The School of Dance will open the 20/21 season on Oct. 20-23 with its first major virtual production—Utah Ballet I—which will be streamed from dance.utah.edu and is free to all.
Taking a hybrid approach of in-person and online rehearsals, the school has met the challenges of this pandemic with humility and imagination and is eager to safely share this production that features guest artists Katlyn Addison of Ballet West and Penny Saunders, Grand Rapids Ballet resident choreographer, who will debut new works along with the School of Dance’s Melissa Bobick and Justine Sheedy-Kramer.
“We recognize that the arts are a vital part of our connection to one another, and we need connection now more than ever,” said School of Dance Director Luc Vanier. “So, we, in the School of Dance, have made the decision to provide free access to any patron who would like to be moved by our movement this year. No cost. Just click.”
ABOUT THE SHOW
Originally from Ontario, Canada, Katlyn Addison danced with Houston Ballet as a corps de ballet dancers before joining Ballet West in 2011. She was promoted to a demi-soloist in 2014, then a soloist in 2016 and then to first soloist in 2018. An accomplished dancer and choreographer, Addison was the first Black ballerina in Ballet West’s history to perform the Sugar Plum Fairy in Frederick Ashton’s “The Nutcracker” and has been named one of Huffington Post’s “26 Black Female Choreographers and Dancers You Should Know.”
Addison’s piece for Utah Ballet I was inspired by the music of French composer Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the “champion fencer, classical composer, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris.”
“Earlier this summer Jared Oaks, Ballet West’s music director, had suggested I look further into an underestimated composer of his time, Saint-George,” Addison said. “What really captured my heart was he was from the French colony of Guadeloupe. I was intrigued! I was quite surprised with his connection to Mozart. Mozart was heavily inspired by Joseph’s music but never gave Joseph the deserved recognition for his composed pieces. Joseph’s warmth, rich, deep, brilliance of textures throughout his music will lead my piece using dance variations to a new dimension. Most of all I wanted to honor this underestimated artist by Illustrating the beauty of his composition.”
Guest artist Penny Saunders brings the audience a new dance film. Saunders, who was a recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship in 2016, is currently Grand Rapids Ballet’s resident choreographer, and has choreographed for the Cincinnati Ballet, BalletX, Sacramento Ballet, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Tulsa Ballet II and Pacific Northwest Ballet, among many others. In her piece for Utah Ballet, Saunders has embraced the challenge of creating work in a pandemic.
“With this project we decided to fully embrace the parameters set forth by the reality of COVID-19. Instead of trying to create a new work that looked and functioned like a typical stage production, we created scenarios throughout the Marriott Center for Dance building to be filmed, edited and shared digitally. This created a fun, new way of ‘performing’ for all of the artists involved.”
Assistant professor Melissa Bobick presents an original work entitled “Maybe Tomorrow,” a collection of thoughts and feelings that have emerged from our collective new reality.
“In this moment, we are faced with an entirely new existence,” says Bobick. “Things that used to be easy are difficult. Things that used to bring comfort are arresting. Things that used to ground us are distorted. There is little about our lives that we recognize, yet we still search for something better.
“Maybe Tomorrow,” brings voice to the vast array of emotions one experiences in the uncertain times of quarantine, isolation and extended virtual living. By looking to tomorrow, we are offered a glimpse into possibility and the opportunity to act. Together, we have the power to look beyond today and choose the path of the future. Today is an unprecedented challenge, but maybe tomorrow…
Adjunct assistant professor Justine Sheedy-Kramer brings us “Ebb & Flow,” seven solos created from a reflective process on the elements of grief, loosely guided by the shock, denial, guilt, anger/bargaining, depression/loneliness/reflection, reconstruction and acceptance.
“Ebb & Flow” asks the questions, “Do we distract ourselves from being pulled into a cycle of grief? How does the individual experience differ from the group, especially in a time where there may be such a collective sense of grief? Is it okay to grieve the small things, or does grief become saturated with perspective? How does one find solace in the midst of drowning, or are calm seas sometimes deceiving to the angst underneath?”
“The music is always the foundation for my choreography, and I enjoy discovering pieces that challenge my mind as a musician, dancer, and choreographer,” says Sheedy-Kramer, “Initial movement vocabulary was built from a solo started a year ago as a meditation on loss, and each of these solos have developed into a collaboration with each dancer to showcase their strengths and to also provide challenges to their artistic growth. I am incredibly excited to see these dancers venture onto the stage again after many long months.”