After more than a decade at the artistic helm of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Denmark native Charlotte Boye-Christensen is eager to flex both her choreographic muscles and wide-ranging artistic sensibility. Boye-Christensen is taking bold new steps by joining forces with her husband-to-be, architect Nathan Webster, to form NOW ID, a brand-new interdisciplinary dance company with an international scope, based in Salt Lake City.
They’ve leaned heavily on relationships to pull off The Wedding, their inaugural, evening-length performance that was designed as “an exploration of the most public of private rituals.” Funded in large part by a successful Kickstarter campaign, the site-specific work will be staged for just two nights before the company moves on to its next endeavor, The Faust Project.
One of the biggest hurdles when creating a performance around the idea of matrimony, Boye-Christensen acknowledges, is that “the subject is so loaded, as people have preconceived ideas of what [a wedding] is. It has political and social ramifications; it is ancient, yet contemporary; it is global, yet personal; it is public, yet private. It is the ultimate ritual, and this being NOW’s first performance, it signifies the coming together of people from various places. We are engaging a very broad community in this creation, this jumping of fences.”
That is one of the most exciting moves by NOW. Its makeup is intentionally global, mostly banking on Boye-Christensen’s own international dance pedigree to bring together exciting artists and thinkers who can both challenge convention and combine creative energies. The list of artistic partners for this first performance includes Joffrey Ballet’s Yumelia Garcia; Ballet West’s Katherine Lawrence; New York-based dancer Ted Johnson (fresh off a stint in the hit production Sleep No More); and Ririe-Woodbury’s Joseph Blake. Composers hailing from Australia and Denmark, and local artists Gary Vlasic, Jesse Walker and Jan Andrews, among others are also among the ranks.
“We want to not only grow/expand local artistry (for local artists, including ourselves and also for viewers), but also to combine/add contemporary thought and development from elsewhere upon the unique qualities of the place …” Boye-Christensen says.
“Both choreography and architecture use so many people in the process,” she continues. “We coordinate light and space and sense and experience and people. Collaboration is inherent for both Nathan and I in the work we do, so bringing these collaborative fields together specifically (one more mind-centric and one more heart-[centric], yet absolutely interwoven) is very exciting for us.”
That also speaks to another key building block of NOW: that they refuse to be tied down to any one place or space. That decision surely, at least in part, originates from Boye-Christensen staging works almost solely in the Rose Wagner Center for the past decade—same stage, same surrounding, same feel. The other part is that, as an architect, Webster is keenly interested in idiosyncratic spaces and places, and how buildings and their ambiance can influence the aesthetics of a performance.
That, in short, is the major reason The Wedding will be staged in the historical Masonic Temple—a perfect backdrop for a performance that explores the intricacies of ritual. A space or building or cityscape too can become a contributor,” Boye-Christensen says. “The artists involved see the space differently, and suggest real modifications or are simply inspired to respond in their media. For viewers, we want to provide something unique ... bring the experience into unexpected places, to them, to engage the city and everyone’s use thereof.”
Since the performance probes relationship bonds, choreographically, it makes sense that the majority of the The Wedding is staged in a complex combination of emotional duets and solos, created by combining classical ballet tones with a more modern language. The solos are striking in their singularity, demonstrating a choreographic gift that Boye-Christensen has only strengthened with time. As for her duets, they feature various integrated couplings of every combination—duos en pointe mimicking and mirroring, or complex pairings that highlight a prominent mix of strong, sharp gestures interjected with and eventually broken by softer, rounder and more fluid intimations. It is this balletic dance of push and pull, forcefulness and vulnerability that ends up defining both The Wedding’s movement vocabulary and its ideas.
Artistically, the goals are ambitious. But through their collaborative interdisciplinary foundation, the strength of The Wedding and the future of NOW ID are rooted in that ability to harmonize grand gestures with subtle reality—of love and commitment in the former, and art and innovation in the latter. Or, perhaps, vice versa.
NOW ID: The Wedding
Salt Lake Masonic Temple
650 E. South Temple
$15 student/senior, $30 general