Spring Dance brings big names and big ideas to the Marriott Center for Dance

February 10 2023

During the last few months, the School of Dance has been a bustling hub of creativity. Coming off a tremendous high after the wonderful run of Performing Dance Company’s greenland, our dancers are ready to take the stage once more. Spring Dance, happening February 23rd to the 25th, will showcase 4 world premieres that promise to engage, inspire, and entertain. The concert includes work by two of our own esteemed faculty members, Melissa Bobick and Molly Heller and two guest artists, Suzanne Haag, Eugene Ballet’s Resident Choreographer, and internationally renowned artist Rena Butler.   

From pure classical and neo-classical lines to broad and expansive physicality, Spring Dance will have a vast range of choreographic voices generating an eclectic display of virtuosity and energy beautifully showcased by our talented School of Dance students.

Rena Butler is a force of nature and one of the most sought-after creators of our time. In a relatively short time, she has danced, collaborated and choreographed with some of the most renowned companies around the world. When asked about her new choreography for the School she explains: “Off Shore is a collaborative exploration of symbiosis between the water in and out of us, reflective in a series of tumultuous emotions. Up to sixty percent of the human body is water, and seventy percent of the earth is covered in water. How can one move freely with the intersection of swells and various degrees of currents to find the shoreline again?”

Guest choreographer Suzanne Haag created an exquisite design of patterns and precise movement that shifts and shapes much like a kaleidoscope. In her own words: “Ornament is a non-narrative ballet, and though there is no storyline, Fanny Mendelssohn’s emotional sound evokes relationships between the artists on the stage.”

“The title, Ornament, is taken from a quote about the sibling composers Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, spoken by their father: “Music will perhaps become his [i.e. Felix's] profession, while for you [Fanny] it can and must be only an ornament." Despite these harsh words, Fanny Mendelssohn’s music, much of which had originally been credited to her brother Felix, has been rediscovered to be appreciated by today’s audiences.”

“My hope is that this piece presents something beautiful, something seemingly ornamental, but that ultimately it gives the audience a sense of connection as heard through the music and seen through the artists’ relationships on stage.”

Through her neoclassical and powerful movement, Assistant Professor Melissa Bobick is presenting Vox Feminae, created as an artistic collaboration with the dancers from her cast. “The work grew out of discussing the difficulty we often confront when trying to speak up and voice a personal opinion in a public forum. For us, as women who have trained in the historical framework of classical ballet, the challenge of finding our voice can be uniquely difficult. Within traditional ballet training, there are few opportunities for students to voice personal thoughts or opinions. Rather, they are instructed and encouraged to find comfort and routine in silently taking direction. I am hopeful, with a new generation of dancers, that this expectation is slowly changing.”  

“In this new work, I am looking for the dancers to embody a sense of urgency. This is a physical representation of the overwhelming emotion we often feel when, in real life, we seek within ourselves the confidence to speak up. This can be true in either the dance studio or the professional world. My hope for this new generation of female dancers is that they will, with the support of one another, see the value inherent in their own thoughts, opinions, and perspectives, and, with that value in hand, bravely and confidently share their valuable insights with the world.”

Assistant Professor Molly Heller brings to us a work that swirls with energy and dynamic movement. In her own words she says: “Robust and charged, my new work, Promise the Moon, creates ongoing cinematic states within an orchestral soundscape. Eight performers interweave between internal and collective drive, curiosity and fixation, and confrontation as it meets change. This work asks, how do we know, what we know? Promise the Moon blurs hope and realism and promises to be BIG.”

Spring Dance promises to be a memorable experience for anyone interested in dance performance and music interpretation through movement.
Come join us, you will not regret it! 


Feb 23 at 5:30 p.m. (in person or streamed online)
Feb 24 at 7:30 p.m. (in person or streamed online)
Feb 25 at 2:00pm and 7:30 p.m. (in person or streamed online)

Marriott Center for Dance - Hayes Christensen Theatre

In-person tickets can be purchased at tickets.utah.edu for all dates.
Free for University of Utah students with a valid UCard through the Arts Pass program.
Patrons can also stream all performances live for free.