The Arts and U

AXIS Dance Company—coming to campus for workshops and a performance

By Sheri Jardine, communications manager, UtahPresents

AXIS Dance Company’s artistic director, Marc Brew, uses a wheelchair. He is also an acclaimed dancer and choreographer, with a vision for changing the way dance is perceived by both disabled and non-disabled audiences.

In a story in the Miami Herald, Marc describes his journey of continuing to dance after a life-changing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, finding ways to eliminate perceived restrictions and incorporate new movements to continue to create and share artistry through dance.

“People with disabilities are often shunted aside by the societies in which we live—ignored, discriminated against, or barely tolerated,” Brew writes in the story. “Today though many of us have forged new movements, new ways of living, finding in our commonalities and our differences a strength that begins to change the world. That has been my experience, and in my work as a dancer and a choreographer, I have tried to express the best of who I am, of who we are, and find the beauty in the challenges we face.”

Brew was named artistic director of AXIS Dance Company in 2017, bringing more than 20 years of experience to the nation’s most acclaimed ensemble of disabled and non-disabled performers. The company, founded in 1987, burst onto the dance scene with a commission by acclaimed choreographer Bill T. Jones. They have toured through the US, Europe, Israel and Russia. Through live performances through the US, Europe, Russia and Israel, in addition to multiple appearances on “So You Think You Can Dance,” AXIS has introduced integrated dance to millions of people worldwide.

As part of its mission to bring diverse artistic and cultural experiences to Salt Lake City and the U campus, UtahPresents, in partnership with the School of Dance and the Disability Studies Program, is bringing AXIS Dance Company to campus for a week of classes and workshops, culminating in a public performance on Friday, Nov. 8.

“The visit by the highly acclaimed AXIS Dance Company offers an amazing opportunity to experience the artistic and creative possibilities generated by diverse bodies in performance,” said Angela Smith, director of the Disability Studies Initiative. “AXIS’s dynamic performances transform the norms and boundaries of dance and movement, highlighting the creative and disruptive power of disability culture and art.”

During the company’s time on campus, Brew and the company’s dancers will conduct classes and workshops for students from a wide variety of disciplines, including dance, interdisciplinary teaching methods and special education, and will perform a matinee at Kingsbury Hall for over 1,700 fifth and 12th grade students from schools across the Wasatch Front. The company will also work with students and teachers at Jordan Valley School in Midvale, through support from the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program.  And, in conjunction with Jordan Valley School and Tanner Dance’s Disabilities Creative Dance Classes, AXIS dancers will teach three classes to dance students with disabilities ranging in age from 5 years old to adults.

“By bringing AXIS to Salt Lake, we are providing opportunities for people with and without disabilities to see disability represented in a new way through dance,” said Robin Wilks-Dunn, community engagement manager at UtahPresents. “Having the company on campus for a full week means we can impact and inspire over two thousand students and community members by seeing the beauty and creativity of differently abled performers.”

Tickets are still available for the public performance on Nov. 8 with discounts available for students, faculty and staff.


AXIS Dance Company at a glance

Date and time

Nov. 8 | 7:30 p.m.

Location

Kingsbury Hall
1395 E. Presidents Circle

Tickets

General: $20-$30
U faculty and staff: Save 10% with UCard
U students with UCard (Arts Pass): $5
All other students with valid student ID: $10

Click here for more information.

Watch the trailer below.

"The Odyssey" in the Babcock Theatre

By Josiane Dubois, marketing and communication specialist, Department of Theatre

The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre presents Homer’s classic tale, “The Odyssey,” adapted and originally directed by Mary Zimmerman from Robert Fitzgerald’s translation. Directed by Alexandra Harbold, the production runs Nov. 8-17, 2019, in the Babcock Theatre in the lower level of Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South and University Street.

This vivid adaptation of Homer's epic begins when a young woman opens a book, and a story of adventure, trials and adversity arises. With her trademark irreverent and witty twist on classic works, Zimmerman brings to life the story of Odysseus's 10-year journey, depicting his encounters with characters such as Circe, the Cyclops, Poseidon, Calypso, the Sirens and others. Zimmerman has received over 20 Joseph Jefferson Awards for her creative work, and won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Direction for her adaptation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.”

To bring this ancient adventure to life, director Harbold brought Daniel Charon, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company’s artistic director on board. Harbold says, “‘The Odyssey’ invites the audience to go on an epic journey, full of wonders, adventures and hardships. Having the opportunity to collaborate with Daniel Charon as our movement director has amplified the physicality of our storytelling and allowed us to meet the raw, kinetic magic of Mary Zimmerman's adaptation in our own way.”

Anchoring the title roles are Benjamin Young as Odysseus, Ireland Nichols as Athena and Brynn Duncan as Penelope. The large cast of 27 actors is assembled of students from the Actor Training and Musical Theatre programs including Amona Faatau as Telemachus, Grayson Kamel as Hermes, Bakir Mehinovic as Poseidon, Favour Bright-Agindotan as Denizen of Heaven and Danny Borba as Aeolus.

A post-performance discussion with Charon, Harbold, the cast and creative team will be held on Friday, Nov. 15, immediately following the evening 7:30 p.m. performance. Mark Fossen, adjunct assistant professor of theatre,  will be leading the discussion with production dramaturg, Nadia Sine where audiences are invited to engage in the conversation.


The Odyssey” at a glance

Dates and times

Nov. 8 | 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 9 | 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10 | 2 p.m.
Nov. 13 | 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 14 | 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 15 | 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 17 | 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Location

Babcock Theatre
300 South and University Street (1400 East)
In the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, lower level.

Free parking is available to the south of the theatre and at Rice Eccles Stadium.

Tickets

General: $18
U faculty and staff: $15
U students with UCard (Arts Pass): Free
All other students with valid student ID: $8.50

Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at tickets.utah.edu or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.

Content warning: Recommended for patrons ages 14 and up.