Salt Dance Fest

SDF logoDarkGreen 01Join us for two weeks of dance, collaboration, and art-making at the University of Utah, June 1 – June 12, 2015. With internationally renowned guest artists and scholars Paul Matteson, Sara Shelton Mann, and Jesse Zaritt along with esteemed University of Utah faculty Eric Handman and Stephen Koester, and SLC dance artist Molly Heller.

Salt Dance Fest 2015 brings together internationally renowned dance artists and dance makers Paul Matteson, Sara Shelton Mann, Jesse Zaritt along with esteemed University of Utah faculty Eric Handman and Stephen Koester and SLC dance artist Molly Heller for two weeks of moving, collaborating, dance making and the lively exchange of ideas, June 1–12, 2015.

Salt Dance Fest is excited to have these significant, influential artists in residence to share their unique and acclaimed artistic perspectives, and for their range and diversity of aesthetics and approaches to dance. SaltDanceFest, unique among dance festivals in the western United States, is committed to the exploration of the creative process in addition to contemporary technique and repertory work. With participants from around the country and the world, the workshop highlights and investigates the creative process and is designed to be a laboratory that nurtures and supports experimentation, exploration, curiosity, collaboration and the development of innovative choreography.

Participants work intimately with acclaimed artists, developing and exploring ideas in dance and choreography. Now in its fifth year, past artists at SaltDanceFest have included: Eiko & Koma, Chris Aiken, Angie Hauser, Teri and Oliver Steele, Marina Mascarell, Paul Selwyn Norton, Vickie Cortes, Kyle Abraham, Maura Keefe, Miguel Gutierrez, Netta Yerushalmy, Faye Driscoll, Zoe Scofield, Juniper Shuey, and Pavel Zuštiak. The workshop is housed at the University of Utah – a hub of dance pedagogy, performance and choreographic creation for the American West.

Participants of Salt Dance Fest select from three blocks of daily classes, engaging with the artists in: Contemporary Technique, Improvisational Practices, Performance Research, Composition, Creative Process, Repertory, Somatics, and Writing for Dance (see class schedule below). The SaltDanceFest 2015 class schedule will operate on a block system – participants may sign up for up to three blocks of classes as they prefer. Specific class requests, identified on the application form, are on a first-come first-served basis (further class information follows). The workshop/festival additionally includes a free morning somatic practice class as an introduction to the day, lectures and panel discussions with the guest artists, an improvisation jam and social events, as well as opportunities to present work in showings and concerts.

Workshop participants are expected to be mature dancers and young professionals interested in further developing choreographic, creative, performance and movement investigative skills. Participants must be 18 or older, and are expected to dance at an intermediate technical or advanced level. Enrollment is limited, providing more individual attention for each workshop participant. Housing and meals are available at an additional cost. College credit is also available. SDF participants may extend their studies in Utah at Repertory Dance Theatre’s Summerdance 2015 Workshop and/or Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s, Move-It Summer Dance Workshop (see information below). Info at and

Workshop Blocks & Schedule

Classes June 1 – 12 (M–F). Students may sign up to take one, two, or all three blocks – see the Fees section for more information.

Free Morning Body Preparation Class (available to all workshop participants) — 8:45–9:30

Each morning will begin with an optional somatic-based class open to all festival participants on a drop in basis. These classes, which serve as a physical preparation for the day and an opportunity to get in touch with yourself and your body, will be taught by Salt Lake City-based practitioners and University of Utah Department of Modern Dance faculty members.

Block I Classes – 9:30–11:20

  • Contemporary Technique – Paul Matteson
  • Dance as a vehicle of the Imagination. Building Bridges through Improvisation – Sara Shelton Mann
  • Awakening Dimensionality through Sensation – Molly Heller

Block II Classes – 11:30–1:30

  • Contemporary Technique – Jesse Zaritt
  • The Solo – Sara Shelton Mann
  • Collaborative Dance Making: “Form from Storm” – Eric Handman

Block III Classes – 2:45–4:45

  • Partnering Possibilities – Paul Matteson
  • Composition / Performance: Activism and the Practice of Performance – Jesse Zaritt
  • The Dialogue of Dance – Stephen Koester and Molly Heller

Participants are expected to participate for the full two weeks in all classes for which one has enrolled. This allows participants to deeply immerse themselves in each artist’s unique creative process and aesthetic, and to delve deeply into one’s own creative explorations and development.

pdfDownload Week 1 Schedule

pdfDownload Week 2 Schedule

Class Descriptions

Contemporary Technique - Paul Matteson

A dynamic investigation of off-balanced yet precise multi-focused movement. Classes begin with slow and tender mindful walking to help ground attention in the body followed by vigorous task-based improvising to generate warmth. Then, a series of buoyant patterns spiraling in and out of the floor and up into the air offer a range of texture, nuance, and energetic challenge. The patterns build toward a precarious traveling phrase with ever re-directing spiraling pathways. Movement vocabulary is taught by breaking down in detail body-part initiations paying particular attention to sensation and safety.

