TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. – Ririe-Woodbury (Ri-re Wood-bûr-e) Dance Company was founded in 1964 by two Utah women, Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe, who were both professors of dance at the University of Utah.
Their passion for dance not only included performing, choreographing, and teaching — it was accompanied by a deep commitment to the value of dance for everybody and its necessity in the education of youth. Over the years, the Company has grown from its beginning as a local entity into an internationally renowned contemporary dance company, having performed in every state in the United States, as well as throughout Europe, South Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the British Isles.
Joan and Shirley were active in the earliest programs in dance created by the National Endowment for the Arts. In that fertile atmosphere, the Company grew in stature and recognition. Company Alumna Emmy Thomson further advanced the vision as associate artistic director from 1999-2001. Cutting-edge choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen joined the company in 2002, imparting unique artistry and solid technical facility. The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance partnered with the Company in 2003 to present works of Alwin Nikolais, touring worldwide for 12 years.
Located in downtown Salt Lake City, the Company performs four different shows annually in the Capitol Theatre and Jeanné Wagner Center for the Performing Arts. Along with Alberto del Saz from the Nikolais/Louis Foundation, the Company is now committed to keeping alive and performing the Nikolais legacy in conjunction to our commitment to expanding our contemporary repertory.
In 1972, the Company was selected as one of only 20 dance companies to participate in two prestigious national initiatives: the Dance Touring Program and the Artists in the Schools Program. This opportunity led to the creation of the Company’s education program, which became the national model for dance education in the schools—a model that still stands today.
50TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company now enters an exciting future. In June 2013, The Company welcomed Daniel Charon to succeed Charlotte as artistic director. Previously based in New York, Daniel brings a fresh perspective to dance in Salt Lake City. With the strength of its history, the vision of its founders, and the extraordinary ability of its management, staff, dancers, and boards Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company will continue to be a force for innovation in contemporary dance throughout the world. Today, Managing Director Jena Woodbury, Artistic Director Daniel Charon and Education Director Gigi Arrington are committed that the Company mission continues to make dance a viable part of everyone’s lives, whether it be as observers, critics, performers, or creators. Ririe-Woodbury’s performances and educational undertakings are both a reflection of the Company’s philosophy that “Dance is for Everybody”
I had the opportunity to talk with Daniel Charon, artistic director of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, and he was gracious enough to give me all of the preceding information and to answer a few questions:
Q: What gives Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company inspiration?
A: The community is a really strong inspiration for Ririe-Woodbury. Our mission includes presenting thought-provoking and accessible dance to further the understanding of our own existence in this world. The art-form offers a unique perspective into issues and topics that are difficult to make sense of through words. The ability to bring this type of art to the community enriches compassion and understanding and hopeful makes for a better society. We are also inspired by the multitudes of youth that we touch through all of our educational outreach. It really keeps us going to be able to further the understanding of dance and open up new possibilities to all of these young people. It’s amazing to see children who have difficulty communicating through words, communicate through movement. That is very rewarding!
Q: With Ririe-Woodbury strongly committed to education, how do you choose the works you will perform based on wanting to further the audiences education?
A: The works that I choose to make up the repertory are picked because there are great artists who have things to say. I want to represent important choreographers that make up the dancing landscape in the world today. I think it is important to bring these voices to Salt Lake City and to the audiences we engage while on tour. Educating the audience has to do with presenting this work in a professional manner, producing really great dances that are succinct and have a clear vision, and to open the door to conversation around these pieces. As far as educational outreach for young people, from these works we extract excerpts that help clarify points we are trying to make. For instance, if a particular piece has a lot to do with shape, we excerpt that work to discuss shape.
For more information about this company and the coming shows, please visit www.artsfortheschools.org.
We are fortunate to have this type of high-class performance art in our local area. Please come out to support the arts. You won’t want to miss this fantastic opportunity to watch and be inspired by beautiful dance.
“It’s amazing to see children who have difficulty communicating through words, communicate through movement. That is very rewarding.”
Artistic Director, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company