World Premieres and Beloved Favorites Showcased at Spring Utah Ballet

January 31 2018

by Molly Powers

The School of Dance presents the Spring Utah Ballet, Feb. 8-10 on stage in the Hayes Christensen Theatre in the Marriott Center for Dance. Showcasing both classics and original works, Utah Ballet will offer the audience four unique approaches to the art of Ballet. The program will premiere a new work by guest artist Penny Saunders, a duet by prominent choreographer Val Caniparoli, an original faculty work, and an excerpt from the legendary “Swan Lake.” The program opens with original choreography from Jay Kim, School of Dance assistant professor, who brings to the stage a piece created for 29 dancers at Utah Ballet.

“’Sentience’ depicts how the mass of humanity can find freedom from suffering through the mindful realization that it possesses the power within to engineer consciousness,” said Kim.  

Kim’s career as a professional dancer includes 12 years dancing as a soloist with Universal Ballet Company of Seoul, Korea. Throughout his career he has performed a repertoire of more than 40 ballets and has staged more than 25 works of the classical and contemporary repertoire.

Visiting guest artist Penny Saunders will also premiere original choreography. Saunders, who was a recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship in 2016, is currently choreographer-in-residence at the Grand Rapids Ballet, and has collaborated with The Cincinnati Ballet, BalletX, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, SFDanceworks and Tulsa Ballet 2, among others. In “Bloom,” her piece for Utah Ballet, Saunders takes inspiration from the student dancers themselves.

“I knew that I wanted to make a piece about joy— something innocent and present minded,” said Saunders. “However, I was also extremely intrigued by that beautiful balance that they [the dancers] are experiencing at this moment in their careers between hope and fear. It has been wonderful to laugh and create with these blooming artists as they toe that line between giving up and leaning into an unknown outcome.” 

The program will also include well known piece, Val Caniparoli’s “She’s So Fine.” Maggie Wright Tesch, associate professor in the School of Dance, will bring the duet by the celebrated choreographer to life on the Marriott Center Stage. “She’s So Fine” was originally set on Tesch, who was a principal artist at Ballet West Academy, where Caniparoli served as resident choreographer from 1993-1997. The piece is from Caniparoli’s larger body of work named “Book of Alleged Dances,” which was inspired by the events and people of San Francisco.   

“I believe Val’s works are relevant to students today,” said Tesch. “They are currently being choreographed, staged and performed by companies all over the world. It is likely dancers will run across one during their careers. Doing current work is huge for college dancers. In other words, having the chance to learn and dissect a working choreographer’s piece, a choreographer who is making a living doing his craft internationally, is one hell of an opportunity.”

Finally, the program will conclude with Act II of the classic love story, “Swan Lake,” reimagined by Jan Fugit, adjunct professor in the School of Dance. Act II features the iconic flight of swans, their enchanting queen, a handsome prince and the evil sorcerer. Composed in 1875, “Swan Lake” remains a timeless favorite among ballet audiences across the world.

Join the School of Dance for an exciting evening of ballet, Feb. 8-10 at the Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah. Tickets are available online at Tickets.utah.edu, by phone at 801-581-7100 or at the door 30 minutes prior to curtain. For more information, please visit Dance.utah.edu