Modern movement meets classical ballet

The University of Utah’s School of Dance proudly presents “Gala”—the annual concert where the ballet and modern programs to come together on stage at the Marriott Center for Dance. This year, the program features work from esteemed guest choreographer, Darrell Grand Moultrie, along with new works from faculty members Eric Handman and Christine McMillan and excerpts of “Don Quixote,” artfully staged by assistant professor Jay Kim.

Headlining the concert world-renowned choreographer Moultrie works with a cast crossing over from modern and ballet programs. Moultrie’s piece, entitled “Confidence of the Connected,” is an exploration of the bonds of young artists, celebrating “the bonds of young artists and what it takes to find your uniqueness within the artistic community.”

One of America’s most sought after choreographers, Moultrie was awarded the 2007 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award, and has created works for Ailey II, Juilliard Dance Ensemble, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Atlanta Ballet, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, BalletMet Columbus, BalletX, Cincinnati Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Nashville Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Richmond Ballet, Smuin Ballet and NBA Ballet in Japan.

“As a choreographer, it was exciting to explore athleticism and deep emotional content with a strong cast of amazing young women,” Moultrie said. “Finding your own voice within a collective is extremely important.”

Jagged, powerful and bracing “Grey Raven,” the new collaboration between Handman and dancers from the University of Utah Modern Dance Program, is a “short ride in a dark machine that hits like a foot on a rake.” Set to music by Olafur Arnalds and Nick Cave, the dance “claws through its own serrated, Gothic-plated exterior towards a strange kind of love.” The dance was built around a series of nine movements, creating choreography that “feels like a razor, but also grounded, complex, volatile and ambiguous.”

Working with a cast of nine dancers from both the modern and ballet programs, McMillan’s new piece “...or should I...” comes from the sense that everyone around you knows exactly what they are doing and is moving faster than you can keep up with. “It’s like a machine in motion and you have no choice but to go along even if you’re barely making it. At the same time, there can exist moments that feel like being stuck in place and being uncertain of where to go next,” McMillan says.  “As individuals, how do we find a way to anchor and chose a path that fosters a more balanced relationship with others and within ourselves? Sometimes it means taking a wide stance, pausing, and taking several deep breaths.”

Finally, the program includes an excerpt from the classical ballet, “Don Quixote,” choreographed by Marius Petipa with music by Ludwig Minkus. In this excerpt of “Don Quixote” staged Kim, “Scene 8: The Wedding,” the audience will see choreography by Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, who in 1900 reconstructed “Don Quixote” when he was working as both a premier danseur and régisseur. “Don Quixote” is based on the famous novel by Miguel Cervantes, and the complete production is full of humor, adventures and Spanish dancing.

“’Don Quixote’ reveals how ballet draws on dance styles from around the world to create its vocabulary,” explains assistant professor Kate Mattingly. “Petipa was inspired by his years in Spain, where he lived from 1843 to 1846, and performed as a premier danseur at the King’s Theatre in Madrid. He admired Spanish dances, like the Aragonese Jota and incorporated Spanish rhythms and stylizations into his choreography.”

The show runs March 5-21 at the Marriott Center for Dance. Click here for tickets and showtimes.