I must say that the University of Utah's modern dance program is the shit. There is a reason they are ranked among the top in the country. The dancers/student/faculty are all AMAZINGLY talented, and I feel privileged everyday to have been a part of such an amazing program.
What has me on such a U of U pride kick? ...2 performances I've seen over the last week. First, the Spring Performing Dance Company (which I was lucky enough to be a part of for many years) and Juan and Molly's independent show The Grey Area. (Both of them are U of U alums, and both people I'm lucky enough to think of as friends.)
Performing dance company left me in awe. Dancers do things now that you wouldn't have thought possible years back. They have such control over their bodies. They move with such speed and accuracy that only a fellow dancer could truly appreciate the years of training and skill that goes into such a performance. Works were choreographed by U professors Donna White, Eric Handman, Juan Carlos Claudio, Movement Forum (a dance organization formed by U of U alums), and Steve Koester.
Donna's piece left the most lasting impression on me. Her piece explored the juxtaposition of modern day Italy next to its ancient ruins entitled "Dust and Ruins." This has been something I experienced. Italy is still on my places to visit, but I HAVE been to Greece twice. Part of the magic of Athens is that you can hop off the modern subway and on the walk to your typical delicious Greek restaurant in the Plaka you stroll by old grave sites, glance up at the Parthenon, and can eat lunch with a view of the Roman Agora. It was an experience that left an impression on me and I'm so glad a dance was made that so perfectly conveys my thoughts. Eric Handman's piece, "Organism," was another Eric Handman piece, and those that have seen works by Eric Handman know what I mean when I say this. His movement never fails to amaze me with its magical ease and precision. Juan Carlos Claudio created a work that revolved around a light hanging from the center of the stage called, "Night Moths in an Open Field." "The Surreal World" was a structured improvisation created by Movement Forum. It takes courage and determination to perform a piece on stage where you, the performer, doesn't know what will happen. Stephen Koester's piece, "Storm Passing" was awesome as always.
What I've loved most was a work choreographed by Molly Beardmore-Heller and Juan Adalpe set on U of U faculty member Stephen Koester. It is a rare treat to see our professors perform; they are truly magical. The sound score for his performance was an interview conducted by Molly where she asked Steve to fill in statements like..."I'm proud of..." "I've failed at..." "In my life I've had this many friends..." "In my life I've had this many enemies..." "I feel sexy when..." "Do you fear growing old?' etc. What I love most about the U professors is that they are magical when they move, but they are also incredibly insightful when they speak. What I love most about art is that it allows you to relate to people and have a certain amount of insight into who they are. Steve Koester is a man I greatly respect. He has been referred to as a "genius" when he choreographs and I've always learned so much from his classes while being ridiculously challenged. In some ways he can be a little intimidating... in this piece it was easy to see him as just another person with fears and discomforts but also respect his amazing artistry. He feels sexier in the dark, uncomfortable in the public spotlight, and what he fears most about growing old isn't the growing old part as much as losing the promise of what comes with being young... I'm not sure if those were his exact words, but whatever the exact words were, they were eloquent. Congrats to Molly and Juan on an amazing piece and show... and to Steve for an awesome, revealing, and courageous performance... I love dance.
One of the things I love about no longer being in the dance program is no longer being required to see shows and write reviews on them... Now that I'm "free" I find myself going to shows and writing blogs on them... Oh man.