BWW Dance Reviews: THE START OF SOMETHING BIG at The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
The nostalgia ran very deep during the opening performance of Ririe-Woodbury's The Start of Something Big at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. This season marks Ririe-Woodbury's 50th anniversary and to mark the event, the company brought back 17 alumni company members to dance an opening improvisational number, which included many recent members and also some who have been retired for many years. To be able to witness this number was truly a treat, and all of the former dancers abilities were still clearly visible. This was a historical moment in history that was a privilege to witness.
In The Start of Something Big, Ririe-Woodbury takes the audience back through its history by choosing exceptional numbers from its 50 year run. Entertaining videos were shown in between numbers showcasing some zany sketches made by past company members. A highlight of one of these videos was shot at Rice Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah's football field in which the dancers all performed on crutches. This led to the live "Affectionate Infirmities," in which the current members of Ririe-Woodbury performed the entire number on crutches. "Affectionate Infirmities" was choreographed by Joan Woodbury in 1971 and was created as a homage to anyone who has suffered an injury. At one point, company member Tara Roseen McArthur performed a series of fouettes with crutches in hand. The athleticism and control involved in this dance was truly impressive to witness.
Another exceptional piece was "Clouds." Choreographed by Shirley Ririe in 1973 and performed with balloons, this number was created for Ririe-Woodbury's first children's show. The choreography and the use of balloons makes the entire number feel as though the dancers are floating on clouds. The simple white unitards and white balloons also help with this illusion.
Ririe-Woodbury also premiered a new work entitled "Everything That Changes." This number was choreographed by Daniel Charon, who is the current artistic director of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, in collaboration with the members of the company. This number reflects on the thought that life is always changing and continually moving, which is a reflection on the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company itself, in that it has changed and evolved over the last 50 years and is still enduring today.
The Start of Something Big is an exceptional dance experience and the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is one that we are lucky to have here in Utah. This show is a homage to the past and a nod to Ririe-Woodbury's future. The Start of Something Big runs until Saturday, September 28th.