nLord of the Dance
nWhether you’re a seasoned fan of Lord of the Dance or you’re being dragged there kicking and screaming by a very persistent significant other, you probably have a good idea of what to expect when the curtain rises.
Lord of the Dance is now in its 11th year of touring, and though its creator Michael Flatley no longer tours with the show, he remains its producer and director. The show is now comprised of two troupes, splitting their global domination between Europe and Asia (Troupe 1), and North and South America (Troupe 2). The show has always had a reputation as housing some of the most talented dancers in the world, and better, stronger dancers are constantly being recruited.n
For those who are concerned that they’ll be seeing the same old performance they’ve seen before, the answer is both yes and no. The story being told in Lord of the Dance is the same as it’s always been—an Irish folktale about good and evil, with a sprite who helps save the day, singing and violin performances, and lots of deep kissing between The Lord and the ladies vying for his affection.n
However, the average age of the dancers is 22, which means nobody has to watch a middle-age Flatley tromping around in his tights anymore. The dancers are tighter and more precise than ever, and the “Planet Ireland” dance featuring the full ensemble at the end of the show forces even the most cynical audience members’ feet to tap, and realize that they’re truly impressed, even if they won’t admit it. (Jennifer Heaney)n
Lord of the Dance @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, Friday & Saturday, January 30 & 31 @ 8:00pm, 801-581-7100. KingsburyHall.orgn
nAll the President’s Men
nWhat could be more appropriate, in the first weeks of a new president’s administration, than an art exhibit about the leaders of our country? Knowing Leia Bell, however, the show at Signed & Numbered print gallery will be anything but the staid and stern portraits from history books. But besides the whimsy and fun of one of her print shows, it’s still educational.
Bell invited 45 artists from all over the country to create works about American leaders, including President Barack Obama, and include some surprising facts about them. Benjamin Harrison, for example, died of pneumonia after two weeks in office; the attempted remedies included snakes. Thus, Richard Kirby’s depiction includes the reptiles slithering about the statesman. Artists include people who have already been spotted on the walls at Signed & Numbered, and even some of their names are creative: Delicious Design League, Strawberryluna and Ugly Bogus. It will be interesting to see what graffiti-influenced local Trent Call will do with the subject of John Quincy Adams. At press time, Bell was awaiting a picture of “Tricky Dick” Nixon from Chicago artist Dan Grzeca, as well as others.n
In addition to William McKinley, whose original artist dropped out, Bell took on Andrew Jackson, because he was from her home state of Tennessee. “He was the first president to face an assassination attempt, and the only one to fight back. He beat his assailant with a cane,” she says. “I thought that was pretty bad-ass.” (Brian Staker)n
All the President’s Men @ Signed & Numbered Gallery, 221 E. Broadway, through Feb. 16, 801-596-2093. Signed-Numbered.comn
nUnique vision, courageous inspiration and free admission: Priceless. In our current economic crisis, a fresh perspective and a motivating experience is essential; especially if the price tag reads “free.” The Salt Lake Art Center provides the means.
Featuring four artists, John Bramblitt, Vojko Rizvanovic, Eric C. Peterson and George Mendoza, the Blindsight exhibit showcases the impressive talent of creating art through the eyes of the blind. Each artist perceives in spite of different visual impairments; finding light, color and texture in their challenged visual world.n
Dripping with monochromatic hues and colors, Peterson’s paintings literally drip off the canvas. I yearned to touch the image, to use my alternative senses to experience the strokes of his abstract swirl of art.n
Mendoza makes lemonade with lemons, using his impaired eyesight, in which a large red spot centerpieces his vision, as his inspiration. His paintings have a circular theme.n
Rizvanovic’s realism makes the observer wonder, “Did he cheat? How is he able to create such detailed work?” But with such detail comes great determination and passion for perfection. Rizvanovic uses magnifying tools to help guide his fine brush. My single disappointment—he showcased only two paintings.n
Using puffy paint and natural pigment oil paints, Bramblitt’s unique technique produces incredibly colorful shading; he paints light with his fingertips. He distinguishes colors through each oil paint’s different texture.n
Loss of sight but not insight to the aesthetics of creation, Blindsight initiates a critical discussion of where the vision of art lies in the artist. Does creation begin in memory or imagination? You decide. (Kris Heitkamp)n
Blindsight @ Salt Lake Art Center, 20 S. West Temple, Jan. 17-May 23, 801-328-4201, SLArtCenter.org. Free and open to the public.n
n Diane Tuft: Salt Lake Reconsidered
nThe Great Salt Lake ecosystem is a most unique environment. Even though it is often the source of disgust when its nasty smell comes wafting across downtown, there really is no better place to capture a sunset or sunrise in Utah.
