XI: Eleven Perspectives through Dance

27 November 2018 Published in News and Announcements

From the acclaimed University of Utah School of Dance emerges a bevy of new voices. Burgeoning student choreographers share with the Salt Lake City dance community a performance entitled XI: eleven perspectives on dance, showcasing not only their flourishing choreographic skills but also a vulnerable glimpse inside the minds and experiences of young artists. Many of the pieces focus on the idea of resilience, and the ways in which everyone moves through life. The eleven contributions are both the students’ interpretations of the human experience and an expression of who they are as choreographers and artists. Whether exploring concepts of gathering strength through community, finding pure joy in music and movement, or growing through the process of loss and acceptance, each new work is honest and sincere. These impassioned young artists show immense promise as they navigate the transitions from dancer to choreographer, follower to leader.

Each piece in the program differs from the others simply because of the choreographers’ expansion upon their individual voices. From start to finish their unique processes shape and mold the work they create. For choreographer and junior, Alexa Knutzen, her initial inspiration came from the beloved children’s book, The Giving Tree. While her piece may not follow the storyline that Shel Silverstein laid out, Knutzen says it is about how, “as human beings we tend to spread ourselves a little too thin.” Just as the namesake tree finds itself feeling empty, small, worthless, and ultimately lost, we can also find ourselves in the same situation. Her piece, “Lost Yet Found,” explores those parallels as well as the concept that “once we are pushed to our breaking point, it is then where we can start to build ourselves up from the bottom up.” 

Many choreographers often find inspiration within music, including senior Madeline Driver. Her new work, “Groove,” began just as it sounds. “I have to find music that invites me to move before I even think about creating a new work,” says Driver, adding that her process has majorly been focused on “diving into the fascinating culture of 1940s America and learning other ways to look at the many purposes of dance.” With lively swing music and an actual record player on stage, Driver and her dancers invite us all to remember the power that social dance had on the communities of that era. This core value has not informed the formation of her choreography but also how she works with her dancers, not only building a community in the performance but in real life as well. Driver’s focus on keeping the movement natural and instinctual allows the dancers to inflect their own voices and personality to the piece, bringing them into the choreographic process and adding authenticity to the display of social dance.

Fellow choreographer and senior, Brendan Rupp, also played with the idea of a community, but rather where we all fit in a community. Within his process he played with “the way a person has to navigate life to continually find the mythical “place” they belong, whether that means meeting somebody else, going off on your own for awhile, or perhaps sticking with a group of like minded people.” He incorporated these ideas into his choreography by also working with his dancers to find a natural fit between the movement, music, and individual bodies. His piece “wander/wonder” plays with the notion of whether or not the grass is always greener on the other side, and as Rupp noted, “sometimes it really is.”

These three exciting new works are simply a glimpse of the culmination of emerging ideas, voices, and choreographers presented in XI. This performance is not only a chance for the audience to experience the revelations of young artists, but also a thrilling opportunity for those artists to push beyond familiarity and share a vulnerability with each other and the audience. XI: eleven perspectives on dance runs November 29, 30, and December 1 at the Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah. Tickets are available online at Tickets.utah.edu,by phone at 801.581.7100 or at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. For more information please visit Dance.utah.edu.