Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company performs at Weis Center

Sarah Haber, Contributing Writer

The University hosted the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts on March 23. The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is an internationally renowned contemporary company based out of Salt Lake City. Along with performing pieces created by their artistic director, Daniel Charon, the group is known for commissioning works by both rising and established choreographers.


At the Weis Center, the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company performed four pieces with distinctly different choreographic styles, demonstrating the wide range of dance styles that the company employs. The works that the company performed were “Suite du Danse” by Murray Louis, “The Opposite of Killing” by Tzveta Kassabova, “Strict Love” by Doug Varone, and “Storm” by Charon.


The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company was founded by Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury, who were both dance professors at the University of Utah. The two women started the dance company as a way to promote creativity and dance as a valuable art form. Now, the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the British Isles.


“The Opposite of Killing” incorporates highly energized movements to express emotions ranging from confusion to anger to sorrow. The work involves six dancers dressed in monochromatic attire. The dancers interact with one another to create complex relationships and movements within the dance as well as to display the intimacy of the performance. Kassabova, the choreographer, worked alongside the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in 2010 to transform “The Opposite of Killing” into the intricate ensemble piece that it is today. Since 2010, the details within the choreography have changed several times, but the piece has preserved its depth of emotion.


“I was surprised at how athletic the dances were, especially ‘The Opposite of Killing.’ I thought that the dances were executed extremely well and were able to really capture the emotion of the piece,” Rachel Milio ’22 said.


“Strict Love,” choreographed by Varone, utilizes both robotic and emotional movements, making it a completely different stylistic piece from “The Opposite of Killing.” The dancers moved almost entirely in unison to a 1970s pop-medley soundtrack featuring songs such as The Jackson 5’s “ABC.” As a whole, the piece is meant to have a nostalgic feel because the choreographer emphasized the timeless appeal of the music from the 1970s.


An important aspect of performance for the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is the use of lighting to help accentuate both the movement of the dancers and the music in the background.


“I thought that the lighting helped to complete the ensemble as a whole and really captivate the audience by drawing their attention to specific movements and dancers on stage. Also, the lighting and the music worked really well together and I like how they played off of each other,” Milio said.


The final dance performed by the company was “Storm.” This piece was choreographed by the dance company’s artistic director, Charon. “Storm” mixed classical and contemporary dance in a highly athletic performance. The use of lighting was particularly important during this performance because the piece started off with a dimly lit stage, but as the dance and music progressed in intensity, the lighting did as well. This piece was inspired by the energies present in each individual, that when put together make a group of people unique and powerful. Throughout the piece, the energy field is constantly shifting between different dancers and demonstrates the nature of relationships within a community.


Upcoming events at the Weis Center include the Aizuri Quartet: Intricate Machines on March 31, Anda Union on April 5, and Michael Mwenso & The Shakes on April 9.

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