Such distinctiveness is the subject of photographer Diane Tuft’s latest exhibition, Salt Lake Reconsidered, a collection of ultraviolet (UV) photographs of the lake and surrounding environs. What spurred her interest was the fact that the salty body of water interacts with UV radiation in unusual ways, resulting in an astonishing array of vivid colors existing far beyond the scope of natural human vision. Tuft’s photography is absolutely stunning and brings out the features of this unique landscape in ways quite literally never seen before. A number of the pieces focus on the fractal patterns often prevalent in nature while others highlight the layering of land, water and sky in ways reminiscent of painter Mark Rothko. The amazing thing is that although they’re nearly unrealistically vibrant at times, the photographs have absolutely no alterations in coloring.n
Such an exhibit provides not only an artistic exploration but a scientific one as well. That is why Westminster College’s Director of the Great Salt Lake Institute Dr. Bonnie Baxter joined forces with Tuft and Kimball Art Center to present the work. Slated for the opening is a reception and discussion on how the science behind this naturally unique environment helped to produce such incredible pieces of art. (Jacob Stringer)n
Diane Tuft: Salt Lake Reconsidered @ Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., Park City, Jan. 31-March 15; reception & discussion Jan. 31, 6 p.m.; 435-649-8882. Kimball-Art.orgn
nThe Trip to Bountiful
nWhen a play makes its way to the screen, it’s easy for a specific interpretation to become so iconic that it’s hard to see the material through new eyes. Geraldine Page won an Academy Award for the 1985 film version of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, so it takes a performer with a certain special something to step into the shoes of the play’s heroine, widow Carrie Watts.
Enter talented local actor Jayne Luke, who has shone in roles for every possible local theater company. The Grand Theatre now gets the benefits of her gifts as she takes on the story of Carrie’s efforts to escape the well-intentioned control of her son and daughter-in-law to take one last visit to the childhood home she hasn’t seen in 30 years. Carl Nelson, Betsy West and Erin Fair fill out the cast, but it will be Luke who gets both the challenge and the gift of taking Carrie Watts’ journey. We’re betting she’s up to the task. (Scott Renshaw)n
The Trip to Bountiful @ SLCC Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State, 957-3322, Jan. 29–Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m. & Saturday matinees 2 p.m. The-Grand.org.n
nFootwork: An Evening of Percussive Dance
nRepertory Dance Theatre’s LINK series has become a vital outreach program in the community that assists local choreographers with producing their own work. Appropriately monikered, the series connects disparate groups with stage performances that might otherwise fall through the art-calendar cracks.
Such is the case with Footwork: An Evening of Percussive Dance with Debby Robertson and friends of the Utah Tap Caucus like Foot Poetry, The Rocky Mountain Express Cloggers and Tablado. These various groups will explore all sorts of percussive dance styles such as tap, flamenco, clogging, Irish Step Dance and African rhythms.n
Although it’s not the first time producer Robertson has shared the stage with RDT, this time she will be performing a “call and response” piece with a drummer, a light-hearted Bill Evans work and a classic Eddie Rector vaudeville era routine. (Jacob Stringer)n
Footwork: An Evening of Percussive Dance @ Rose Wagner Center for the Performing Arts, 138 W. Broadway, Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m., 801-355-ARTS, ArtTix.org.n
n Visa Freestyle International
nWhile 2002 might seem like a long time ago along about now, everything we built for the Olympics is still getting plenty of good use in 2009. The world is still welcome here, especially if they want to travel at high speeds on snow and ice. Just days after clearing out the Sundancers, Park City will again play host to an international event—in this case, three days of people doing stunts on the slopes at Deer Valley.