Dance as a vehicle of the Imagination. Building Bridges through Improvisation – Sara Shelton Mann

Opening the windows of perceptual information and movement exploration creates an inter-disciplinary approach to creative play in composition. This workshop includes journey work, writing, building scenarios and bridging to the unknown with your imagination muscles.

Awakening Dimensionality through Sensation - Molly Heller

This workshop aims to expand our potential as receptive, multi-dimensional movers. Integrating energy principles derived from the Japanese healing art of Reiki, we will awaken a form of hyper-awareness that expands one’s dynamic presence while performing. As we intimately build partnerships- with our surrounding environment, with one’s self, and with each other, we will specifically investigate the potentiality of the hands and feet to feel movement and the power of the eyes to direct and transmit energy. This class calls us to recognize the potency of our emotive beings, to go beyond the “ordinary range of perception.”

Contemporary Technique - Jesse Zaritt

Each class begins with practices that activate a sense of availability. We find ways to let go of tension, fixed habits and perceptual/intellectual rigidity. Improvisational and choreographed exercises help us to find openness, clarity, and length in our bodies. Pleasure is linked to effort, power and strength as the class progresses and as the choreographed exercises become more complex. Phrase work allows us to research how to utilize physical states and forces such as continuous motion, spiral/rotation, sequential articulation and momentum. Throughout the class, we will encourage each other to embrace and extend our physical capacities as empowered, confident movers. Technique class will also be a place of critical thinking. The material we study exists to nourish our creative bodies/minds, challenging us to re-articulate/re-imagine our relationships to codified movement systems.

The Solor - Sara Shelton Mann

A conversation with your archetypes and transparency. Work is developed through conversation, improvisation, writing and self-inquiry building a puzzle of time/space frames that act as an entrance into the doorway of consciousness.

Collaborative Dance Making: "Form from Storm" - Eric Handman

Students will join Eric Handman in a collaborative process to build an original work. Grounded in dense networks of complex partnering, this will be an emergent process of non-linear development. Various devices and prompts will be introduced to develop, interpret and manipulate movement. Choreography will spawn from what we discover rather than what we know.

Partnering Possibilities - Paul Matteson

A toolbox of methods for collaboratively generating intricate and idiosyncratic partnering. As a safe and supportive ensemble, we will enter into physical investigations working with response to touch, negative space, and various ways of harnessing forces of momentum. Duets, trios, and groups will follow imaginative construction/reconstruction steps to create dances that at once honor compositional/performance ranges while collectively upping the ante. There will be repeated opportunities in the last part of class to show.

Composition/Performance: Activism and the Practice of Performance - Jesse Zaritt

This workshop will investigate relationships between activism, performance and choreography, addressing the following questions: How does dance matter now? What constitutes an activist gesture? In what ways is art making already a form of activism? Our studio work will draw on established models that bring together performance and social change such as Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed. The focus, however, will be on developing/co-creating new ways to connect choreography, performance and activism. Together we will re-imagine ways in which concerns for justice/social change can be integrated into our choreographic projects.

The Dialogue of Dance - Stephen Koester and Molly Heller

In this workshop, participants will investigate various approaches for viewing, writing and discussing contemporary dance. Through diverse exposure, we will challenge our personal aesthetic interests and assumptions while simultaneously defining (and further refining) our own artistic voice. Exercising a critical yet elastic viewing lens, we will dialogue (both orally and through writing practices) with global work being made. We will write as a means to see and better understand the dualities that exist within viewing and critiquing the work of others. And through this inquisitive practice, we can hopefully deepen our definitions of dance itself.

