In Crisi" and Charon’s own "Construct."
The company will also perform full works, including a piece called "Gravitate," choreographed by another company alum, John Allen.
"It’s a nice, short and succinct statement about a relationship between two people and I think that’s important," Charon said.
One of the pieces that will be presented, "In C," is especially close to Charon’s heart. It’s an excerpt of a work he is currently working on.
"I will premiere the full piece in April 2015, so I thought by using this work, we could give Park City a nice opportunity to get a glimpse of some of the works that we plan to premiere in the future," Charon said.
"In C" emerged from a collaboration between Charon and the Salt Lake Electrical Ensemble.
"When I first moved here, I researched out some local artists and came across this organization that re-envisioned the music of some 20th-century contemporary composers," Charon explained. "The great thing is that their medium is laptop computers. So the music they play live is utilized through software on their laptops.
"We decided to collaborate on a project that featured the music of Terry Riley’s ‘In C,’" Charon said. "Terry Riley is a famous minimalist composer, and this is possibly the first significant minimalist composition of the 20th century."
"In C" was first performed in 1964, so it’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and after selecting the music, Charon started working on the dance.
"I began looking at themes and ideas that Terry had when he made the score," Charon said. "Some of those themes address how an individual works within a group and how to maintain your voice as one person in a society."
Since the work is far from being finished, the choreographer continues to formulate ideas.
"I’m looking at how the score is interpreted, so I’m trying to find my way conceptually through the process," he said. "So the version of the piece that will be seen in Park City will probably not be seen in that form ever again."
Also, the Park City performance of "In C" will not be danced to the Terry Riley score, but to the music of another minimalist composer, Philip Glass.
"What I’ve done is come up with movement vocabulary that will be eventually used with the Terry Riley music," Charon said. "So this will be a great and unique opportunity for audiences to see it."
The music for the other works will feature compositions from Max Richter, Michael Nyman, Michael Wall and Clint Mansell, Charon mentioned.
"In addition to movement, there are elements of musical journeys in each work," he said.
Putting the repertory together was a journey unto itself, according to Charon.
"Even though we’ve been around for 50 years, we generally aren’t doing many historical works right now," he said. "We’re doing pieces that are current, which are part of our contemporary repertoire."
With that in mind, Charon looked at a handful of dances that he could cull from that have been up and running for the past three or four years.
"I had between 12 to 15 dances to choose from, because those were what we were interested in showing this time," he said. ‘So, when I felt it was time to put a performance together, I looked and said, ‘Which ones will make a good program? Which ones are going to balance each other out?"
Charon’s goal was to juxtapose something that was dramatic with something that was light.
"I also wanted the music to shift a different way so it will take the audience members on a visceral journey throughout the evening in a dynamic way that has an energetic arc to it," he said. "There is something about finding statements through physicality, and being able to communicate through them. There is so much space for contemplation and reflecting on your own humanity."
Charon, an alum of Doug Varone and Dancers and the Limón Dance Company, said his 1 ½ years with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, which was founded by Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury, have been rewarding.
"It’s a terrific opportunity to become part of an organization that is so well-established and has been so well-maintained and has this amazing reputation," he said. "It’s great for me as an artist who has worked independently for so long to come in and have the support of this organization to be able to choreograph and create my own work.
"To be able to come in and take it on the next phase of its journey is an incredible opportunity," Charon said. "I want to hopefully encourage growth and help the company stay relevant by presenting amazing work."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will welcome the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company on Friday, Oct. 17, and Saturday, Oct. 18. Curtain for both performances is 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $28 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com .
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