Dance is not just a sideshow in Salt Lake City’s performing-arts scene; it’s a main event. And do we ever have it goin’ on: Whether you’re looking for the verve of classical ballet, the imaginative roller coaster of cutting-edge modern dance or the vivid and intense pacing of jazz and hip-hop, you’ll find it in this valley. Salt Lake City’s vibrant dance companies bring the fire and take it up a level, stomping out any notion of a boring, bland Utah.
Utah’s critically acclaimed professional ballet company boasts dancers from around the world who spice up Artistic Director Adam Sklute’s 2009 line-up. Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly (Feb. 13-21) and Treasure of the Ballet Rusees (March 27-April 4) are coming up, along with the return engagement of Innovations (May 14-23), a program of original pieces choreographed by Ballet West’s dancers for the Ballet West’s dancers. Capitol Theater, 50 W. 200 South, 355-2787, BalletWest.org
Odyssey Dance Theatre
Offering a full variety of eclectic and entertaining productions and repertory performances, Odyssey Dance Theatre is a local company with a big following. Artistic Director Derryl Yeager’s annual Halloween spectacular Thriller, holiday tradition It’s A Wonderful Life and spring repertory performance Shut Up and Dance (March 18-28) proves this troupe knows how to entertain while presenting its artistry. Various venues, 495-3262, OdysseyDance.com
Repertory Dance Theatre
“Dedicated to the creation, performance and appreciation of modern dance,” since 1966, Repertory Dance Theatre has worked to demystify the art of dance by pushing the limits. Kicking off the 2009 season is Charette (March 7), a dance-off that must be seen to be believed, as it will determine Utah’s most skilled choreographer. Nine dancers and nine chairs will reveal the full spectrum of human emotion and experience in Chairs (April 9-12). Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-2787, RDTutah.org
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
Nationally recognized under Charlotte Boye-Christensen’s artistic leadership, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is continually raising the bar for modern performances by performing original and innovative works. Hailed by Dance Magazine and The New York Times for its passion and creative instincts, Ririe-Woodbury’s 2009 choice offerings include The Crystal and the Sphere (Jan. 30-31), about phantasmagorical characters who are woven into colorful dance magic, and Surfaces (April 23-25), wrapping up the company’s 45th season with three award-winning, physically engaging works. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-2787, RirieWoodbury.com
And now for something completely different: SB Dance is nowhere near conventional, even among other modern-dance companies. Founder Stephen Brown is something of a local legend, known for his dance experiments that utilize theater, imagery, sound and object. After last year’s dramatic conclusion of Revenge of Yoga the Musical, Brown’s creative juices took a break. By the time the juices were ready to flow again, the world economy had tanked. So, instead of producing a new large-scale musical, the company wants you to decide what this year’s performance should be (vote online at SBDance.com). Save the dates, June 12-21, for whatever comes next. Leona Wagner Black Box Theater, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, 355-3787, SBDance.com
University of Utah Ballet & Modern Dance Departments
As the country’s oldest college dance department (established in 1951), the University of Utah hosts high-energy student showcases such as the Performing Dance Company concert (Feb. 19-21, 26-28), the senior concert (March 11-12, 14, April 2-4), the ballet showcase (Feb. 5-7), and alumni concerts that feature choreography by students and renowned guest teachers. This is young, vibrant dance at its best, open and affordable to all. U of U Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance, 330 S. 1500 East, 581-7100, Ballet.Utah.Edu; Dance.Utah.Edu
Kingsbury Hall hosts a variety of touring dance companies on its grand stage. In 2009, look for Lord of the Dance (Jan. 30-31) and the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (Feb. 7). U of U, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 581-7100, KingsburyHall.org
Hot to Trot
Offering lessons in Salsa, Ballroom, Latin, Hip-hop, Break Dancing and Zumba, DF Latin Dance Studio does not hesitate to shake and Tango its way into the hearts of locals. Here, you can find a salsa lesson every day of the week and Brazilian Afro-Samba workshops throughout the month. Drop-ins are welcome. Stop by for some nonstop, energetic fun, geared to beginners and to expert levels. DF Latin Dance Studio and Performance Center, 346 S. 500 East, Suite 200, 1-877-326-9233, SalsaInUtah.com
Emily LaRoche is a University of Utah student.