Guest Artist Bios

Sara Shelton Mann

Sara Shelton Mann is a legendary dance artist whose choreography and teaching has played a significant role in shaping contemporary dance performance aesthetics and choreographic process. Her protégés (Curtis, Epiphano, Hennessy, Hermesdorf, De Hoyos, Erdman, among others) tour internationally. Herself a protégé of Alwin Nikolais and Murray Lewis in NYC in the 1960s, Sara is also deeply influenced by Contact Improvisation. From 1979-96 Sara directed Contraband, a ground-breaking troupe working at the leading edges of contemporary dance, performance, ritual, and music. She has received 6 Isadora Duncan Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography, and most recently San Francisco Bay Gaurdian Goldie Lifetime Achievement Award. Sara collaborated and toured internationally with Guillermo Gomez-Pena 1996-99 and has created commissioned work across the US, Europe and Russia. Sara’s work has been supported by Djerassi Artist in Residence Programs, ODC Commissions, NEA, NEFA, SFAC, SFF, Zellerbach and Gerbode Foundation. Her Movement Alchemy training is an ongoing teaching project and is influenced by certifications and studies in metaphysical and healing traditions. Sara’s performance work is a platform for collaboration and research in consciousness.

Paul Matteson

Paul Matteson lived for many years in New York City as a choreographer, performer, and teacher. He was a principal dancer with the internationally touring Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company from 2008-2012, performing at The Kennedy Center Honors and featured in The American Masters documentary Bill T. Jones: A Good Man. His duet collaborations with Jennifer Nugent were presented in NYC by Danspace Project, Symphony Space, Dance Theater Workshop, and received National Performance Network (NPN) Support for performances at The Colony Theater in Miami, Florida. A NYC-ARTS Channel Thirteen profile on Jennifer and Paul is now available online. From 2000-2005, Paul was a member of David Dorfman Dance and Race Dance, receiving a New York Dance and Performance Award (BESSIE) for performance in 2002. He also performed for Terry Creach, Peter Schmitz, Kota Yamazaki, Chamecki/Lerner, Jamie Cunningham, Neta Pulvermacher, Susan Sgorbati, Helena Franzen, and Keith Johnson. He was a guest artist at numerous universities nationally and abroad and taught/performed regularly at The American Dance Festival, The Bates Dance Festival, and The Florida Dance Festival. Paul recently relocated to Massachusetts. He joined Amherst College and Mount Holyoke College in the fall of 2012 as an Assistant Professor of Dance. He is a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council Award recipient in Choreography. He continues to collaborate with Jennifer Nugent and also with Wendy Woodson, Raja Feather Kelly, Jim Morrow, Jennifer Polins, Karl Rogers, composer Eric Sawyer, and composer Ted Coffey. His duet collaboration with Sara Hook (Bored House Guests) premiered in October 2014 at The West End Theater in NYC as part of the Soaking Wet festival, garnering enthusiastic critical response.

Jesse Zaritt

Jesse Zaritt received an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/ The American Dance Festival (2008). He is currently the inaugural Research Fellow in the School of Dance at the University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA) where he is teaching and making dance works that draw connections between ethics, embodiment and mythology. Jesse has recently taught at Bard College (NY), the American Dance Festival (NC), Hollins University (VA), Pomona College (CA), and the University of the Americas Puebla (Mexico) as well as at festivals in Japan, Korea, and Russia. He has performed his solo work in Russia, Korea, Germany, New York, Japan, Mexico and Israel. His solo ‘Binding’ is the recipient of three 2010 New York Innovative Theater Awards: Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Solo Performance, and Outstanding Performance Art Production. In 2012, Jesse (in partnership with Jumatatu Poe) was an artist in the Studio Series Residency Program at New York Live Arts. From September 2008 through June 2011, he was an artist in residence at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan as part of LABA, a laboratory for new Jewish culture. He has been commissioned to create original choreographic works for numerous American college programs including the University of the Arts (PA); he has also created choreography for the Seminar HaKibbutzim College (Israel) and the Acco Theater Festival (Israel). Jesse was the recipient of a 2006-2007 Dorot Fellowship in Israel which enabled him to study the relationship between political conflict and choreography. He was a performer with the Shen Wei Dance Arts Company (NYC/2001-2006), and the Inbal Pinto Dance Company (Tel Aviv/2008). He currently dances in the work of Faye Driscoll and Netta Yerushalmy as well as in a collaborative partnership with Philadelphia based choreographer Jumatatu Poe. Jesse graduated Cum Laude in 2000 from Pomona College (CA).