The Visa Freestyle International kicks off on Thursday morning with qualification rounds in men’s and women’s moguls, with the finals taking place in early afternoon. That evening, Michael Franti and Spearhead perform a free concert on Main Street in Park City near the Town Lift Plaza.n
Friday features aerial competitions from 1-8 p.m., followed by fireworks. On Saturday morning, the action moves to Park City Mountain Resort for the ski halfpipe competition, before going back to Deer Valley for the dual moguls, which finish up just before 10 p.m., followed by fireworks. All events are free and open to the public.n
The events will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, Feb. 8. (Geoff Griffin)n
Visa Freestyle International @ Deer Valley Resort, Jan. 29-31, DeerValley.com, USSkiTeam.comn
nDark Play, or Stories for Boys
nThe Internet: threat, or menace? Worrying about kids stumbling onto porn sites has become almost quaint in a world where chat-room predators or suicide-provoking hate can be a literal threat to young people’s lives.
Inspired by real-life events in England, Carlos Murillo wrote Dark Play, or Stories for Boys. It follows a teenager as his experiments with creating fake online identities overlap with the emotional needs of a real-world 16-year-old boy. What responsibility do you have when you coax someone to fall in love with a person who doesn’t really exist? Join director Tobin Atkinson and Salt Lake Acting Company in an edgy exploration of the world where our youth are more endangered—and more dangerous—than they might ever have been before. (Scott Renshaw)n
Dark Play, or Stories for Boys @ Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, 801-363-SLAC, Jan. 30–Feb. 22. SaltLakeActingCompany.orgn
n Sing-Along Mary Poppins
nWe know, we know—you’re just kicking yourself that you missed your opportunity to sing along with Julie Andrews last month at the Tower Theatre’s special screening of The Sound of Music. But if you can’t bear the thought of waiting another year for such an opportunity, how about singing along to Mary Poppins instead?
Hard as it may be to believe, it’s been 45 years since Walt Disney combined Andrews as P.L. Travers’ magical nanny with dancing animated penguins and Dick Van Dyke’s legendarily horrendous Cockney accent, and taught us all the biggest word you’ve ever heard. The Midvale Arts Council invites everyone for a free screening of the film—that’s less than the tuppence a bag it costs to feed the birds!—where you’ll have the chance to raise your voice to the memorable songs by Richard and Robert Sherman. You won’t need a spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down. (Scott Renshaw)n
Sing-Along Mary Poppins @ Midvale Performing Arts Center, 695 W. Center St. (7720 South), Midvale, Friday, Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m. MidvaleArts.comn
n Scott Whitaker Metal Art
nThe look and design of the hair salon has undergone a metamorphosis since the traditional rows of helmet-style hair driers, shampooing sinks and not much on the wall except mirrors. Since the ’80s, salons have taken to becoming more daring with their décor, even including original artwork, so the space becomes one in which to view art in addition to making one’s hair a work of art.
That’s where High Life Salon and Scott Whitaker come in. Whitaker, who designs alternative energy systems, has created a whole collection of work from materials found in the desert, mostly metal car parts and other relics of machinery. It’s a kind of ecology, giving the objects a second life, and the liveliness extends even to a small sculpture hanging from a tree outside. His neon-lit Solar Saucer (pictured above) can be seen close by on gallery-stroll night, pumping out techno sounds, looking like something from Burning Man. (Brian Staker)n
Scott Whitaker @ Metal Art, High Life Salon, 245 E. Broadway, 349-2859.n
n Chinese New Year Festival
nDon’t fret if you didn’t get to kiss someone on Chinese New Year’s Eve (2009’s actual lunar new year date was Jan. 26). Because we sometimes need to wait until the weekend to celebrate properly, the Salt Lake City Library hosts a Chinese New Year Festival on Saturday.
Dancers, display booths and other entertainment and activities will help local residents of any ethnic descent ring in the Year of the Ox. In traditional Chinese interpretation, the influence of the Ox—particularly the Earth Ox, as is the case this year—results in individuals who are dependable, hard-working leaders. Is it just a coincidence that our newly inaugurated president was also born in a Year of the Ox? Let’s all just hope for something more than we got from that scheming, manipulative little Rat year that just passed. (Scott Renshaw)n
Chinese New Year Festival @ Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200, Saturday, Jan. 31, 1-4 p.m. SLCPL.org tttt