“One…” presented by the Ririe Woodbury Dance Company runs from April 25-27 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. This year the company’s season has acted as a countdown towards their 50th anniversary. It has also been the last season for Artistic Director Charlotte Boye-Christensen as well as veteran member Jo Blake. Included in the program were two pieces from 2005, Alicia Sanchez’s “If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought” as well as Boye-Christensen’s “Bridge”. Also included and premiered on Thursday evening was German native Johannes Wieland’s “one hundred thousand” which was created on the company last fall.
The show was a marathon for the dancers with the entire company utilized in each piece. Sanchez’s “If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought” demonstrated the company’s physicality in a way they have become known for. The piece was comprised of seemingly unrelated vignettes each ending unresolved and paving the way for a new story. The material was at once quite personal and then uncomfortably distant. As the relationships between the dancers were formed and destroyed, I had a difficult time understanding my own relationship to the dancers as an audience. Sanchez made occasional use of breaking the fourth wall, but this decision seemed to leave me less involved than expected. The work certainly had a story to tell; I just could not understand it given the language the dancers were speaking.
Following this was Boye-Christensen’s “Bridge” set to a fast past and engaging score by John Adams. To be quite frank, I have never been the biggest fan of Boye-Christensen’s style and normally find her material vague and tedious. “Bridge” however was anything but. It acted as less of a bridge into the future and more of a cannon ball. While it certainly had her signature, I found the piece to be thoroughly engaging and surprising. There were moments that were private and ones that were quite explosive. It was a seamless homage to the past with an urgency and expectancy of the future. I felt that this was a successful farewell from both Charlotte to us and the dancers to her.
Following intermission the dancers completed the daunting task of performing Wieland’s “one hundred thousand”. Though the format of the piece itself was not pleasing to me, I must commend the dancers on their accomplishment of such a production. This company has never been said to be lacking in guts and gusto, and this was more evident than ever in Wieland’s work. The piece itself utilized many theatrical elements that in my mind are becoming quite kitsch. This along with a confusing array of music left me feeling quite alienated as an audience though the work itself was compelling, making me want more. I felt no resolution, and perhaps not even a clear message from the work, but what was evident was that it was courageously inhabited by the dancers and ferociously honest. With little room for error, the movement was raw and one could sense a real camaraderie between the dancers.
The Ririe Woodbury Dance Company has launched itself headfirst into the next phase of its life. Presenting such an energetic and dynamic program leaves me wondering what the new face of the company will look like. There are two more chances to see “One…” at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center tonight and tomorrow both at 7:30.
Katherine Adler is an intern for loveDANCEmore. She will be graduating from the University of Utah with a BFA in Modern Dance.