Eric Handman

Eric Handman is an American choreographer and an Associate Professor at the University of Utah’s Department of Modern Dance. Prior to receiving his MFA from the University of Utah in 2003, he earned a BA in English from Skidmore College in 1991. He was a member of New York Theatre Ballet and then a professional dancer in various New York–based contemporary dance companies such as Doug Varone and Dancers, Nicholas Leichter Dance and Joy Kellman and Company. He has worked with David Dorfman, Lisa Race, Stephen Koester, Charlotte Boye-Christensen, Koosilja-Hwang, Eun Me Ahn, Pooh Kaye and many others. He teaches domestically and internationally specializing in technique, composition, improvisation, contact improvisation, dance studies, criticism and theory. His choreography has been commissioned by various companies and departments across the United States. He has taught, performed and shown his choreography throughout the United States as well as Costa Rica, England, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Hungary. His work has been shown at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He has served on the board of directors of the Congress on Research in Dance and is presently on the board of the American College Dance Association. Eric is a Fulbright Specialist and a member of the Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholars at the University of Utah for his work on mobile technology and choreographic thinking. In 2014 he was a winner of two choreography competitions: the 2014 New Visions Choreography Competition for Idaho Dance Theater and the 2014 Pretty Creatives International Choreographic Competition for the Northwest Dance Project.

Molly Heller

Molly Heller is a dance artist based in Salt Lake City. After re-locating to Utah from New York City in the winter of 2011, she appreciates the comparatively quiet streets and the stunning angularity of the Wasatch mountains. As a 2015 MFA candidate (UTA Fellowship, Scott Marsh Mentorship Award), Molly conducts her sensory-based research in the Department of Modern Dance at the University of Utah. Currently, her movement research investigates performance as a cathartic act and the relationship between physical expression and emotional trauma. Prior to graduate school, she was on faculty at SUNY New Paltz (NY) and Dance New Amsterdam (NYC) and has guest taught for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Ririe-Woodbury’s 2014 Professional Intensive (SLC), Boise State University, and Balance Dance Company (Boise, ID). Molly’s choreographic work has also been presented in New York, Utah, and Idaho in venues such as: Danspace Project at St. Marks Church (NYC), Movement Research at the Judson Church (NYC), Green Space (NYC), 2010 DUMBO Dance Festival (Brooklyn, NY), Balance Dance Company (Boise, ID), Boise State University and Sugar Space Studio for the Arts (SLC). She recently produced and directed “If a Snake Should Bite,” an evening of choreography and puppetry at the Ladies Literary Club in SLC, featuring a collaborative duet with Netta Yerushalmy and a premiere of her new work “This is Your Paradise.” Molly holds a certification in Pilates and Reiki and is co-owner of SLC’s loose-leaf tea house, the Tea Grotto.

Stephen Koestner

Stephen Koester is a Professor as well as Chair in the Department of Modern Dance at the University of Utah. He was formerly co-Artistic Director of Creach/Koester, an all male dance company based in New York City, which toured throughout the US, Canada and Europe. With partner Terry Creach, Stephen received five consecutive choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, plus a choreographic fellowship from the New York State Foundation for the Arts. Creach and Koester also received the Bonnie Bird North American Choreographic Award along with extensive additional choreographic/company support. In addition to his professional activities with Creach/Koester, Stephen has been a guest artist at numerous colleges and universities throughout the country and continues to choreograph and teach both nationally and internationally. He has made over 135 dances. His work has appeared in the repertories of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre, Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, Dance Forum Taipei, among others, including his own company Dance Koester Dance, which has presented several Salt Lake City seasons. In 2004, Stephen won Repertory Dance Theatre’s “Sense of Place” National Choreographic Competition, setting a new work on the company, and in 2006 received a Utah Arts Council Established Artist Grant to support his company choreography. At the University of Utah, Stephen regularly choreographs, and teaches improvisation, composition, technique, and graduate seminars. In 2002, Stephen received the College of Fine Arts Faculty Excellence Award for creative research, and in 2008 was named a University Professor.


Participants are encouraged to take the entire workshop, three classes daily for two weeks. Participants may elect to take only one or two blocks of the class, one/two classes daily for two weeks. It may also be possible to arrange taking only one week, which is the minimum that a participant may enroll in one of the afternoon classes (contact SDF if you wish to request this option). The morning contemporary technique classes are open on a drop-in basis to those not fully participating in Salt Dance Fest, space permitting.



