With the beginning of each new year comes Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s annual show geared toward kids and kids at heart. Sometimes the show is culled from visually stimulating work from the likes of choreographer Alwin Nikolais but, most years, RWDC features one of several productions created by the company founders themselves. This year is Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury’s 1992 creation, Circle Cycle.
“The show is obviously based on circles and cycles,” explains Gigi Arrington, RWDC education director, who plays the narrator for the show. “It is told as a reverie of sorts. It’s a woman who is looking back on her life, and she’s kind of quirky; she has this obsession with circles. As she talks, she’s trying to remember all the things that are important, the things that helped shape who she is.”
The show makes use of multiple props to help propel the rather loose, nonlinear storyline, using anything round—ping pong balls, hula hoops, balloons, etc.—to demonstrate the continuous loop of life. And although the aim is at getting and holding a younger audience’s attention, Circle Cycle is anything but simplistic.
“Shirley and Joan wanted to perform a professional, highly produced show, so kids could see dance in a real theatrical setting, with all the bells and whistles,” says Arrington. “Sure, different performing-arts groups make that effort for adult audiences, but Ririe-Woodbury felt like the kids deserved the same treatment. It help ensures audiences in the future.”