3 Blocks of classes (3 classes a day) $660, 2 Blocks of Classes (2 classes a day) $440, 1 Block of Classes (one class a day) $220, Individual Contemporary Technique class – $20. Open to public on a space available basis. Drop ins may not be able to be accommodated if the class is considered full. SDF participants may extend their studies in Utah at Repertory Dance Theatre’s Summerdance 2015 Workshop and the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Move-It Summer Workshop (see more information about these workshops below). Take two workshops (including SaltDanceFest) and receive 10% off each workshop. Take all three workshops for a 15% discount. For further information about taking two or more workshops at a discounted price contact

Returning Participant Discount

If you were a SaltDanceFest participant in the past, we want you back. Those who were full participants (3-blocks) once in the past, receive a 10% tuition reduction. Those who were full participants (3-blocks) twice in the past, receive a 20% tuition reduction. To take advantage of this discount, contact .

Location, Arrival & Orientation


Salt Dance Fest is housed on the University of Utah campus, Salt Lake City, in the beautiful Marriott Center for Dance, which features six large studios and a 330–seat theater. The campus is situated in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains overlooking Salt Lake City, and the surrounding area offers tremendous recreational activities both for urban and wilderness exploration. Salt Lake City is known for its unique and vibrant and artistic culture, as well as for its museums, nightlife, mountains, deserts, the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats. Salt Lake City has numerous bus lines and TRAX (an extensive light rail system) allowing for easy travel around the Salt Lake Valley without needing a car.

Arrival & Orientation

Salt Lake City is a Delta hub and served by multiple other airlines. Taxis and TRAX to campus housing are inexpensive. The University is linked to downtown Salt Lake City by light rail (TRAX). SaltDanceFest participants should arrive on Sunday, May 31 in order to check in at the orientation meeting, 7pm at the Marriott Center for Dance.

Rooms & Meals

Campus housing is available for SaltDanceFest participants. Participants may be housed in University dormitories, typically in single rooms. An on-campus meal plan is available; there are multiple other eating options on or off-campus convenient to the Marriott Center for Dance. To arrange meals, please visit Meals may also be purchased upon arrival.

On Campus Housing: $30/night (rates subject to change)
Meals: 25 meals for $200 (plus tax) or 40 meals for $450 (plus tax) (rates subject to change)

To arrange housing and, please send your request and questions to  or 801-581-7327.

College Credit

Salt Dance Fest participants may receive college credit for the workshop/festival, 1–4 credits at $150/credit. To register for credit contact  or 801-581-7327. Credit may be arranged during the workshop.

Other Summer Dance Workshops in Salt Lake City

RDT’s 50th Anniversary Summer Workshop Series – Repertory Dance Theatre is excited to announce their 50th Anniversary Summer Workshop Series. Throughout the summer, RDT will be offering master classes and full day workshops with incredible artists and teachers including Molissa Fenley, Bill Evans, Tiffany Rea Fisher, Claire Porter, and Nina Watt. Classes begin in May and run in various weeks throughout the summer.

For further information: 801-534-1000 or

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Move-It Summer Workshop – July 20-July 31. Join Artistic Director Daniel Charon and a faculty of contemporary dance artists in Salt Lake City, Utah, for this annual dance intensive that seeks to develop and hone the skills necessary to be a technically proficient, creatively motivated, and artistically expressive professional dancing artist.

For further information, contact 801-297-4241 or For further information about taking two or more workshops at a discounted price contact .


To be considered fully registered for SaltDanceFest 2015, you must compete 2 steps:

1. Complete and return the Salt Dance Fest 2015 Application (via mail to address on application or email to ). pdfDownload the application.

Submit Salt Dance Fest applications early to insure placement with artists of choice. Enrollment is limited in order to offer an intimate working environment and is on a first-come first-served basis. Once a class is filled, Salt Dance Fest participants may be placed in an alternative block class. Application materials must be complete and tuition paid in full in order to be registered.

2. Pay your full Salt Dance Fest 2015 Tuition, either by mailing in a check/money order (payable to the University of Utah, Department of Modern Dance) with your application, or by paying with a credit card securely online.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Salt Dance Fest fees will be fully refunded (less $50 administrative fee) only if written notice of cancellation is received on or before May 31. Room and board fees may also be refunded (less $50 administrative fee) if cancelled on or before May 31.

For Questions and Further Information, contact 801-581-7327 or